This isn’t exactly breaking news at this point, but it appears as though the Angels and Yankees are close to a deal that would send outfielder Vernon Wells and his corpulent contract north and east. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. Yes, Wells appears to be headed to the Yankees, but most of the corpulent contract that goes along with him will be staying in Anaheim as the Yankees will pick up close to $14-million of the $42-million owed to him over the next two years.
Wells has a no-trade clause but he has agreed to waive it according to Scott Miller of CBS Sports so it appears as though the Wells era is over in Anaheim—sort of. I mean, they will still be paying him roughly $28-million not to play for the Angels.
As someone who also follows the Blue Jays quite closely, the trade that brought Wells to the Angels was a huge shock—especially considering then-GM Tony Reagins and his brass agreed to pay $81-million of the $86-million still owed to him for the remaining four years on his deal. Now, Jerry DiPoto & Co will pay Wells $28-million to suit up for the Yankees. This essentially means that the Angels will end up paying the expensive outfielder $67-million for two years of barely above-replacement-level performance. Even a team with deep pockets has to view that as an unacceptable mistake.
But at least that mistake is now firmly in the rear-view mirror. Trading Wells allows Anaheim to save $14-million over the next two seasons and replace an aging replacement-level player with someone with a little more upside, such as Kole Calhoun. And that’s no small thing since that $14-million adds some flexibility for the Angels as they strive to stay under the luxury tax threshold.
The Yankees were clearly desperate for any sort of help considering the long list of walking wounded currently on their roster. With Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez all set to miss significant time and further questions around Derek Jeter’s ankle, New York just needed someone with a pulse to log at-bats.
Wells comes relatively cheap to them at only $14-million over two years, but considering some of the other options on the market this offseason, it still has to be viewed as an overpay even if he bounces back slightly in 2013. Many have pointed out that for similar payouts, the Yankees could have signed Jonny Gomes (two-years, $10-million), Melky Cabrera (two-years, $16-million), Ryan Ludwick (two-years, $15-million), or even Scott Hairston who signed for just $5-million over two years with the Cubs. In theory, that makes this deal a monumentally bad one for New York, but at the time those players were available, most of those injuries hadn’t happened. The Yankees are paying extra now because they don’t have much in the way of options.
Just a few days ago, I answered some questions for Greg Thurston of Climbing Tal’s Hill—FanSided’s terrific Astros’ site—and he asked me if there was any way the Angels would trade Wells. I responded by saying it would be difficult for them to unload that contract unless they agreed to pay almost all of it, but I was wrong. The Yankees desperation won out and DiPoto and Angels’ fans should be happy that they were able to get rid of Wells and save any money at all.
Wells has had to endure a lot of hate from fans of both the Blue Jays and the Angels, but it’s hard to fault him for accepting the seven-year, $126-million deal given to him by former Jays General Manager J.P. Riccardi. He’s always seemed like a good teammate and nice enough guy, but his contract will go down in infamy as one of the worst of all-time.
In terms of a return, I imagine the Yankees will be sending something back to Anaheim, but don’t expect much considering how much of Wells’ contract they’re picking up. Frankly, a new Gatorade cooler and a couple of those buckets of Double Bubble for the dugout would suffice.