Face it, Vernon Wells is untradeable

Are you serious?

That was my reaction upon reading Bob Elliott’s Vernon Wells-for-Milton Bradley story this weekend. In case you missed it:

“The Chicago Cubs would like to — have to — deal disgruntled outfielder Milton Bradley. And one player they are eyeing as a target destination is the Blue Jays, with centre fielder Vernon Wells going to the Cubs in return.

“It’s early on, but we think this one has some legs,” said one Cubs official. “But they aren’t the only team we are talking with.”

Bradley, 31, who was suspended for the remainder of the season by the Cubs on Sept. 20, has two years and $21 million US remaining on his contract.

Wells has six years left on his contract extension, $107 million remaining, including the $8.5-million final instalment of his signing bonus, which is due in March. Team president Paul Godfrey and former general manager J.P. Ricciardi signed Wells to the contract extension.

The Cubs suspended Bradley a day after he criticized the team in a newspaper interview, knocking the organization and saying: “You understand why they haven’t won here in 100 years.”

The Cubs’ idea is to split the difference on monies owed — Wells’ $107 million and Bradley’s $21 million for a difference of $86 million. Each team absorbs $43 million.”

Of course, the Cubs later denied the rumours. Makes sense, considering it would be utter stupidity to trade for Wells. I don’t think I can properly describe the level of desperation needed to make the deal… let’s go over some of the reasons:

  1. Wells has the worst contract in Major League Baseball. As outlined above, he’s owed over $100 million dollars. For six years. For a declining player. Wow. Wells has one of the largest contracts in baseball history, up there with Alex Rodriguez, etc… I get a little sick just thinking about it.
  2. Wells was absolutely terrible at the plate this season, but I think most fans still don’t realize just how bad he was. Of ALL qualified outfielders in Major League Baseball, Wells was fourth from the bottom in OPS (On-base plus Slugging), ahead of only Garret Anderson, B.J. Upton and Randy Winn. The good news? He wasn’t dead last.
  3. Shockingly, Wells was EVEN WORSE in the field. Casual fans assume that Vernon is still above average in centre field, but he’s actually the worst everyday CF in Major League Baseball. Digest that for a minute… Yes, defensively, Vernon Wells is the worst at his position. I could demonstrate this with pretty much any of today’s advanced metrics, and I’ve chosen to go with UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating), which has proven to be very accurate. In 2009, Wells finished dead last in UZR… yes, a shocking decline for a former gold glove CF.
  4. Unfortunately for Wells, other advanced metrics are just as harsh. RAR (Runs above Replacement) and WAR (Wins above Replacement) can be used to demonstrate a player’s overall value to their team, using both offense and defense. The 2009 statistics show that Vernon Wells was THE FOURTH-WORST PLAYER IN BASEBALL THIS SEASON. Seriously, only Aubrey Huff, Jermaine Dye and Yuniesky Betancourt hurt their teams more. Even funnier (or sad), those four players (Vernon included) were the ONLY four to have NEGATIVE ratings in WAR and RAR. Literally, every other player in baseball had a better season, and that’s absolutely insane. Technically, Wells should have to pay the Jays to let him play, since he sure isn’t contributing to wins. Oh, who was fifth-last on that list? Alex Rios. You can’t make this stuff up.

So, assuming that professional General Managers aren’t complete idiots, it’s safe to say that Vernon Wells cannot be moved. How could anyone justify taking a negative contributor who happens to make more money than almost anyone else? It’s mind-boggling to realize how far Wells has fallen, and I’d like to hope GMs understand the data I’ve just laid out.

That being said, I hope they don’t. Actually, forget everything I just wrote – Please, Cubbies, take Vernon. That Milton Bradley trade would be an early Christmas present… WHO CARES if Bradley’s a headcase. He hit better than Wells last year, and makes half the salary. But really, this isn’t about Bradley. It’s about Vernon Wells, and the fact that he’s untradeable. Yes, even for someone else’s garbage. Sorry, Jays fans, but it’s the truth.


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November 2, 2009 1:25 pm

over/under on the number of games Wells bats in the 3-5 spots in the line-up under Cito this year? my guess is no fewer that last year, and that is the reason why Cito needs to be moved out asap.

i can’t believe that after the mediocrity show that JP’s tenure turned out to be the Jays are heading down the same road again by failing to commit to one direction. if this team is rebuilding then there is no reason whatsoever to have Cito here.

November 2, 2009 1:50 pm

This post is more frightening to Blue Jays fans than anything we might have seen over Halloween.

Al from Burlington
Al from Burlington
November 2, 2009 3:22 pm

I have faith that Wells will rebound from a terrible two year slump, and we will learn he has had a serious injury he was hiding. I mean it is hard too imagine a players talent level falling off this badly, so quickly.

But I am not holding my breath.

November 2, 2009 3:50 pm

Al, is it really that hard to imagine?
Steroid use was widespread in baseball and for all we know wells might have been juicin and hence put up large numbers.

November 2, 2009 4:16 pm
Reply to  LeafFan1989

Personally, it’s a little hard to believe he’d fall THIS far. From near-elite status to literally the worst player in the league? There doesn’t seem to be any reasonable explanations, even steroids. One thing to note is that Wells hit much, much better on the road. Did the fans get in his head?

As for his defense, I have no idea what happened.

Roy Green
November 2, 2009 6:23 pm

Vernon for Bradley sounds like Paul Bernardo for Clifford Olson.

January 24, 2011 4:51 am

HaHaHa, he got traded & shocked everyone that AA could move the contract…….but he did with assets coming back and a reported $5million going to the Angels. And only about a year after this post, who woulda thunk?


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