But at what cost?
“We have acquired David Wells to make our team better,” said Grady Fuson, the Padres vice-president of scouting and player development. “As of right now it is for a player to be named later. We can’t really comment on who the player is until other details of the trade have been finalized.”
Most media outlets have reported that the player to be named later is catcher George Kottaras, 23, who was the #4 ranked prospect by Madfriars.com for 2006. Kottaras, who was rumored to have been shopped during the July 31 trade deadline in an attempt to acquire a third baseman, would have been one of the top Padres’ prospects going into 2007.
The critical rule that prevents the Padres from naming Kottaras is that all players on the 40-man roster must pass through waivers, even if that player (Kottaras) is in the minor leagues.
The rules of the player to be named later state that the deal must close within six months and the player must change leagues.
The play of catchers Mike Piazza and Josh Bard on the big club and of Nick Hundley at Lake Elsinore decreased Kottaras’ value to the club, despite a solid performance with the Mobile BayBears in the Southern League this year. Sources from within the organization have never questioned Kottaras’ potential to hit on a major league level, but many had doubts if he would ever evolve into a top flight defensive catcher.
Wells, 43, won 15 games for the Red Sox in 2005 but was never comfortable under the intense media glare of Boston and the distance from his family in San Diego. It was thought that the Padres would be able to swing a deal for Wells before the beginning of the season with the Red Sox, but Boston’s reluctance to take back pitchers Woody Williams or Chan Ho Park nixed the potential trade.
He only recently became healthy after struggling with a multitude of injuries this year and has pitched effectively in his last five starts in August with a 2.65 ERA.
The Padres beat out the Dodgers for Wells' services with an eye on the last month of the season -- and beyond. Wells has a 10-4 record in postseason play with a 3.15 ERA. He has two World Series rings.
"I think we got one of the biggest big-game pitchers in the game," said Padres general manager Kevin Towers, who developed a solid friendship with Wells during the negotiations before the 2004 season. "And we're getting him when he's
hot. He's been exceptional of late. I'm hoping he's going to be a difference-maker."
Wells has frequently said that this will be his last year, but Fuson also stated that because he will be pitching at home, and not three thousand miles away, there is a possibility that Wells could be enticed to pitch another year, which played a part in the Padres’ decision to re-acquire him.
“It certainly is part of it,” added Fuson. “We’re looking to win now, but we always have an eye to the future.”