Vernon Wells: Worst Position Player Contract Ever?

Josh LevittSenior Analyst IJune 19, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 10:  Vernon Wells #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays bats against the Oakland Athletics during a Major League Baseball game on May 10, 2009 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

While it's still too early for us to rush to judgement, the contract the Blue Jays handed Vernon Wells back in 2006 is looking historically bad.

The Blue Jays gave Wells a gigantic contract thinking that he was a franchise player and someone who could lead the Jays to the playoffs and beyond.

But just two years into the contract extension, Wells has looked awfully average and nothing like a franchise player. He has yet to hit more than 20 home runs, drive in 100 runs, or score more than 90 runs since he signed the contract. True, Wells missed a large part of 2008, but his numbers have been way down since he signed the contract in 2006. It's certainly not a good sign for the Blue Jays that Wells's numbers are declining at the beginning of the extension, not the end.

Not only is Wells not producing, but the back end of this contract is absolutely going to kill the Blue Jays in the future. The Blue Jays gave Wells a seven-year $126 million  contract, but a staggering $98.5 million is backloaded over the final five years.

When you take into account that the Blue Jays' payroll is somewhere in the $80-$90 million dollar range, there is a very good bet that a large portion of the Jays payroll will be taken up by a player on the steep decline.

This contract is the type of deal that could cripple the Blue Jays for years to come. It's safe to say that this deal is Zito-esque in size and dollar amount. It's clear that this contract was a blatant panic move by the Blue Jays, who dramatically overpaid for a homegrown player who they believed they could not let go.

But now here comes the main question: will the Vernon Wells contract rank as one of the worst contracts EVER given to a position player? Could it possibly rank up there with the Albert Belle contract? The Mo Vaughn contract?

I absolutely think this contract has the makings to be one of the worst in baseball history. Not only might the Blue Jays have wasted a substantial amount of money for a player they expected big things from, but this deal will hamstring the team to such a capacity that they will have a difficult time investing in impact players.

Now that's a double whammy.