The Yankees acquired Vernon Wells from the Los Angeles Angels at the end of Spring Training last season. He got off to a great start with the team, them slumped himself into an occasional pinch-hitting role as the season went on.
Now the Yankees have six outfielders on the roster after the offseason additions of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, and now Wells — and maybe Ichiro Suzuki, too — figures to be the odd man out of the group. But Wells doesn’t want to be someone else’s problem. He want’s to stay in the Bronx.
“Hopefully I’ll get one more year with” the Yankees, Well said on MLB Network Radio Thursday.
Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano also join Wells, Ichiro, Beltran and Ellsbury in the crowded outfield. The Yankees have been getting plenty of calls on Gardner, but have no intent on moving him. He’ll likely be the starting left fielder with Ellsbury in center and Beltran in right field to start the season.
Soriano figures to spend most of his time as the DH, while also swapping in and out in the outfield with Beltran. Both Beltran and Ellsbury have a history of injuries, so the Yankees could decided to keep a fifth outfielder, leaving Wells as the top choice to go.
“There’s possibly one spot” up for grabs in the outfield, Wells said, “depending on if there are any moves made between here or there. But I’ve learned not to concern myself with things I have no control over. All I can control is getting ready for spring training and going in, and being ready to help the team in whatever what I can. Whatever role that I end up playing, whether it’s there or somewhere else, I have to be ready and ready to produce.”
Wells got off to a good start last season for the Bombers, hitting .300 in the month of April with 6 home runs and 13 RBIs. His early success made Brain Cashman and company look smart for taking in the former All-Star outfielder past his prime. But his production dropped badly over the rest of the season, hitting just 5 more home runs and finishing with a .233 average in 430 at-bats.
Cashman has said that carrying six outfielders on the Opening Day roster isn’t ideal, and it would be easy to move Wells to anyone looking for him — as long as they aren’t hoping for him to produce. He’s owed $2.4 million in 2014, and his salary won’t count against the luxury tax cap for the Yankees.
When the Angels traded him to the Yanks, they agreed to pay $29 million of the remaining $42 million on his deal. They paid most of the $13 million left last season, and LA will pick up most this season.