Winners and Losers of Vernon Wells to New York Yankees Trade

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2013

Winners and Losers of Vernon Wells to New York Yankees Trade

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    It was just last month that I looked at why a trade for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Vernon Wells or former Yankee and current Chicago Cub Alfonso Soriano was a bad idea for the New York Yankees.

    Yet despite a need to infuse an aging roster with youth and athleticism, the Bronx Bombers are on the verge of adding a 34-year-old Wells to the mix.

    According to multiple outlets, including Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, a deal that brings Wells to the Bronx will be completed within the next 24 hours:

    Source says the Yankees/Angels deal "will get done." Could be as early as tonight, but Vernon Wells will be a Yankee by tomorrow.

    — Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) March 24, 2013

    Wells, who is due nearly $49 million through the 2014 season, will have the bulk of his salary picked up by Los Angeles, which will receive a low-level minor league player in exchange, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch.

    While the trade isn't costing the Yankees anything significant, and the Angels are moving a player for which they had no real use, there are pros and cons—winners and losers—to such a move for both teams.

    Let's take a look at who and what is affected most by the deal.

     

    UPDATE: Tuesday, March 26

    The deal is official.

    According to ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews, the Yankees have traded a pair of low-level minor leaguers to Los Angeles in exchange for Wells—outfielder Exicardo Cayones and left-handed pitcher Kramer Sneed.

    New York also agreed to pay $14 million of the remaining salary on Wells' contract

Winner: Vernon Wells

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    Going from a situation where he was nothing more than a reserve outfielder and pinch hitter to a spot where he'll get regular playing time for at least the first month of the season?

    That makes Vernon Wells a winner in this deal.

    Wells walks into New York with no expectations whatsoever placed upon his shoulders. That's what happens when you post a .222/.258/.409 slash line over the past two years.

    For what it's worth, as ESPN's Buster Olney notes, Wells has looked considerably better this spring than he has in quite a while:

    Take it for what it's worth: Talked to two scouts who thought Vernon Wells looked better in spring training, with a quicker bat.

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) March 24, 2013

    Unfortunately, as Yankees fans are well aware, spring training success often does not carry over into the regular season.

Loser: Melky Mesa

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    Despite rather weak spring training numbers this season—his .189/.246/.358 slash line barely meets the requirements to be called "weak"—26-year-old Melky Mesa had a legitimate chance to break camp with the Yankees, likely as part of a left field platoon with Brennan Boesch.

    Arguably the most major league-ready outfielder in the Yankees' farm system, Mesa is now guaranteed a spot with the team's Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton-Wilkes Barre RailRiders. He hit .230 with nine home runs and 21 RBI in 33 games last season there.

    Instead of finding out what the team has in Mesa, it continues its never-ending search for the next reclamation project. 

Winner: Los Angeles Angels

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    With Mark Trumbo entrenched as the team's designated hitter and Kole Calhoun the fourth outfielder, Vernon Wells served no real purpose in Los Angeles.

    Yet the Angels, with such a large financial commitment to Wells, had no choice but to keep him around.

    As Los Angeles isn't expected to be receiving anything other than a low-level minor leaguer from the Yankees, general manager Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia now have an open spot on the team's 25-man roster to play with.

    That gives the team flexibility.

    Do the Angels carry an extra pitcher? Does Hank Conger break camp with the club despite his difficulties in throwing the ball from behind the plate? (Remember Rube Baker from Major League 2? That's pretty much how Conger has looked this spring.)

    The possibilities are endless.

Loser: Brennan Boesch

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    Signed to a one-year contract by the Yankees earlier this month after being cut by the Detroit Tigers, Brennan Boesch was going to be at least a part-time player in New York. As previously mentioned, the likely scenario was that Boesch would platoon with Melky Mesa in left field.

    Now, Boesch finds himself relegated to the bench and fourth-outfielder duty.

    While he will still see playing time, it isn't likely to be on a regular basis. That ensures he isn't going to have a chance to get into a groove and prove to the team that he may be a long-term solution in one of the corner spots.

Winner: New York's Outfield Defense

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    If there's a positive to be found for the Yankees in this deal, it's that their outfield defense may have just gotten stronger.

    Wells isn't going to win a Gold Glove award anytime soon. Still, his 3.1 UZR/150 ranked eighth in all of baseball for outfielders who logged at least 500 innings in left field last season, according to FanGraphs.

    No. 3 on that list? Raul Ibanez, who the Yankees seemingly ignored this winter and wound up back with the Seattle Mariners.

    Aside from the occasional home run, Wells' defense may be the only thing that Yankees fans have to cheer about with this acquisition.