Vernon Wells is one of many disappointing big spend moves in Angels history. On this date in 2013, the Wells era came to an abrupt end when he was shipped to the New York Yankees.
From the moment the Angels originally acquired Vernon Wells, fans knew it wouldn’t end pretty, so perhaps, in a small way, the trade that sent him to the Yankees provided a parting gift.
The transaction formalized the concerns fans expressed in local bars and sports talk shows that Wells was overpaid, and despite an All-Star appearance in the season preceding his arrival to Anaheim, on the decline. The fact that general manager Jerry DiPoto was able to save nearly $14 million on the back-end of Wells’ contract in trading him to New York was a minor miracle.
Vernon Wells turned career averages of .280/.329/.475 into abysmal .222/.258/.409 totals in Anaheim. Arte Moreno, who was quoted after the trade by the LA Times telling fans, “It’s our money,” paid Wells around $56 million to hit for the 10th lowest average among 222 Major Leaguers who stepped to the plate as often as he did between 2011-2012.
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The Angels were finally motivated to make the move in order to create breathing room under the luxury tax threshold. They had closed the previous season just a few million shy of the tax line, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts.
Wells was originally acquired in a deal that sent the popular catcher Mike Napoli to Texas, along with outfielder Juan Rivera. Neither player figured into the long-term plans of Angels management. Although, Napoli quickly reminded his former team that he still had plenty to offer by having his best season in the Majors the following year in Texas.
After missing on free agents Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre in the offseason, the Angels felt like they needed to make a splash by acquiring the veteran Wells. He was set to move to left field to join an outfield that included Peter Bourjos and Torii Hunter.
Luckily, for Angels fans, a year after acquiring Wells, another outfielder emerged into a superstar from their system, by the name of Mike Trout.