It isn’t yet official – he still needs to pass a physical on Tuesday – but it appears that the Angels and Yankees have agreed to a trade that sends outfielder Vernon Wells to the Bronx. The Angles are likely to eat some of the $42 million owed Wells in 2013 and 2014. The Yankees are likely to send something back to Los Angeles in return, but that part of the deal has yet to be announced.
A source told ESPN that Wells would take over as the everyday left fielder until Curtis Granderson returns, likely sometime in mid-May.
Wells began his career in Toronto. Between 2002 and 2006, he was one of the best outfielders in baseball, making two all-star games and winning two gold gloves in that span.
In the first year of his megadeal, he also had a strong 2010 (.273-31-88). Wells was flipped to Anaheim in the offseason for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. Toronto then traded Napoli to Texas for Frank Francisco.
In Los Angeles, Wells has been a bust. Over the past two seasons, he’s played in 208 games, hitting .222 with 36 home runs. He’s been far from the $21-million-per-year man the Angels thought they were acquiring.
What does this mean for the Yankees?
In the short term, it gives them another option in the outfield. Brennan Boesch and Ben Francisco are the other candidates in left field at this point. Juan Rivera is probably the first baseman on most days until Mark Teixeira returns.
In the long term, the Wells trade makes less sense. When Granderson returns, that leaves the Yankees with five outfielders: Ichiro, Brett Gardner, Granderson, Wells and Boesch. With Derek Jeter likely to DH against most left-handed starters this season, Wells isn’t a fit at DH. Travis Hafner will probably DH most days against righties.
Even if the Yankees don’t have to pay much of Wells’ salary – it looks like they’ll pick up about $14 million of the $42 he’s owed – that’s still way too much for a fourth or fifth outfielder who isn’t producing much more than your average call-up from Triple-A or guy off the waiver wire. It’s a puzzling move for a team that claims to be in penny-pinching mode.