The New York Yankees decided to cut ties with outfielder Vernon Wells on Friday. The 35-year-old held promise when he entered the Bronx last season, but his subpar performance ultimately led to his exit as the team designated him for assignment in order to create roster space.
Wells, a three-time All-Star, began 2013 on fire batting .300 in the month of April while knocking in 13 RBIs and six home runs. His fire quickly extinguished and Wells finished the season with a .233 average and the worst OPS of his career at .631.
Now with Wells’ departure, the Yankees’ outfield depth includes Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki, ages 38 and 40 respectively, to go along with the free agent signings of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. Surprisingly, the Yankees released one of their younger outfielders in Wells, and he would have cost them next to nothing with the Los Angeles Angels paying $18.6 million of the $21 million he is owed in 2014.
Wells consistently hit 20 home runs and 90 RBIs while playing with the Toronto Blue Jays for 12 seasons, which earned him the huge payday at the end of the 2006 season that he is still benefiting from today. Once he headed west, his numbers declined drastically and the Angels paid for him to leave town. Wells landed in New York in 2013 hoping to rebound, but it never happened.
With everything in his favor, Wells simply played his way out of town. He was lined up to be a productive veteran guy who could have had the chance to earn a ring with a contender, but those dreams are no more.
Everyone in New York was fond of Wells and those feelings came out Friday on Twitter with everyone from Yankee teammates to the bleacher creatures wishing him the best of luck. Wells also released a gracious statement via Twitter about the Yankee organization.
The veteran outfielder will now join the list of unemployed sluggers that includes Kendrys Morales and Nelson Cruz. Many teams will probably take a chance on Wells as he is pretty low-risk due to the affordable price, but there are reports that he could call it a career as he has stated previously that his retirement would come at the end of his current contract.
It seems that Wells has definitively reached the role-player stage of his career and he will go down as another guy who faltered under the pressure of a big contract. On the plus side for the Yankees, the announcing of players Brian Roberts and Matt Thornton is now closer and the team has one less guy cluttering the outfield and DH spot.