I was thinking about the contracts awarded to Carl Crawford and Jason Werth this morning, which apparently led me down the road to insanity, however Vernon Wells has an opt out option in his contract after 2011.
I know two years ago, this would have been a crazy idea (and it probably still is), but Wells had a pretty good year last year - what if he has another good/very good year this year (thinking minimum 5+ WAR). Say Vernon OPS's around .900 (which he hasn't done since 2006) what do you guys think the odds are that he opts out of the contract?
Crazy, right? Right...?
Wells, after 2011 will be turning 33 years old and will have 3 years left on his contract at about $62M (according to Cot's). That's fairly old to be looking at a new long term deal so I'm about 99% confident it won't happen, but think about the following.
Werth is 31 years old and just signed a 7 year, $126M deal that takes him through his age 38 season. He has put up about 5 WAR give or take the past 3 years (however, only had an OPS of greater than .900 this year). I think it's safe to say that Werth is more of an offensive force, but not quite as valuable defensively.
Crawford is generally in the 5 to 7 WAR range and is younger at only 29 years old, however he just signed a 7 year $142M deal, carrying him through his age 36 season. We all know that a significant portion of Crawfords value stems from his speed and defence, however, he has never had an OPS above .850, and his offensive value is actually somewhat consistent with that of Wells. Regardless, the Werth comparison is slightly better so I'll stick with that one.
If Wells puts up a 5 to 6 WAR season, with the increase based on steady defense and increased offensive numbers, do you think he and his agent will consider testing the waters next year? Werth is making $18M/year until he is 38. If Wells got the same $18M/yr until his age 38 season, that would pay him $90M over the length of a new contract which exceeds the $66 he has left. Maybe a team desperate for an outfielder pays him 6 years for $90M - less per year, but more over the length of the contract than what he is getting paid now.
Here's a quick look at some teams (very preliminary) 2012 outfields according to Cot's pages.
Boston: Carl Crawford ($20M), Jacoby Ellsbury (arb. 2)
You have to think that any of those teams (minus maybe the Dodgers and the Rangers) would be willing to take a serious look at Wells. It would be a risky signing, but for a team short on outfielders, needing a push over the top, it could be worth it. Obviously, Wells would have to put up a big or even monster season in 2011, and his agent would have to relatively sure that a team would be willing to bite before he opts out of the remainder of his contract, or that he could at least instigate a bidding war during free agency, but surely it COULD be possible, right?