Vernon Wells will have negative trade value until his contract expires at the end of the 2014 season. Wells' deal is considered one of the worst in the game. After all, the three-time Gold Glover has $98.5MM coming his way even though his defense has deteriorated rapidly and he hasn't topped 20 homers in any season since 2006.
But Wells underwent successful wrist surgery last offseason, he's a year removed from the hamstring problems that sidelined him last spring and he has four home runs in his first six games. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports said this weekend that Wells would probably waive his no-trade clause. No team would take Wells on if it meant shouldering nearly $100MM, but GM Alex Anthopoulos could potentially find a team that would take on some of Wells' salary – it's a question of how much.
Last winter, the Cubs signed Marlon Byrd to a three-year $15MM deal after a career year in which he hit .283/.329/.479 with 20 homers. Byrd is 32, a year older than Wells, but there was still enough interest for him to sign a multi-year deal.
But this doesn't mean Wells could find a $15MM offer on the open market; in fact, it's hard to imagine any club offering more than a few million. Wells has just a .317 on base percentage since signing his long-term deal and his defense has cost the Blue Jays in recent years, according to UZR (Byrd's defense has been closer to average).
Toronto's supporters can still hope, though. If Wells hits well this year and has healthy enough legs underneath him to impress scouts and turn around his defensive numbers, teams may be willing to trade for Wells and pick up some of the money he's owed. Jerry Hairston Jr., Mark Kotsay and Rick Ankiel lead the next crop of free agent center fielders, so teams aren't about to find elite solutions on the open market. The Blue Jays will not be able to trade Wells without paying the vast majority of his contract, but they can dream about a deal that allows them to shed $10-20MM.