There was a time when Vernon Wells was a good player, and a year or two when he was a great player. That time is not now.
The Yankees are reportedly close to acquiring the veteran outfielder from the Angels and would absorb about $13 million of the remaining $42 million owed Wells on the final years of his contract.
1. I can't believe the Angels were able to dump Wells -- and save $13 million in the process.
2. Why would anybody want Wells?
The one thing Wells can maybe still do is hit left-handed pitching. He hit an abysmal .230 AVG/.279 OBP/.403 SLG in 2012 and an even more abysmal .218/.248/.412 in 2011, but at least in 2011 he hit .284/.320/.531 against lefties.
Of course, in his last big season in 2010, when he hit 31 home runs with the Blue Jays, Wells had a huge reverse platoon -- a .291 batting average against right-handers (.895 OPS), .195 (.643 OPS) against left-handers. He also hit .321 at home and .227 on the road in a year when the Jays were being accused of stealing signs.
But even if Wells can hit left-handers, why pay $13 million for that skill? The easiest thing to find in baseball is a right-handed corner outfielder who can hit lefties. There are guys in Triple-A who can do that for the league minimum.
So the Yankees just acquired a hitter who was bad in 2007, bad in 2009, historically awful in 2011 (.248 OBP, lowest OBP by a full-time outfielder since 1904) and bad again in 2012.
Sure, injuries have pushed the Yankees into a corner, but it appears to be a desperate acquisition for a team perhaps heading into desperate times.
Update: Due to a complicated series of accounting tricks, Wells could actually help the Yankees get under the luxury-tax threshold in 2014. So he's low-risk in that regard, but still high-risk when it comes to performance.