Report That Vernon Wells May Soon Be Traded To The New York Yankees

I wonder how much mirror Vernon Wells is making. - Jamie Squire

Yahoo! Sport's MLB columnist Jeff Passan tweeted today that former Blue Jays outfielder and albatross Vernon Wells may soon be headed from the Los Angeles Angels to the New York Yankees, in a trade that would see the Angels sending Wells plus a significant amount of cash to New York. Passan further notes that Wells has a no-trade clause and he would have to sign off on any deal.

Minutes after Passan broke the news, the CBS' Jon Heyman, New York Post's Joel Sherman, and others confirmed the rumour. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal chimed in saying that the trade terms are not final and Wells has not been asked to waive his no-trade clause, but that the Yankees are "under [the] impression" that he would approve the trade.

Rumours that the Angels and the Yankees talked about Vernon Wells came out back in December, and flared up a little after Curtis Granderson was hurt by a J.A. Happ pitch, but Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin wrote that the trade "probably" won't happen. This move will give the Yankees some outfield help, and will clear the Angels' outfield situation, allowing Peter Bourjos to be the teams' everyday centre fielder.

The Blue Jays drafted the outfielder fifth overall in the 1997 amateur draft, and he played in Toronto from his 1999 debut through the 2010 season. Former Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi signed Wells to a seven-year, $126 million contract extension back in 2006. After disappointing seasons, Toronto, under the management of Alex Anthopoulos, traded him to the Angels in January 2011in exchange for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. That trade was considered to be one of the biggest coups of Anthopoulos' tenure as general manager, giving the Blue Jays the financial freedom to sign free agents and build up their farm system. Wells is owed $42 million total for the 2013 and 2014 seasons in his current contract. He had said that he will be retiring after the 2014 season.

He hit .230/.279/.403 with 11 homers and 29 RBI in limited playing time (262 PA) last season after hitting .218/.248/.412 the year before. In 41 plate appearances this spring, Wells is batting .361/.390/.722 with 4 homers and 11 RBI.

Lesson of the day: no contract is truly unmovable.

UPDATE 1:

Heyman tweets that Wells will waive his no-trade clause if the two clubs come to a deal.

UPDATE 2:

Los Angeles Times beat writer Mike DiGiovanna reports that Wells' stuff isbeing packed up by Angels clubhouse assistants, and he has already said his farewells, so it looks like the deal is happening.

While we wait for the official word, let's play a game. Wells has worn #10 for his entire career (save for 1999 when he briefly wore #3), but the Yankees have already retired #10 for Phil Rizzuto. What number do you think Wells will be issued as a Yankee? Submit your guesses in the comments! The first one to get it right gets a fabulous prize*!
*Prize is not fabulous.
*There is no prize.

UPDATE 3:

Ken Rosenthal reports that, while the deal is not complete, the Angels will pay at least $32 million of the $42 million owed to Wells in the next two seasons. When the Blue Jays traded Wells to the Angels, they paid $5 million of the ~$89 million owed. That means the Angels will pay $74 million for two seasons of Vernon Wells, or:

  • $93,552 per plate appearance,
  • $455,783 per hit,
  • $778,947 per run batted in,
  • $2,055,555 per home run, or
  • $67,272,727 per fWAR.

Right now, Wells is headed to the airport and is expected to fly to Tampa, spring home of the Yankees for a Monday physical.

We might laugh at the Yankees, but depending on who they send back to the Angels, this might not be that terrible of a deal. I don't think that $10 million over two seasons is that outrageous of a gamble on someone who is known to have had big up-and-down swings in his career. The Yankees have had success plucking old players off the scrapheap and turning them into serviceable members of the team. I think it is not likely that Wells can bounce back to his pre-extension numbers, but 2.0 fWAR in the next couple of season is not an impossibility if he stays healthy.

Plus, he's a good clubhouse and community guy, and that's worth something for the Evil Empire, right?

Update 4:

Rosenthal follows up and corrects his earlier report--the Yankees will be paying in the $13 million range, not $10 million. That $3 million extra is significant in evaluating this deal from the Yankees' perspective.

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