The New York Yankees continue to be hammered by injuries. Derek Jeter will very likely start the season on the DL, the first time he won’t be the opening day shortstop since 2001, and Mark Texiera and Curtis Granderson will miss at least first month of the season. There has been speculation that the Yankees were going to make a note-worthy move. They already signed Ben Francisco and Brennan Beosch to compete for a spot in the outfield.
However, the Yankees decided to make a trade for the 34-year-old Vernon Wells who is owed $42 million over the next 2-seasons. As part of the deal, the Yankees will only have to pay Wells $13 million of it, $6.5 million in each of the next 2 seasons.
THIS MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE. For a team that was trying to save every dollar possible, giving a player who has the production Wells’ has had over the past two years $6.5 million per season is laughable. The Angels will owe Wells the remaining $29 million. He’s owed so much money as a result of his 7-year contract worth $126 million dollars he signed with Blue Jays following the 2006 season.
For the Yankees, the acquisition of Vernon Wells, especially with what they’re paying him doesn’t make much sense. Over the last 2 seasons, he’s hit for an abysmal .222 average with 18 home runs and 48 RBIs. He’s also missed 116 games over that span as a result of injuries that included a broken wrist, two hamstring strains, and surgery to his shoulder. He simply hasn’t been able to stay on the field, and when he’s played, hasn’t been very productive.
The Yankees could have gone in two completely different directions other than paying Vernon Wells $13 million over the next 2 years. They could have brought in Johnny Damon who was willing to play for the league minimum of $490,000 and leave once Granderson came back. In 64 games last year, Damon hit .222, the same as what Wells has done, and the fact the Yankees were willing to pay $12.5 million for a player with similar production is head scratching. Wells is 5-years younger, but his injury history should be more noteworthy.
The Yankees could have also brought in Bobby Abreu who has a career .396 On-Base percentage and who hit .242 last year, 20-points better than Wells. You know you are going to get a good at-bat with Abreu, and with him struggling to find work, the Yankees could have had him for the league minimum too. Abreu is familiar with New York and would have been a nice veteran presence in the locker room.
In Wells defense, he’s been pretty productive this spring. In 14 games played, Wells is hitting a very impressive .361, with 4 home runs and 11 RBIs. If he can carry what he’s been doing this spring into April, the Yankees will be very happy. If Wells can once again be remotely close to the player that averaged 25 Home runs, 87 RBIs, and a .280 batting average from 2003-2010, the Yankees could have potentially struck gold with this move. Asking Wells to do that is a pretty tall order though.
Opening day for the Yankees is only a week away, when they host the Red Sox on ESPN.