Wells to leave via free agency?

David Wells has stated that he wants to be back. He has commented on the emerging young talent on the squad. He even gave the San Diego Padres front office some pointers for the future. But could it all be for naught?

The Padres are concerned that the ALCS embarrassment suffered by the Yankees could lead New York to strengthen its interest in LHP David Wells. The Padres signed Wells away from the Yankees (who claimed they had reached an oral agreement with Wells on a minor league contract) to a one-year, incentive-laden contract late last December.

Wells, who will turn 42 next season, is again a free agent and wants at least $7 million for a one-year contract. That is an expensive option for a 42 year old pitcher. True, he did not break down much during the season but for those kinds of numbers, the Padres could also get someone a bit younger who is hitting his prime.

Wells, however, has a history of success. He has won the big game and can teach that to the younger Padres.

If anyone has the resources to lure Wells away from his hometown team, the Yankees do. They have a solid history of getting to the postseason and that in itself could be what puts Wells over the edge. The money will no doubt be there as well and it is conceivable that he would sign with the Evil Empire and actually honor his contract this time around.

That would leave the Padres with no lefty in the starting rotation. This proved to be a non-factor in the bullpen but will they be able to claim the same when it affects their starting rotation?

Odalis Perez and Eric Milton are the only other left-handed candidates who could be of interest. Perez will reportedly not be back with Los Angeles and the Chicago White Sox are reportedly interested in both left-handers.

Perez has a suspect makeup while Milton had an ERA that bordered 5.00 – in a league that did not have the benefit of a DH.

So the safe pick is to re-sign Wells. The cost of such a maneuver may have gone up when the Yankees did not advance to the World Series. The debris is reaching all the way to the Left Coast and won't be cleared until free agency is underway.

Wells is one of six Padres who become a free agent at the end of the World Series. The others are INFs Rich Aurilia, Dave Hansen and Robert Fick and RHPs Andy Ashby and Antonio Osuna. In addition to Wells, the Padres have expressed interest in re-signing Osuna and Ashby.

Petco Powwow:

  • The Padres say there will be no increase in season ticket prices for 2005. But there is likely to be an increase in single-game tickets, which go on sale in February.

  • Osuna, a free agent to be missed 92 games with elbow tendonitis and a strained left groin. But over the final 29 games, Osuna worked in 13 games and had an ERA of 0.53. In those 17 innings of work, he allowed nine hits and struck out 16.

    "Once he got his injury problems behind him, Antonio became a valuable member of our bullpen with Aki (Otsuka), Scott (Linebrink) and Hoffy (Trevor Hoffman). I'd be very interested in having him return to the Padres." -- Padres general manager Kevin Towers on his desire to keep RHP Antonio Osuna.

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