Former Blue Jays with a worse reputation than they deserve
Mo money, mo problems
For many years, the Blue Jays weren’t a team that competed for the biggest free agent stars. One of the main reasons for that was the former club policy of not exceeding five years on any contract offer. That said, there was an exception from back in 2006 when they handed Vernon Wells the biggest contract in franchise history at the time, which was for seven years and 126 million dollars.
From that point on the expectations were absolutely massive for the centre fielder. He had just finished a 2006 campaign that saw him appear in the All-Star game, earn a Gold Glove for his work patrolling the outfield, and even receiving some down-ballot MVP support. Unfortunately that would turn out to be the best season of his big league career, and that meant that a lot of Blue Jays fans were very disappointed.
When I think back to the way that Blue Jays fans talked about Wells at the time, you’d think that he never played again. Instead, he actually earned 8.3 bWAR from 2007-2010, and even returned to the All-Star game in his final season in Toronto. Yes, it was frustrating to see him regress after committing to the Blue Jays for the long-term, but it was way more about the contract that what he was actually doing on the field.
If we’re talking about Wells’ legacy in Toronto, his departure is actually regarded as one of the better front office moves in club history. Alex Anthopoulos somehow found a way to jettison his contract to Anaheim as it was getting to its highest point, and the Blue Jays were actually off the hook for a ton of money. In fact, according to Spotrac.com, here’s how his contract broke down:
2007: 5.6 million
2008: 500,000 (+8.5 million signing bonus)
2009: 1.5 million (+8.5 million bonus)
2010: 12.5 million (+8.5 million bonus)
The Blue Jays sent five million to the Angels as part of the trade that brought them Juan Rivera and Mike Napoli, so in total they paid 50.6 million of his 126 million contract. In fact, over 10 years in the organization he made 61.9 million compared to the more than 67 million the Angels paid him for just two seasons.
All things considered, it seems kinda silly that Blue Jays fans have been so hard on Wells over the years.