Mission Impossible? – Moving Vernon Wells


I’m about to rank the best OF prospect in the Jays organization, but I can’t get Vernon Wells out of my mind. The perfect way I can describe his being in Toronto is like that scene in the Godfather III, when Joey Zasa says to Michael “I got a stone in my shoe, Mr. Corleone. A two-bit punk who works for me. The one who thinks he’s related to you.” Alex must feel like Michael did at that moment because it’s no easy task, and although I quoted the Godfather, it seems more fitting to call it Mission Impossible. I know that it’s asking a little bit too much from the new Toronto Blue Jays GM, but I’d like to see him pull off a deal with Vernon Wells included. Could a team be swayed into a deal if the right pieces are included? I’ve seen Alex Anthopoulos do a lot of things in a very short period of time, so I’d like to think think that this impossible mission may be possible after all.

I “dreamed up” two scenarios involving one team as examples that could work, but this is nothing more than cooking dreams and hopes. If the Jays did move Wells, and presumable swallowed part of his salary, the Jays would have only slightly over $7 million in contract obligations in 2011 and none for 2012-2014. It would allow the Jays room to be aggressive in retaining the top talent they get on board and also allow them to add one or two key pieces in FA. Aaron Hill will be looking for a big raise in 2013, and Adam Lind is up next in 2014, so the Jays will still need to be frugal to stay within budget. With that in mind, here’s what I came up with.

The Jays complete a trade with the NY Mets because Jason Bay and Matt Holliday will sign elsewhere, and the Mets already missed out on John Lackey, Jason Marquis and others. Atlanta has added pieces, Philadelphia has added some, and even the Nationals have added big pieces in Marquis, Pudge, and now Capps. The Mets are so desperate to do “something” that they picked up R.A. Dickey this week. The Mets are motivated to get people’s attention and have tried to get Bay on board at a salary that could be made similar to Wells if the Jays pick up a portion of the tab. My scenarios break down as follows:

1 – The Jays send Vernon Wells, Brian Tallet and/or Scott Richmond, and Brad Mills to the Mets in return for Fernando Martinez and a prospect, and the Jays pick up 7 million of the Wells salary through to 2014.

This scenario is easy and straight forward and would fill the gaps that the Mets are trying to fill. Wells could man RF and give them a decent OF with Wells-Beltran-Francouer, and Daniel Murphy can move to 1B. If Beltran gets injured, Wells can man centre and once Beltran’s contract expires (and gives the Mets an extra 20 million to spend), the Mets can spend elsewhere. This scenario is more likely to come to fruition than my second since it accomplishes what the Mets have been trying to do all off season while still cutting costs in comparison to 2009.

A more complicated and outlandish scenario is as follows:

2 – Jays send CF Vernon Wells (16 million in 2010, 26.6 million in 2011, 24.6 million in 2012, 2013, and 2014), 1B Lyle Overbay (7.95 million in 2010), RP Scott Downs (4 million in 2010), 7 million per season to cover part of the Wells salary, and SP/RP Brian Tallet or Scott Richmond, and SP Brad Mills while the Mets send OF Fernando Martinez, SS Reese Havens, and 1 other prospect to the Jays.

It does sound like a lot to give up for a few prospects, but it would solve the majority of the Mets issues and provide them with the flexibility they need to get back in contention in the NL East. They gain an OF who can play CF or LF when Beltran is healthy, get a much cheaper option at 1B than what is available on the FA market, add a major piece to their pen in Downs, as well as a starter possibility in Brian Tallet. While he isn’t the ideal option as a starter, Tallet proved effective in the AL last year and should do a little better in the NL with the experience gained last season. The cost total for the Mets (after subtracting the 7 million covered by the Jays) who be: 23.95 million in 2010 – which makes their salary obligations approximately $120,000,000 and keeps them below their 2009 level of 149,000,000, 19.6 million for Wells in 2011, and 17.7 million in 2012,13 and 14 – still for Wells. Beltran becomes a FA in 2012, so making this deal would relieve pressure on the Mets to resign one of their main pieces, and he takes 20 million per season off the table with him.

Not only does this outlandish idea make sense for the Jays, it’s something they need to evaluate with every team out there. Look to the Angels, to the Dodgers, to Texas, to Washington, whatever it takes. In the scenarios listed above, sure, the Jays lose a 1B, RP, RP/SP, and their CF, as well as $7 million per season, but they also gain a ton of flexibility and one or two top end prospects. Adding a CF like Fernando Martinez to their core of Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, Travis Snider, and Brett Wallace would make this offence one of the more exciting and young ones in MLB, not to mention one of the cheapest. The Jays would still need to add value with the other two prospects, but I do believe that it’s these kinds of outlandish scenarios that will allow Vernon Wells to be dealt.

It’s on my Christmas present list to the big man and I do hope he delivers. I’m sure that as much as Vernon puts on a good face for the cameras and says he’s happy in Toronto, he can’t be too excited to be on a rebuilding team at his age. I expect he’d approve a trade to a contender, just as Roy did.

That’s it for this Christmas wish. This post will self destruct in 365 days.