Angels Acquire Vernon Wells From Toronto for Mike Napoli, Juan Rivera
Toronto traded Wells to the Angels Friday night for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera in a deal that saw both teams rid themselves of unwanted contracts. But there was no question who got more relief.
Wells is set to make $86 million over the next four years, including $23 million in 2011, under the terms of the seven-year extension he signed following the 2006 season. That deal also gives him a full no-trade clause, but he agreed to waive it for this change in scenery.
"Vernon is a player we have admired for some time," Angels general manager Tony Reagins said in a statement. "He is a tremendous person and the type of player that will impact our club immediately both on offense and defense."
It's easy to see why the Angels would want to move Napoli. They have plenty of catchers on hand (Jeff Mathis, Bobby Wilson, Hank Conger) and presumably won't have a need at first base in 2011 with Kendry Morales returning. While Napoli was due to make at least $5.3 million in 2011, depending on how his arbitration case plays out, Rivera will be paid $5.25 million this year. But those are just one-year commitments; quite a contrast from the albatross that is Wells' deal.
Getting Wells in return would help provide an answer to one of the biggest questions of the offseason -- what, if anything, would the Angels do in an attempt to keep pace with the Rangers and A's in the AL West? Wells isn't held in quite the same regard he was back when he signed that mega-deal, but he did collect 44 doubles and 31 homers last season while posting a .515 slugging percentage, his highest since 2006.
Despite those impressive numbers, the Blue Jays likely would have taken a fresh bag of baseballs in return just to get out from under the remainder of Wells' contract. Now, in addition to that, they'll get a guy who can play catcher, first base or DH and is coming off three consecutive 20-homer seasons and a more than serviceable outfielder in Rivera.
The Jays already have veteran Jose Molina and up-and-comer J.P. Arencibia behind the plate, but they have lost John Buck and Miguel Olivo this offseason. They also have seen Lyle Overbay depart, and considering all the time Napoli spent at first base last season, he could find time there along with Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion.
A Sporting News report earlier Friday had the Angels in talks to send Napoli to the Rays, but all parties involved ended up with much bigger deals by the end of the evening.