There won’t be any attempts at redemption, nor will there be any make-good deals in Vernon Wells‘ future.
Instead, at the expiration of his contract after the 2014 season, the 34-year old outfielder plans on calling his career a day, presumably with the Los Angeles Angels (barring a surprising trade).
Given the current state of his career, even if the Angels were to win a World Series with Wells in the lineup before then, it’ll be difficult to say that the three-time All-Star will have gone out on top.
That, of course, is due to the massive back-loaded, $126 million contract extension that he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays before the 2007 season which will ultimately leave Wells with the dubious honor of having been one of the most notorious big-contract busts of all time.
Since the 2008 season that saw the deal kick in, Wells has been a 6.3 fWAR player over 631 games with the Blue Jays and Angels. In simpler terms, it’s to say that he has been worth a little more than the $21 million single-season salary he’ll make in 2013…over the last six years.
It’s not to blame him for signing the contract, though. That blame falls on former Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi, who did not exactly leave the most positive legacy in Toronto either.
The rapid decline of Wells’ skills at a relatively early age, on the other hand, is a disappointing end to a narrative for both the Blue Jays, who thought they had their franchise star locked up at 27, and for the Angels, who took a stab at Wells, and thought a change of scenery from Toronto would get him back to his All-Star form, and be the piece that puts the team over the top.
Sure, there are still two seasons for Wells to change the conclusion to this story; but, given that he’s been relegated to a bench role after posting a .222/.258/.409 triple-slash over the last two seasons, whether Wells can end his career as anything other than a role player is doubtful.
Role player or not, though, there is work to be done for Wells, whose Angels once again stocked up in the off-season to make a run for the World Series in 2013. If he can help get his teammates, perhaps Wells can make people forget the zeroes on his contract yet – even if it’s only for a fleeting moment.
It’s neither redemption nor going out on top, but after years of abject failure, it’ll at least be a positive note for the former star to go out on.