Vernon Wells’ Free Agent Value

In my Angels offseason in review article, I suggested that Vernon Wells might have gotten four years and $52MM at best if he had been a free agent this offseason.  Since the Angels essentially took on a four-year, $75.75MM commitment to Wells in the trade with the Blue Jays, they overpaid by at least $20MM – even if we leave Mike Napoli's positive trade value out of the equation.

I decided to conduct an informal poll on this topic.  I asked an assortment of team executives and agents what Wells would have gotten as a free agent this winter.  Three executives and three agents responded.  Here's what they said:

  • "At age 32 coming off a big year — but also realizing his previous three years were littered with injuries and inconsistency — I would think Wells would be in line for three-year, $36 million type deal.  He isn't as hot a name as Jayson Werth or even Jason Bay the year before but he still had a good year and has a performance history."
  • "Wells had a strong bounceback year last year and the market was WEAK for guys who can play center field…Wells would have commanded six years at $15-17MM a year for a contract anywhere from $90-102MM over the life of the contract."
  • "$50MM over four years from the Angels.  He had a nice year last year, plus I think the Angels got pretty desperate when everybody said no to them."
  • "I'd say Wells would have gotten a deal short of what Jason Bay received last year [four years, $66MM]. He’s still a decent enough player — but I can't see him doing any better than about one-half of the total package of what Werth received."
  • "I could see him being a $10-12 mil guy for maybe four years.  If you put on blinders to the contract, he is a 25 home run guy…inconsistent for sure, but still above average production."
  • "In the ballpark of three years, $40-45MM or four years, $50-55MM.  I assume Wells would probably have signed after Werth and Crawford.  Obviously same market as Beltre, but not sure the value is the same there."

I hadn't expected a consensus, but four years and $52MM does seem to be a fair estimate.  The Angels overpaid by about $24MM to get Wells, plus whatever trade value Napoli had.

49 Responses to Vernon Wells’ Free Agent Value Leave a Reply

  1. renegadeisback 4 years ago

    “six years at $15-17MM a year”


  2. ryankrol 4 years ago

    And how many players have the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, and Cubs overpaid for? This is what happens when a team has a $130 million dollar payroll, and is willing to spend more.

    • Ben_Cherington 4 years ago

      Throwing other teams under the bus doesnt make this better! The deal is still terrible!

      “This is what happens when a team has a $130 million dollar payroll, and is willing to spend more”

      So because you have a 130 Million dollar payroll, you have to make stupid trades??

      Payroll wasnt the issue, you have to remember they were trying to sign Crawford and or Beltre as well!

      This is just a bad trade, go Blue Jays!

    • InLeylandWeTrust 4 years ago

      What makes this so bad was that they traded for Wells after he had already signed the contract, and they should have known by now how bad of a deal it was. It’s worse that they traded for and took on the contract with little relief, than being the one’s to sign him for that deal.

      • woadude 4 years ago

        Very well said. On top of that Napoli then ended up going to their rival Texas Rangers, essentially making them better.

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      Overspending in free agency is different then taking on a bad contract..

      In free agency you have to bid against other teams, which drives up the price..

      VW essentially provided 2 teams to be traded to, TEX and LAA..

      So essentially, not only could they have asked for more money back, they could have also not sent Mike Napoli. They had all the leverage in the deal and still came out on the losing end of it

  3. ogueira 4 years ago

    Haven’t we Angels fans suffered enough?!? Why must you continue to pour salt on our wounds?!?

    With that said, the second executive must be someone out of the Angels front office.

    • That is definitely not my goal! I just wanted to pin down how bad this deal was…in a way, overpaying by $20-25 mil is not the worst thing ever. It’s easy to look at the total money owed to Wells and feel like the Angels just signed the Barry Zito contract or something.

      • ogueira 4 years ago

        No problem, Tim, just giving you a hard time.

      • VegasANGELSFan 4 years ago

        LOL. It’s ok Tim. It’s slow on the trade front right now, so might as well look back on one of the objectively worst trades (at the time it was made) that we have seen for some time and get the opinions of other baseball people on how stupid of a trade it actually was. This gives some monetary value to Reagins’ stupidity, as opposed to simply a range of “pretty stupid” to “incredibly stupid” (with my vote going to “incredibly stupid”).

        • No way this is as bad as Casey Blake for Carlos Santana.

          • Except then you are trading a proven commodity for a prospect (a really good one…who looks to have superstar potential). At least in that case, you could make the argument about how prospects sometimes turn into Brandon Wood. With the angels they could very with a great deal of certainty figure out what they were getting and giving, and somehow still thought it was a good idea.

          • VegasANGELSFan 4 years ago

            I hear you, that one was (and most likely will end up being) pretty bad. But, at the time the Dodgers were trying to make the playoffs, and I think even though Santana had a decent amount of upside, he was playing in A ball and had been moved through several defensive positions. The Dodgers got the Indians to pay Blake’s remaining salary (or most of it), and they made their playoff run. The Angels didn’t trade away any top level prospects, but they did trade Napoli who very well may crush the ball with every day playing time. Pretty much any Angels fan would tell you they wanted to see Nap in the lineup daily, but the Angels didn’t like his defense and wouldn’t play him. But, I digress, the Angels took a long term bad contract on a player on the downside that will affect their financial flexibility for years to come, and gave up Napoli. The Dodgers trade of Santana was clearly bad, I just think there is argument that this one may be worse? Am I alone in this sentiment?

          • Carlos Santana would have to retire this year for the deal to correct its self

      • bjsguess 4 years ago

        That’s an interesting take Tim. Basically the Angels overpaid by $6-7m/year. While horrible it’s far from being the worst move of all time (as long as you use this valuation). Keep in mind that the Angels are paying GMJ $11m to watch baseball from the comfort of his living room.

        Personally, I wouldn’t have paid him more than $10m/year and no more than 3 years. In that light the dollars look a lot worse. I still think the Angels are upside down at least by $40m.

    • jb226 4 years ago

      The $90MM+ comment must have been from an agent.

  4. stl_cards16 4 years ago

    “Wells had a strong bounceback year last year and the market was WEAK for guys who can play center field…Wells would have commanded six years at $15-17MM a year for a contract anywhere from $90-102MM over the life of the contract.”

    Would the person who said this work for the Angels?

  5. bamf9 4 years ago

    I wouLdt go passed 2 years at maybe 10 mil a year.

  6. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    •”Wells had a strong bounceback year last year and the market was WEAK for guys who can play center field…Wells would have commanded six years at $15-17MM a year for a contract anywhere from $90-102MM over the life of the contract.”

    JP is that you????

    • rzepczynski 4 years ago

      jp never wanted to sign that contract it come from the front office (allegedly)

      • crashcameron 4 years ago

        Then Jays’ prez Paul Godfrey, lifelong schmoozer and master spender of other people’s money: that’s my candidate

    • HerbertAnchovy 4 years ago

      Yeah, I thought that one was ludicrous. I was thinking someone in the Angels front office must have said that.

    • East Coast Bias 4 years ago

      It definitely sounds LIKE him. He always CAPITALIZES random words in our emails ALSO.

    • RushToGalt 4 years ago

      That has got to be Jim Hendry…

  7. Nick Sossamon 4 years ago

    This contract wasn’t just bad from a monetary standpoint, its bad for the future of the team and the direction we should have been heading in by finally getting rid of bad contracts and letting our young, talented farm system mature.

    We would have been rid of Kazmir, Rodney, Gary Matthews Jr. and Abreu’s contracts by 2013 and been set up for some of our younger guys (namely Amarista, Segura, Chatwood, Richards and Trout) to start contributing while having massive financial flexibility as well. Now we’re stuck with yet another albatross for four years while still being a league average team needing to get younger, faster and more disciplined. Vernon Wells brings none of those attributes to the table, and he isn’t enough to keep us competitive in a division that’s getting better and better.

    • bjsguess 4 years ago

      There is a TON coming off the books after this season (heading into 2012).

      — GMJ ($11.4m)
      — Joel Pineiro ($8m)
      — Rodney ($5.5m)
      — Kazmir ($14.5m)
      — Abreu (possibly … $9m)

      That’s a total possible of $50m … although I bet that Abreu’s option vests.

      In the 2012 off-season we have another few big ones coming off – namely Hunter and Santana (about $30m between the two of them). Also a bunch of arb guys will be hitting FA. They will either be resigned or landing us potential draft picks. Included are Aybar, Izturis, Kendrick, Weaver and Mathis.

      What’s really interesting to me is what the Angels do if they continue to play the way they have to open the season. So far, it’s a repeat of 2010. Decent starting pitching, terrible situational hitting, and a bullpen that can’t get anyone out (exceptions to Walden and Kohn). Looking at these names would the team dare to break the thing up and restart? Weaver would get you a king’s ransom. Haren would be right there as well. Hunter would be attractive to a contending team that needs a CF’er. You would shave $40m off today’s payroll, add a bunch to your farm system and be in a position to shed another $40m in the next off-season.

      The team would suck, but honestly if they are going to be an 80 win team with a $130m payroll that’s not great. Would much rather see them as a 70 win team with an $85m payroll AND a stocked farm system. They would be poised in 2013 to have talent ready for the bigs plus huge amounts of cash for fill in any gaps.

      • Nick Sossamon 4 years ago

        Yeah, I’ve thought about this for a while as well. Possibly trading Weaver to get a haul of great prospects is a tempting idea since I highly doubt we have the ability to resign him as a Boras client, and the team as it stands isn’t playoff bound anyways. Not to mention the fact that he’s under contract for next year as well, its fun to imagine what we could get for him when starting pitching is always at a premium.

        • I hear there is an AL east team with a deep farm looking for SP (and doesn’t shy away from Boras agents).

          Washington could possibly be a match too.

          • bjsguess 4 years ago

            The thought of Weaver or Haren in NY would have to get their fan base pumped. Considering the minimal cost in terms of dollars I just to have to believe that the Angels would get the pick of their system.

            A great match-up for Weaver would be a competitive Padres team. With his reasonable paycheck (this year) plus that extreme flyball park Weaver could just utterly dominate. I don’t think the Pads make a ton of sense unless they are contending but they have the trade chips assuming they are willing to move pieces received from the Gonzalez trade.

      • crashcameron 4 years ago

        bjs, you finally calling for a blowup? love it. be careful, though, of two things. counting on the next wave of “deep” (?) farm system might not get you more than the last wave did (still untapped potential). and I don’t know what is worse. Stonemans’ stone-cold refusals to deal. Or Reagins’ intermittent decisions to deal?

  8. cardstonrules 4 years ago

    And how many front executives would have predicted Jason Werth to get the contract he did?

  9. mikecav19 4 years ago

    Dear Angels,

    Would you be interested in Carlos Lee?


    Ed Wade

    • JacksTigers 4 years ago

      Now if only Dave Dombrowski took advantage of the Angels “good nature” a couple years ago with all of our bad contracts.

    • vtadave 4 years ago

      Can he pitch?


      B. Cashman

  10. wes45 4 years ago

    Angels fan, take solace. At least Bill Bavasi isn’t your GM. As a Mariners fan, I can say from rueful experience that he would have given Toronto his 3 best prospects AND extended the Wells contract for another 3 years at $25M per. His idiocy knew no bounds.

  11. Braydon Gervais 4 years ago

    Dear Angels Fans,



    Toronto Blue Jays Fans

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      there’s no need for that.

    • bjfan 4 years ago

      You embarass jays fans with talk like that. grow up.

    • bjfan 4 years ago

      You embarass jays fans with talk like that. grow up.

    • JacksTigers 4 years ago

      Dear Braydon Gervais

      AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! You just got burned!



    • HerbertAnchovy 4 years ago

      Dear everyone else,

      This fool doesn’t represent us as fans.

      Toronto Blue Jays Fans.

  12. JayTeam 4 years ago

    As a Jays fan, everything Vernon has done shows him to be a class act, and I wish him all the best in Anaheim. That said the Angels front office conducted the off season like amateurs, losing out on Crawford and Beltre and then seemingly panicking by trading for Wells.

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      Vernon’s charity initiatives are outstanding.

    • bjsguess 4 years ago

      I don’t think you can say that they lost out on either player. Clearly the team had the money to land either Beltre or Crawford. Both players simply exceeded what the team was comfortable paying them. I completely agree with their assessment. I would commit a $150m to Crawford or $100m to Beltre either.

      Your last point on Wells though is spot on. The team did panic and made a move borne out of desperation. Acquiring Wells is a risky move. Taking on his entire contract is made even worse. Including Napoli in the deal was just horrid.

  13. 4 years @ 17 million a year for Wells vs 6 years at 16 million a year for Beltre. 3B will be better than last year with Izturis and Callaspo. Doesn’t make it good, but it is acceptable. The Angels needed a LF that was a middle of the order bat and they got it. he difference is Wells is gone after his age 35 season and gives the Angels the best defensive OF in baseball. Beltre would have been in Anaheim as a 3B through his age 37 season.

    Was it a good deal? No, but it certainly was better than paying Beltre. He’s only performed really well in contract years, all other years he averages .267 29 DB 19 HR. That’s basically Casey Blake right there.

    Wells was the right player to trade for, it wasn’t popular, but it was needed and right.

  14. I understand the perspective this article takes on the deal, but my thought is that if we are talking monetary value then you should atleast present all the facts. The Jays are reportedly paying $5million of Wells’s contract, plus they also took on $5million for Juan Rivera. That’s $10million off of Well’s contract, or overpaying by $14million, which is not so bad. Sure you can argue that the Blue Jays also got Napoli and that needs to be factored in, but the Angels got a player who can hit 30HR at CF and that’s much more rare than anything Napoli brings. It’s not like the Jays wanted to trade their CF for merely cap relief, as Vernon has some value. Napoli for a slightly overpaid Wells does not seem like such a bad deal from this perspective.

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