Friday's Vernon Wells trade has made for a surprising blockbuster that no one saw coming. At first, it was reported that Mike Napoli was getting traded from the Angels to the Blue Jays. Next, it was reported that Wells was going the other way. Next, it was reported that Wells and cash would be exchanged for Napoli and Juan Rivera. And now, in perhaps the biggest stunner, Jon Morosi is reporting that there's not actually any cash involved at all.
The trade has been announced, and the trade is straight up. What that means is that the Angels will be absorbing the following contract - part of a long-term extension Wells signed with the Blue Jays in December 2006:
2011: $23 million
2012: $21 million
2013: $21 million
2014: $21 million
Napoli and Rivera will combine to earn about $11 million in 2011, offsetting part of the cost, and Napoli will probably be in line for a raise in 2012. But the Angels are nevertheless taking on an enormous financial commitment that really can't be justified.
Wells is already 32 years old. He isn't a standout offensive player. He isn't a standout defensive player. He's hit a great deal better at home than on the road over the course of his career. There's little doubt that he has the potential to be pretty good with the Angels for a year or three, but he's getting paid far too much, for far too long, and the Angels are likely going to regret this move that reeks of desperation.
In return for Wells, the Jays get two moderately useful power bats who should work their way into the regular lineup. Neither is a star, but the team will just be overjoyed to be rid of a problem contract.