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— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Blue Jays - Signed Wells
Toronto Blue Jays - Signed CF Vernon Wells to a 7-year contract.
This contract comes in at a hefty $126 million. Is Wells overpaid at this price? Certainly - in his off-years, he’s a really good player, not a great one. But this is the type of player you overpay, a player that you can’t easily develop on the farm. As a GM, I should be able to produce players that are as good as Gary Matthews Jr. or Juan Pierre. To develop players as good as Vernon Wells, on the other hand, I also need a little bit of fortune to go my way. What the Jays need to do, however, since they’re never going to be an insane revenue-generating team, is show some belt-tightening at the margins. That means doing things like not even giving a million to an utterly useless player like Royce Clayton. It means not paying part of Koskie’s salary to make him go away because you’re impatient and hanging onto pitchers like Doug Davis and Dave Bush. It means finding your own LOOGY instead of Scott Schoneweis If the Jays can cut merely $3 million a year in marginal players each year of Wells contract, suddenly it’s a 7 year, $105 million contract which looks much, much nicer.
The contract is heavily backloaded after an opt-out clause, so the Jays have a nice window where they better use the savings intelligently as Wells isn’t getting paid like a superstar until 2010 - with the signing bonus, he’ll still make a maximum of $10 million up until 2010 when the salary plus the last year of the bonus sends his compensation up to $20 million.
As noted in one of the threads, Wells isn’t a little guy, so the Jays should do their utmost to keep Wells’ weight from going up too much unless it results in him adding the serious power that would make him a viable $20 million player (in 2010 that is) in leftfield. However, this isn’t one of those Bagwell/Helton signings in which the player’s looked up until 40 as Wells will only be 35 at the end of the contract and there’s obviously no chance of a Dominican Surprise here.
This is a good move for Ricciardi personally as well. Very few GMs last more than 10 years with a team unless there are some playoff appearances. So either Ricciardi gets the Jays to the playoffs over the Red Sox and Yankees and he gets a big reputation boost or he doesn’t, gets to enjoy some cheap years of Wells and leaves the big money contract for his successor to deal with. GMs are rarely given credit for the team they leave behind, for good or for ill.
Seriously, even if Wells was getting $20 million right now, what else could the Blue Jays get for that money? Gil Meche and Jeff Suppan? I’ll take the gold glove centerfielder in his prime with good offensive numbers, thank you very much.
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