After signing outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran this offseason, it was clear that the New York Yankees needed to make additional moves in order to make room. They did precisely that on Jan. 10 by designating veteran outfielder Vernon Wells for assignment, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.
The Yankees have designated Vernon Wells for assignment, as they create roster spots on their 40-man.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 10, 2014
The Yankees made things official later Friday afternoon:
#Yankees sign LHP Matt Thornton to a 2-year contract through 2015; designate OF Vernon Wells for assignment.— New York Yankees (@Yankees) January 10, 2014
It isn't a particularly shocking decision on New York's part due to the fact that Wells was shaping up to be the team's No. 6 outfielder behind Ellsbury, Beltran, Brett Gardner, Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki.
Despite the abrupt end to his career as a Yankee, Wells took to Twitter to thank the organization.
It was a classy move by a player who has carried himself well over the course of his 15 years in Major League Baseball.
Is DFA'ing Vernon Wells the right move by the Yankees?
Wells made the jump to the Bronx prior to the 2013 season after spending two campaigns with the Los Angeles Angels. The Yankees were desperate for hitting depth with Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira on the shelf, so Wells became a key player for New York.
He got off to an incredible start with a .300 batting average, six home runs and 13 RBI in the month of April, but he finished the year at just .233 with 11 homers and 50 runs driven in. His play dropped off sharply, and his playing time was sporadic thereafter.
Due to his steep drop-off, it remains to be seen if any teams will be interested in the 35-year-old righty. Wells is just a few years removed from a 31-homer season and an All-Star nod, so perhaps there is something left in the tank.
The Yankees simply couldn't keep him around to find out, though, since roster spots are of the essence, according to Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal.
Vernon Wells DFA'd by the Yankees. On a crowded roster, he simply didn't have a place anymore. Well, he'll always have that great April/May.— Daniel Barbarisi (@DanBarbarisi) January 10, 2014
Also, while the move may look like a cost-cutting measure on the surface because of Wells' $21 million contract in 2014, none of that would have counted toward the magic $189 million salary mark that will trigger huge luxury tax dues should the Yankees surpass it, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Further proof #Yankees are ignoring $189M aim: DFAd Vernon Wells, who cost them $0 for 2014 against payroll for luxury tax purposes— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 10, 2014
That obviously means that the Yankees are more worried about shaping their roster with the best possible players than maneuvering under the $189 million ceiling.
It's possible that they could still do both depending upon what other moves are made moving forward, but general manager Brian Cashman and the rest of the front office certainly seemed to make a statement.
Wells isn't the same player that he once was, but he is a three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award winner, so hopefully he lands on his feet prior to the 2014 season.
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