Bad Contract of the Day to Swap Jason Bay With: Vernon Wells
After posting his second consecutive subpar season for the Mets, Jason Bay proved his lucrative $66 million, four-year deal was a complete bust. And even though Bay did see his homerun total double (from 6 homeruns to 12 homeruns), he also saw a decline in batting average (from .259 to .245), on-base percentage (from .347 to .329), slugging percentage (from .402 to .374), and ISO (from .144 to .128).
Bay has a guaranteed $35 million over the next two seasons (including his $3 million buyout for 2014), which makes him an incredibly difficult person to trade. However, despite how bad Bay’s contract is, there is a good chance the Mets could swap him for today’s “Bad Contract of the Day to Swap Jason Bay With,” outfielder Vernon Wells.
One of the most surprising trades during the last off-season was seeing the Angels and Blue Jays match-up for a Vernon Wells for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera swap (with the Blue Jays netting the latter). Wells had just enjoyed a renaissance season in 2010, posting a .273/.331/.515 line with 31 homeruns, 88 RBI, 79 runs, and 6 stolen bases. In fact, Wells’ 3.8 fWAR was his highest since 2006 (5.8 fWAR).
But while some people felt the outfielder’s resurgence was a sign of Wells finally living up to his mammoth $126 million, seven-year deal he signed in 2008, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthropoulos knew better. In 2011 for the Angels, Wells predictably slumped back to his usual-self, owning a dismal .218/.311/.412 line. To Wells’ credit, he did post a career-best 11.7 UZR/150 in left field (his first season at the position), almost matched his career .195 ISO with a .194 ISO, and was a victim of an extremely unfortunate .214 BABIP (the worst rate in the Major Leagues). That said, the outfielder also posted his lowest career BB% (3.8% BB%), and highest career K% (16.3% K%).
Unlike Jason Bay, who is “just” owed $35 million over the next two seasons, Wells will make a whopping $63 million over the next three seasons. Given the discrepancy in salaries, there’s a good chance the Angels would kick the Mets some money (say between $5-10 million) to take on Wells for all three seasons. If the Mets were given some salary relief, a Jason Bay for Vernon Wells deal might be feasible, on the surface. Unlike Bay, Wells has not lost his pop and proved to be a competent left fielder. However, since Wells also has zero on-base skills, Sandy Alderson & co.–for good reason–would probably not be interested. Plus, would you rather have Jason Bay for two years or Vernon Wells for three? I’d choose the former.