Angels Finally Get Rid of Vernon Wells
By Chris Hannum
Yes, of course, this is a Tigers site. Not a general baseball site or a Yankees site. We spend most of our time delving into minutiae like whether or not Kyle Lobstein has a shot at a bullpen spot, whether or not the Tigers will be able to swing a deal to hold onto Kyle Lobstein if he doesn’t and what Brayan Pena‘s pitch-framing abilities might mean for Doug Fister. But… the Tigers are a team with serious playoff aspirations and a weak division. We’re generally dismissive (until forced to do otherwise) about the threats posed by teams like Cleveland. Our competition is comprised of teams also likely to make the playoffs.
Mar 15, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels left fielderVernon Wells
(10) laughs as fans chant his name during a pitching change in the sixth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
And… it appears that two of those likely playoff teams are in the process of swinging a significant deal. The Yankees are going to be, apparently, acquiring Vernon Wells from the Los Angeles Angels at any moment. No details are available as to who the Angels might be getting in return, but if we just call it as “no one of any significance” I think we can be pretty confident in our accuracy. This wouldn’t be a personnel for personnel trade, this would be a salary dump. The Angels – apparently – would be eating about $29 million of the $42 million owed to Wells over the next 2 years while the Yankees would be on the hook for $13 million. THAT is the only significant part.
There is a chance that this could actually benefit both teams significantly. The “bad” move was when the Angels got Wells to begin with… he was already clearly overpaid and they gave up real players (Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera) to get him. Prior to that trade, Wells had a career .804 OPS and some 25 career WAR despite mixing really good and really bad years. In the two years he has spent in LA Wells has a .667 OPS with bad, “old-man” defense. Playing him had hurt the Angels for two years, they probably would have felt obliged to keep putting him out there if he was still on the team just because of the money that they had sunk into him. He was, not just probably but definitely, no better than the 5th best outfielder on the Angels roster. They will be a better team for not having him – and saving ANY money is far better than just cutting him or using him as an occasional pinch hitter.
The Yankees are taking a little bit of a gamble here, but they are for once in a position where that makes a little bit of sense. The Yankees are – at least in the short run – in desperate need of outfielders, even mediocre ones. They’re also known for getting the most out of old guys in part time roles. There is every likelihood that Wells can be a slightly above replacement level full-time player for a while – and that is actually something that the Yankees can use while seemingly everyone is nursing injuries. There is a chance that he has a decent season left in him too. The Yankees will only be happy with this deal 4 months from now if that turns out to be the case. If he doesn’t, they’ll basically be paying $6.5 million a year for two years just to get Raul Ibanez back. It isn’t all that UNlikely that Wells will do something productive either – over the last two years his BABIPs have been .214 and .226 compared to a career average of .280. His HR/FB stayed pretty good and with the number of flies he hits, his power numbers could get the same inflation from Yankee stadium that Granderson’s have.