Recent roster cuts could be fits for Yankees

Casper Wells, two teams ago. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

Casper Wells, two teams ago. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

The Yankees just rattled off four straight wins over the division rival Blue Jays and have now gone 14-5 since the ugly 1-4 start. The middle relief has settled down, the rotation overcame some early woes, and the lineup has really started to click even if they still stink against left-handers (71 wRC+). It took a few weeks (as usual), but things are starting to come together.

Of course, there is always room for improvement, especially for a team as injury-riddled as New York. They’ve already used the DL a league-leading nine times this season, and that could grow to ten depending on the results of today’s MRI on Kevin Youkilis‘ stiff back. Three players lost their jobs with other teams over the weekend, and all three could represent upgrades on the fringes of the Yankees’ roster.

Casper Wells
Wells, 28, was designated for assignment by the Athletics yesterday, the third time a team has cut ties with him in the last month. That’s a pretty good indication front offices don’t consider him to be as productive as WAR or other freely available metrics say. He was claimed off waivers and traded for $100k this month, so the price is obviously low.

The Yankees aren’t looking for an offensive savior, they just need to find a better right-handed platoon bat than Ben Francisco (-7 wRC+ overall and -16 wRC+ against lefties). Wells has decent numbers against southpaws during his career (129 wRC+), but 317 plate appearances spread across three years aren’t definitive proof of anything. The various defense stats say he’s serviceable at worst in all three spots. Francisco hasn’t just looked bad, he’s looked horrible without even a hint of snapping out of it. Wells is freely available and it would be tough for him to give the team less than what they’re currently getting from Francisco*.

* That said, Wells has had five plate appearances in the last month because he’s been in transactions limbo, so rust is a very real concern.

(Doug Pensinger/Getty)

(Doug Pensinger/Getty)

Chris Nelson
The Rockies called up top third base prospect Nolan Arenado this weekend, and the 27-year-old Nelson was the roster casualty. Colorado designated him for assignment and it’s very likely another team will pick him up despite his poor performance this month (51 wRC+) because he’s versatile, one year removed from a 105 wRC+, and not too far removed from being a top prospect.

I wrote about Nelson as a potential target last month, so I’ll just refer you back to that to keep things simple. Nelson can provide depth at the three non-first base infield positions, which is something pretty much every team needs. The Yankees will be without Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez until at least the All-Star break and there’s a chance Youkilis will wind up on the DL following today’s MRI, so adding an infielder seems rather prudent. Even if David Adams or Corban Joseph are the team’s preferred call-up options, there is still an opening to stash Nelson in Triple-A. That would require signing him to a minor league contract following his release, which seems unlikely. I’m guessing he doesn’t go through waivers unclaimed.

Humberto Quintero
Quintero, 33, was cut loose by the Phillies over the weekend when Carlos Ruiz was eligible to return following his 25-game amphetamine-related suspension. The veteran journeyman barely played with Philadelphia (21 plate appearances), but he’s managed over 1,300 plate appearances (55 wRC+) in parts of 11 big league seasons. He’s always had a strong throwing arm (83-for-257 career, 32.3% caught stealing rate) and the rest of his defensive game is well-regarded, but who really knows these days.

The Yankees will be without Frankie Cervelli for at least six weeks thanks to his broken hand, and it could be even longer considering how hand/wrist/finger injuries tend to linger. They’re unlikely to find anyone better than Chris Stewart and Austin Romine right now, but Quintero is someone they could stick in Triple-A for further catching depth. Remember, Romine has a series of back injuries in his recent past, so it wouldn’t take much for the team to have to dip into it’s backstop depth again in the coming weeks. Quintero is likely to clear waivers and take a minor league contract, which fits what the team needs at the moment.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. Jim Is Bored says:

    Dammit Cash, just sign Casper already. We’re tired of hearing Axisa talk about him.

  2. Eddard says:

    I said in the last thread that even at his advanced age Hideki could still hit better than Ben Francisco ever will. It doesn’t matter if he’s a 20 year old rookie or a 45 year old veteran, if he’s an active MLB player he’s an upgrade over Ben Francisco who contributes nothing to society.

  3. Teh Manny'z BanWagonz says:

    How can you say no to a player named Casper?

    • Eddard says:

      Right, even a ghost is better than Ben Francisco that’s how awful he is.

      • Mattinglyfan03 says:

        On the other hand, the name is perfect for the waivers limbo he’s been stuck in all year: just like a ghost, you constantly hear about him, everyone (who is high on sabermetrics which is a lot like being just plain high) talks about him but you never actually catch a glimpse of him.

    • MannyGeee says:

      Casper seems like the kind of name, er.. player, the Red Sox would sign. Its, I mean he’s, marketable.

  4. Kosmo says:

    yes on Chris Nelson. Nelson can play 2nd and 3rd and could probably fake SS. No telling on Youk´s health at the moment. Quintero stashed at AAA makes good sense. No on Wells.

  5. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Yes to….all three?

    • trr says:


      OK – yes to all 3! agree w/Kosmo, but think Caspar is an upgrade over Francisco (who isn’t?). I beieve the final solution to the RH power hitting OF / 1B will not appear on our roster until July

  6. mitch says:

    Francisco wRC+ vs. LHP since 2011: 69
    Matsui wRC+ vs. LHP since 2011: 109

    Schedule Matsui retirement day the game before the Francisco replacement arrives and let him DH. I’m sort of serious, but not really.

  7. Nick says:

    Im pretty sure i saw a thing where Quintero would accept the minor league assignment if he cleared waivers

  8. Jersey Joe says:

    Casper Wells is a good solution for what we have, but at this point I’m not sure if he is an effective lefty masher. Put a claim on him and see what happens, but if we haven’t been able to claim him yet, then I doubt the opportunity will arise at this point.

    Chris Nelson seems like a good idea, but there is no chance he gets all the way through waivers. In the event that he does get all the way through waivers, definitely claim him and have him on the roster ASAP. We never know with Youk and ARod.

    Quintero seems like a good idea, but he’s not the particular solution as we find Humberto Quintero all field/no hit catchers all over the place.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Quintero wouldn’t be a solution. He’d be additional depth in case of further injury.

      • Jersey Joe says:

        I meant as an MLB catcher for Cervelli. Just saw Romine’s stats this year; no wonder they want him called up ASAP.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          What other choice, other than Romine, would there be to call up? His AAA stats look good, but that’s not the sole reason he’s up here. He’s up here also because he’s the most able catcher in the entire season, and become the Yankees have wanted him to take this step for several seasons now.

          Quintero would be insurance in AAA, especially if Romine’s back begins to act up again. Is Gil still the AAA backup? Stewart/Gil (or whoever it is) at the MLB level may cause Mike to jump into traffic, and we don’t want that. Imagine how infrequently the site would update. Rushing Murphy would be the most desparate of desperation moves. Quintero definitely fits right now.

  9. Manny'z BanWagon'z says:

    No friggin way on Chris Nelson. He’s awful defensively at both 3B and 2B and away from coors field, he’s a career .279 wOBA and 72 wRC+.

    Bring up David Adams or CoJo over this guy.

    • Jersey Joe says:

      I forgot about the Coors aspect; surprised Mike didn’t bring that up in the article. I still think that our options right now, especially with Youk’s potential DL stay, it would make a lot of sense to take on the extra bat.

      • Manny'z BanWagon'z says:

        Look at his defensive metrics too. He’s like -13 and -21 UZR/150 at 3rd and -30 and -40 at 2B over the last 2 years.

        The Rox cut him for a good reason.

  10. Jersey Joe says:

    I laughed at Casper Wells’ face. Every one of y’all did, but no one’s brought it up yet in the comments.

  11. Mason Williams BAC says:

    There is literally NO good reason not to swing something for Casper Wells. This little dance has gone on long enough.

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