Vernon Wells Designated for Assignment By Yankees – What’s Next?
On Friday the New York Yankees designated outfielder Vernon Wells for assignment, furthering Wells’ slide from one of the league’s most feared offensive minded outfielders to a journeyman who can’t stay on a team for more than a year.
Wells, 35, appeared in 130 games for the Yankees in 2013 slashing .233/.282/.349 with 11 home runs spread across 458 plate appearances. In his first 40 games for New York, Wells hit 10 of his home runs and posted an impressive .895 OPS, but tumbled for the rest of the season (one homer and just a .494 OPS). He bid adieu to the franchise on Twitter:
— Vernon Wells (@VernonWells10) January 10, 2014
His largely disappointing season partially led to the Yankees cutting ties with Wells as did the team’s abundance of outfielders: Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki and newly-signed sluggers Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran.
2014 will also be the final year of the mammoth seven-year, $126 million deal Wells signed with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2008 (back when he was considered one of the league’s best outfielders). Remarkably, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will be paying Wells $18.6 million no matter where he ends up in 2014 as part of the financial obligation they absorbed after picking him up from Toronto in 2011. The Yankees also owe Wells $2.4 for the upcoming year themselves.
So what’s next for Wells? Surely he could catch on with a team desirous of a (presumably) low-cost outfielder that can still run into a fastball every now and then. On the other hand, Wells’ last consistently productive year was 2011 when he hit 31 homers and drove in 88 runs for Toronto while slashing .273/.331/.515. He’s also mentioned before that he plans to retire once the big contract runs out. 2014 could very well end up being his final year in the Majors; if he’s even able to catch on with another team.
If the Yankees can’t find a team interested in trading for Wells during the 10-day DFA window he could end up being released. Should that happen, Wells could wind up signing a low-cost, l0w-risk minor league deal with some team during spring training and trying to give it one last shot, assuming a market develops for his services.
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