Uncertain of the status of outfielders Marcell Ozuna after an injury and Jake Marisnick after a slow Major League start offensively, the Miami Marlins have reportedly expressed interest in free agent outfielder Vernon Wells in recent days.
Joe Frisaro of MLB.com and Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish were among those who noted the potential interest. The Philadelphia Phillies are also thought to be in the mix for the 35 year-old outfielder.
Wells was released by the New York Yankees after batting .233 with 11 homers in 130 games last season. The former Blue Jay was effective to begin the season but ended the year with a WAR below zero (at -0.2). He is a career .270 hitter who can boast 270 home runs and 978 RBIs.
Wells' best offensive season came in 2003 with the Blue Jays, during which he batted .317 and hit 33 home runs to complement 117 RBIs. He hasn't had an above average WAR since 2012 in Toronto (4.2).
Frisaro noted in his report that Wells isn't the only option Miami is looking at. The Marlins are interested in adding a right-handed outfielder before the start of Spring Training. Justin Ruggiano was traded to Chicago for the left-handed hitting Brian Bogusevic in December, and the club is looking for an additional bench option.
Signing Wells wouldn't be expensive for the Marlins, according to MLB.com, because the Yankees and Angels are still paying the rest of his contract that he signed with the Blue Jays.
Wells, 35, was released by the Yankees earlier this month, and he has become a tempting free agent for Miami. If the Marlins sign Wells, his role would be a backup in the outfield who can make spot starts and pinch-hit.
Wells would be a cost-effective choice for Miami, because the Yanks and Angels are on the hook for the remaining $21 million on the seven-year, $126 million contract he initially signed while with the Blue Jays.
With Giancarlo Stanton hoping to have a consistent and effective year, the Marlins are confident in their outfield. Christian Yelich is expected to break camp as the starting left fielder, though center field is an area of concern with the inconsistencies with both Marisnick and Ozuna.
Bogusevic will have the opportunity to make the team, however should Wells be signed, the Marlins will have center field depth before knowing the statuses of Ozuna and Marisnick.
A veteran like Wells would provide insurance in center field. Bogusevic, expected to make the club, is considered more of a defensive candidate who can play all three spots.
The search continues for a right-handed-hitting outfielder with power. Ruggiano held that role last year, and he was second on the club in home runs (18) and RBIs (50).