Today In Blue Jay History: Vernon Wells Traded

Vernon - Abelimages

Three years ago today, Alex Anthopoulos did the impossible (well I guess not the impossible, but surely the improbable) by trading Vernon Wells (and $5 million) to the Angels for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera.

Our reaction to the trade? Well:

Disbelief. And then, well, joy. Reaction from the rest of the Jays blog roll and the rest of the media was much the same.

The timing of the trade was beautiful. In 2010 Vernon earned $15,687,500, he had a really good season and was well worth the money. In 2011 he made $26,187,500 (who was the one that decided on such strange numbers?). We paid $5 million of that, and he was terrible. Last year he made $21 million and next year he gets the same to not play baseball for the Yankees. The Angels are playing $18.6 million of that $21.

Vernon's numbers since:

Year Age Tm G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2011 32 LAA 131 505 60 110 15 4 25 66 9 4 20 86 .218 .248 .412 .660
2012 33 LAA 77 243 36 56 9 0 11 29 3 1 16 35 .230 .279 .403 .682
2013 34 NYY 130 424 45 99 16 0 11 50 7 3 30 73 .233 .282 .349 .631
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/21/2014.

Yeah, the trade couldn't have come at a better time. I still can't believe the Angels made that deal, but I am thankful to them. Even as a utility infielder, those numbers aren't good.

What we got back? It really didn't matter, just getting rid of that contract made it one of the best trades ever for the Jays, but let's look anyway.

Juan Rivera, who I called a Garden Gnome for his lack of range in the outfield, and it stuck, sorry Juan, wasn't wonderful for us. He hit .243/.305/.360 with 6 home runs and 28 RBI. He had a short stint as our first baseman, filling in for Adam Lind, went he went out with an injury, he was pretty good at first base. Lind was having a great season, to that point, hitting .313/.343.516, then he had an awful 2nd half of he season, hitting just .197, but I digress. Juan was given to the Dodgers on July 12th.

Mike Napoli was flipped to the Rangers 4 days later, for Frank Francisco, not one of Alex's better trades. Napoli would go on to hit .320/.414/.631 in 2011, that would have been nice to have on our team.  But then, if we had Napoli, we likely would have let Edwin Encarnacion leave, and that, knowing what we know now, would have been a mistake. It would have been nice to have been able to keep Napoli away from the Red Sox.

FrankieMcFrankFrank wasn't loved by fans. He had a rough start to the season, by the end of May he had 3 blown saves, 2 loses and an ERA of 6.14 (there was some saves in there too) . Bad first impressions are hard to overcome. He did pitch better the rest of the way, but, for a bit there, Jon Rauch took the closer job back. That really didn't go well. Frank finished the season with 21 saves and a 3.73 ERA. After the season he signed with the Mets as a free agent. Since Frankie was a 'Type B' free agent, we got the 50th pick in the 2012 draft for his signing and picked 6'8", left-handed pitcher Matt Smoral. That looks like a great trade to me.

All that really mattered about the trade, was the saving the money. I doubt last year's trade with the Marlins would have happened if we still had to pay Vernon $21 million this year.

Vernon Wells will always be one of my favorite players, the man hustled, he went hard down the line on every ground ball, he always worked hard, he gives to charity. The contract is awful, but I can separate the player an the contract. But I'm glad AA found a way to get rid of that contract at just the right time.

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