It's been a little over three months since Toronto Blue Jays GM, Alex Anthopoulos, dealt Vernon Wells and the remainder of his ridiculous $126 million contract to the Anaheim Angels. The move that shook up Toronto's baseball landscape is making the young Blue Jays GM look better by the day.
His Anaheim counterpart, Angels' GM Tony Reagins...not so much.
Heading into the weekend, it's safe to say that Wells (1 HR, 5 RBI, .178 AVG) isn't having the kind of start to the season that Reagins was hoping for when he traded for the former Jays' All-Star. Even after only 25 games, looking at those numbers, the Angels' GM has to be sweating a little bit.
The deal was made at the end of January and sent Wells and $5 million in cash to Anaheim in exchange for OF Juan Rivera and C/1B Mike Napoli. Napoli was then flipped to the Texas Rangers in exchange for closer Frank Francisco.
Thus far this season Rivera (2 HR, 6 RBI, .215 AVG) has played in 19 games for the Bluebirds, and Francisco, who started the season on the DL with an injured pectoral muscle, has appeared in four games for the Jays, earning one win in relief and sporting an ERA of 2.09.
The Jays might not have gotten any game changers in return for Wells, but at this point, the fact that they got anything in return for the struggling outfielder, without having to pay virtually any of the remaining $80 million on his contract, is already making Anthopoulos look like he outright swindled the Angels.
After the trade, the young GM made his motivation for moving Wells' clear.
"The financial implications were certainly a large component,” Anthopoulos said. “There’s no question going forward this will give us flexibility."
In this case, "flexibility" is a gross understatement. Wells' contract is still considered by many to be one of the worst contracts in baseball history. The inflexibility that comes with it is now Tony Reagins' problem.
To be fair to Reagins, Vernon did have a good season last year, hitting .278, with 31 homers and 88 RBI's in 157 games. However, as Jays fans know all too well, those numbers have become the exception rather than the rule when it comes to Wells. Over the previous three seasons, between 2007 and 2009, he averaged only 17 homers and 75 RBI, while playing in an average of 138 games for the Jays.
Those numbers certainly do not reflect a $126 million player. So what was Tony Reagins thinking when he traded for the grossly overpaid 32-year-old?
At the time of the trade, he had this to say:
“Vernon is a player we have admired for some time,” Reagins said in an earlier statement. “He is a tremendous person and the type of player that will impact our club immediately, both on offense and defense.”
Wells' "impact" on offense and defense is already being felt in Anaheim, and if Reagins' admiration hasn't turned into outright concern just yet, the continuing criticism of both Wells' play, and the trade itself, has to be weighing on his mind.
His Blue Jays counterpart on the other hand, Mr. Anthopoulos, is sitting pretty. With each passing game, Vernon Wells seems to be doing his best to make that deal look like one of the greatest trades in Toronto Blue Jays history.