Update: Yankees announce Matt Thornton signing


4:14pm: The Yankees have officially announced Matt Thornton‘s two-year contract and confirmed Wells has been designated for assignment.

1:16pm: According to his Twitter feed, the Yankees have cut ties with Vernon Wells. Buster Olney says he was designated for assignment. The Yankees need 40-man roster space for both Brian Roberts and Matt Thornton and this clears one spot. Wells, 35, hit .233/.282/.349 (70 wRC+) last season and although he would have counted as $0 against the luxury tax in 2014, the team still owes him $2.4M in real dollars. The Angels owe him $18.6M.

Categories : Asides, Transactions


  1. LK says:

    A fitting conclusion to a move that really couldn’t have ended any other way. Hopefully this serves as a lesson: no matter how desperate you are for help at a certain position, no matter how much a contract fits in your scheme to avoid the luxury tax, spending 8 figures on a guy who sucks at baseball is a bad idea.

    • lightSABR says:

      Amen. I hope Hal, and Levine, and Cashman all keep pictures of Vernon Wells on their desks as a reminder not to repeat last year’s offseason.

      Cutting him now is happening because they were morons back then.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

        Better to correct your mistakes late rather than never.

        • LK says:

          Exactly. As awful as the initial decision was, at least they’re capable of admitting it was a mistake.

          It’s a shame, really. Vernon Wells seems like a nice guy who works hard, and he didn’t force anyone to give him that contract, but he’ll pretty much solely be remembered for being comically overpaid.

          • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

            I would have had no problems with him on the team if he’d cost 1-3 million. I mean he still would have sucked, but we could have appreciated his contributions, especially april, more than we do.

            • LK says:

              For $1 million, it would have been fine, though giving him a roster spot is still probably not the best use of resources even if he’s free. But yeah, picking up that much of the contract was totally batshit from day 1.

  2. DR says:

    Addition by subtraction! Today’s a good day.

  3. TWTR says:

    One of the dumbest moves they have made was trading for such a terrible player.

  4. Colombo says:

    Thanks for April 2013, Vernon!

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

      That was one expensive month.

      • lightSABR says:

        How would you like to be the Angels, still paying him almost $20 million next year?

        • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

          At least they’re not paying him to play baseball, I guess.

          • LK says:

            The Angels are amazing. They sunk like 70M in Pujols, Hamilton, and Wells last year, and got almost nothing to show for it. They basically pissed away an entire payroll, and they weren’t even that bad. Mike Trout can really cover up some warts.

            • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

              Yeah when you spend 71M on 4 guys, and 3 of them cost 70 and were worth 0, it helps that the last guy was worth 71M on his own.

              • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

                Note: Math is totally accurate.

                • LK says:

                  Kind of an interesting question – if you can have Trout for 1 year, and know for certain he’d throw up 10 WAR again, what would you pay? In a vacuum that might be worth 70M to the Yanks, though he’d be a pretty bad fit now with so many OF on the roster.

  5. CashmanNinja says:

    It’s rather sad how much Vernon Wells has fallen off the map. He was one of my favorite players when he was with the Blue Jays, but he is a shell of his former self. He’s a nice guy, but he really doesn’t have much left in the tank. I think he could be one of those guys that could latch onto a small market club for the minimum salary and be used strictly in a platoon role. Maybe with a little less pressure and in the right setting he could at least be a league average platoon guy…but I doubt it. He really doesn’t have much left in the tank and was a waste of a much needed roster spot.

    • lightSABR says:

      I agree – I like him, I’m happy that he wanted to play for the Yankees, and I’m happy that he got his chance. A pity that it couldn’t have worked out better, for him and for the team.

      • Chris in Maine says:

        Per MLBTR:

        he Yankees have designated Vernon Wells for assignment, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney (on Twitter). Wells himself tweeted out a thank you to the organization: “Thank you Yankees for the opportunity to be a part of such a storied franchise.”

    • LarryM Fl. says:

      I do not thing its the pressure. Every player faces it someday. You just can not do what you did to get you here. This is on every level. The guys who played H.S. ball ran into a wall at college. College guys may have had good skills but scouts are looking for more than good skills. Every body faces it.

      Vernon has faced it. And we say’”goodby.”

  6. Darren says:

    First of all, it’s not unclear that the Yankees cut ties with Wells. He may have retired. Unlikely, but possible.

    Second of all, for a quarter of the season, signing Wells wass a great move. Ten dingers, nice OBP, passable defense. He was probably the MVP of the first 40 games. It’s not his fault that Grandy got hurt again, that no minor leaguers stepped up, and that he had an equally overexposed counterpart in Ichiro.

    Without the Granderson second injury, Wells might have been a great 4th or 5th outfielder over the course of the year. If fresh, it’s not at all crazy to think he could have pulled an Ibanez in the playoffs. If he sucked from the beginning, the year could have been REALLY over by the end of July. At least we had close to another 6 or 7 weeks of legitimate hope.

    It was nowhere near a dumb move to sign him. Assuming they cut him outright, it just highlights the flexibility of the move, considering the 2014 $0 salary cap hit.

    • LK says:

      You’re saying it was “nowhere near a dumb move” to spend over $10M on a mediocre defensive corner OF who hit 233/282/349 and was worth -.8 fWAR? Can we at least agree that it was *near* a dumb move and go from there?

      • Chris Widger says:

        The point being made is that Wells was never meant to be a permanent everyday player. Had Granderson not suffered his second freak injury of the season the move would have looked pretty good – get some great production into May, then replace him with a starting-caliber player.

        It was all undone when Wells was asked to play almost everyday throughout the rest of the year.

        • LK says:

          I mean sure, but that’s using hindsight. There was no reason to believe going into the move that Wells would be good in April/May, just like there was no reason to believe that Granderson would get hurt again. The move looked bad when it happened, and it turned out bad. The fact that there’s a hypothetical scenario where it wouldn’t have been bad isn’t really all that compelling to me. While the distribution of Wells’ production was interesting, the overall nature of it was exactly what one would have expected – he sucked.

        • Chris Widger says:

          Yes, dollar for dollar it makes no sense, but that was why Wells was available for nothing. Because he was hideously overpaid. Either the Yankees burn money, which they are good at, or they trade a minor prospect, which they are less good at, and how much of a stink would people raise if Vernon frickking Wells cost us somebody we regretted giving up later, like Kontos?

        • qwerty says:

          Doesn’t the fact that wells was only going to be used as a fourth outfielder make this trade an even dumber idea. Who pays 14 million for bench help?

      • Bubba says:

        How many non-mediocre players are available in spring training?
        You can’t look at this trade without perfect situational awareness. Which cannot be taught, by the way. Like a poet’s … mind for … to make the perfect words.

        • LK says:

          I agree that there probably wasn’t anything else available. What I’m saying is that when the choices are spend 8 figures on a sub-replacement level player or stand pat, you stand pat. At some point in the future there will be something better to spend that money on.

          • Darren says:

            “At some point in the future there will be something better to spend that money on.”

            That’s the flaw in your logic. There was nothing better. It took half a season to make the deal for Soriano. The Yankees were not precluded from signing a better player than Wells due to his salary.

            I’m assuming you don’t care whether they spent money that otherwise would have stayed in Hal’s wallet, right? Because that’s insane.

            • LK says:

              “That’s the flaw in your logic. There was nothing better.”

              That’s the flaw in *your* logic. ANYTHING was better.

            • qwerty says:

              Um, no. It didn’t take half a season to make the deal for Soriano. Cashman never wanted Soriano, which was why he went after Wells in the first place. Ownership forced Cashman to get Soriano when it looked like he wasn’t doing enough, and quite frankly Cashman wasn’t. Soriano was the obvious move to make during the offseason when he was actually cheaper in trade value.

          • Chris Widger says:

            Okay, but that was dead money already. It came from Teixiera’s injury insurance. They had to spend it somehow during that season. Unless they intended to make a salary dump trade at the deadline Wells was as good as anything. And there wasn’t anything at the deadline beyond Soriano that fit that description, and they STILL got him.

            • Chris Widger says:

              Frankly, I’d rather the team took a one/two-month gamble on Wells as an everyday player then a 4th outfielder than pocketing the insurance money, which is what a lot of organizations would have done.

          • Bubba says:

            Can you imagine the meltdown if Melky M./Zoilo A. was our opening day RF? We’d have to suffer through comment after comment about how cheap the Yankees were because they pocketed the insurance money.

            The Yankees had lemons and they made lemonade. If Grandy doesn’t get re-injured (fluke), that lemonade would have been pretty sweet.

            • The Great Gonzo says:

              THIS. The only people who woulda been OK with this is the “Let teh Kidz Play!” faction… And only then until Zolio (predictably) looks overmatched by major league pitching after 100 PAs (see: Adams, David)

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

      You know who also has a 0$ cap hit in 2014? All the bad players we didn’t trade for.

      I wasn’t as pissed off as everyone else was about it, but I can’t defend it now either.

      • Darren says:

        I’ll reevaluate my stance if Kramer Sneed or Exicardo Cayones ever make it to the Show. If not, I’m glad Wells’ 5 week last hurrah helped make the year slightly more interesting. It’s not like we stunted a minor leaguer’s growth, and it didn’t stop us from signing anyone better.

    • Mberk15 says:

      Also “nowhere near a dumb move”: Not re-signing Russell Martin. Watching Jersey Shore. Electing Obama. Re-electing Obama.

      • The Great Gonzo says:

        I am actually offended by this comment.

        NOTHING should ever be compared to the stupidity level of watching Jersey Shore, regardless of your political affiliation or catching situation. Real talk.

      • Darren says:

        Not re-signing Martin was definitely very near a dumb move. how do you even put it in the same category as Wells? Wells cost them nothing but money out of Hal’s wallet. Not signing Martin cost them a lot, probably the playoffs.

  7. Matt DiBari says:

    I’ll say the same thing about every non Pavano (and Joba)that rolled through here and failed in recent years. He went out there and tried his best, he just didn’t have anything to offer. He didn’t cause problems, he wasn’t a jackass. No hard feelings, and hell, if someone picks him up and he has a great last year, God bless him.

  8. Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

    I guess it’s not clear, but Olney reported it was a DFA. That’s the Yankees move, not Wells.

  9. Mandy Stankiewicz says:

    I will never forget seeing him play 2B for the Yankees. You can tell the guy has a great attitude. Thanks Vern. (yes he was DFA, his twitter thanked the yankees)

  10. Mr. Pappageorgio says:

    Hooray! No Stewart and no Wells in 2014! Now get Nunez out of there and that’s like +1.5 WAR right there. It’s science.

  11. The Great Gonzo says:

    On one point, we all kinda knew this was inevitable. He was INCREDIBLY bad at baseball post May. I remember being on a camping vacation somewhere in early August and hearing the call when Wells broke out of a 0-alot slump and thinking to myself ‘wow, maybe he’s got something left and he can turn it around…’ I am almost positive that was his last hit of the season.

    However, I thought, from the little exposure we have on what happens behind closed doors, that he seemed to be a classy dude and a good clubhouse guy. It is nowhere near his fault he was offered a shit ton of money and was only able to play to about 1/2 of that for a few years too long.

    I liked the dude, as a person and professional… but so long. Best of luck in Milwaukee or Houston next season

  12. TheEvilUmpire says:

    Our long national nightmare is over…

  13. Mberk15 says:

    I don’t think it can be debated: this is obviously the most impactful move the Yankees have made since buying Babe Ruth from Boston. It’s not every day you can shed your roster of the worst player in North American major team sports.

  14. John C says:

    Bob Nightengale tweeted that the Dodgers have let it be known they are going all out for Tanaka, and don’t plan to be outbid. Casey Close must be hearing “CHA CHING” in his head.

  15. PunkPitch says:

    And Cashman couldn’t find a trade partner willing to take Vernon off their hands, a fringe prospect, or bag of balls? Cashman makes Stand Pat Gillick look like PT Barnum.

    • TWTR says:

      I’m hardly a Cashman defender, but if you were a rival GM, what would you give up and why?

      Wells is worthless. Given the Yankees’ roster issues, it was beyond obvious that he would be DFA’d.

      So if for some reason another team wants him, they would be confident that all they had to do was wait to get him for free.

    • LK says:

      Serious question: what would you give up for Vernon Wells? Follow-up question: do you think there are MLB GMs who know significantly less about baseball than you?

      • vicki says:

        RAJ knows less than your little sister. i may have once said the same about colletti, but a checkbook covers a multitude.

  16. Bavarian Yankee says:

    Wells said several times that he’ll retire after his current contract, so that would be at the end of this year. Now that he’s a FA: if he officialy retires now does he forfeit the remaining money he’d get? Would it matter anyway because he’s a FA? Would he have to be a FA all year long until he can officialy retire without losing money?

    btw: I’m just assuming he has no desire to play anymore, obviously he’d get the money if he signs somewhere else or just doesn’t retire for the time being.

    anyway, good luck to Vernon. He didn’t help much on the field but he always seemed to be a pretty nice guy.

    • Darren says:

      If he retires at any point before the end of the contract, he forfeits the money remaining on the deal at the point of retirement. Otherwise, he will continue to receive paychecks from the Yankees and Angels til the end of the 2014 season.

      Cashman can still make a deal for him, and I think he can find a trade partner willing to give up some organization fodder for Wells. Yankees offer to pay pick up the full $2.4mm they still owe and they can get a AA non prospect. Wells still has value as a veteran presence and possible bat off the bench. Hell, he’s more valuable now than Ben Francisco was last year.

  17. Need Pitching & Hitting says:


  18. Tom says:

    While the Wells trade was just dumb, what helped enable it was the scrap heap philosophy to roster building.

    Going into the season the Yankees “plan” was a bunch of MiLB contracts to guys like Juan Rivera as the 4th OF’r and see what sticks. And this was kind of a key position as the Yankees went with a scrap heap DH (Hafner), so they were potentially only going to carry one reserve OF’r (not to mention having 3 left handed starting OF’s). If they actually addressed this need in the offseason, does the Wells trade happen?

    It’s one thing to fill out the 24th or 25th man on the roster with a scrap heap pickup, but with the stars and scrubs approach of signing 15+mil players or nothing, the # of bargain bin guys on the roster that the Yankees are trying to catch lightning in a bottle with, is increasing over time.

    I’ve mentioned this before but the only guys on this team making between 6mil and 15mil are Jeter and Ichiro. Everyone else is either 15+ or below 6mil. At some point the Yankees need to pass on the big name and sign a couple of Infante or Feldman types who won’t be sexy signings but will add some quality depth to an increasingly top heavy roster. Then maybe the Wells desperation type trades don’t happen when the inevitable injuries occur – hopefully that is part of the lesson they learn from this (in addition to not trading for shitty players).

    • TWTR says:

      It’s about development (or the lack thereof) more than anything else. Until or unless they get that right, they will underperform unless they spend like crazy, and it’s why they HAVE to sign Tanaka.

    • BFDeal says:

      So, you would feel better if they signed Marlon Byrd and Chris Young instead of Beltran and Ellsbury? After all, Byrd is making $8M and Young $7.25M.

  19. BrianMcCannon says:

    As happy as one should be about this, I’ll always remember Vern as the inspiration for my first handle on here. Godspeed.

  20. RetroRob says:

    I thought Vernon Wells had pictures and would never be cut? Just like Chris Stewart would never be gone. Just like Jason Nix…

    Ahh, yes, fans and their theories.

  21. 2nd highest paid player on the Angels this year.

  22. KeithK says:

    Seems to me the Yankees won’t use the 40 man spot on either Roberts or Thornton at the moment. Unless there’s some sort of deadline for making those deals official it would make more sense to hold onto the spot at least until the Tanaka situation is sorted out.

  23. Rick Bladt Attack says:

    And the pitching machine claims another victim…

  24. WhittakerWalt says:

    Merry Christmas to me.

  25. Wheels says:

    I could envision Vernon Wells as a broadcaster. Seems like a natural.

  26. forensic says:


  27. forensic says:

    No press conference for Thornton?

    Mrs. Thornton’s gonna be pissed that she doesn’t get flowers from Cashman…

    • RetroRob says:

      Speaking from experience with my former wife, Mrs. Thornton will have to get by spending the millions her husband will be making from the Yankees. (Note: Not millions in my case!)


  28. Tom says:

    So who’s the next 40man casualty for Brian Roberts?

    Does anyone know if the Arod suspension is announced, does he still count on the 40man? And if not, do they have to wait until the beginning of the season for that spot or can they clear that spot as soon as the suspension is announced?

  29. RetroRob says:

    Not to distress my fellow RABers after hearing the good news of Wells’ departure, but it doesn’t mean he won’t be back. Some other team has to take him, otherwise the Yankees could pick him right back up at no cost or impact to the luxury tax once they clear room on the 40-man before Opening Day.

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