Sources: Yanks to get Vernon Wells

Updated: March 25, 2013, 1:01 PM ET
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

TAMPA, Fla. -- The New York Yankees are close to completing a deal to acquire veteran outfielder Vernon Wells from the Los Angeles Angels, according to two sources who requested anonymity.

Wells has a no-trade clause and would have to approve a trade, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney. A source close to Wells also told Olney that Wells would likely approve the trade.

"It'd be a huge change. I don't think it's ever easy saying goodbye, but at the same time, if this were to happen, it's a good group of guys over there," Wells said in Tempe, Ariz. "I'll just get to know a new family."

A source, an executive in the front office of one of the teams involved, told ESPNNewYork.com that the deal would be completed "within 72 hours."

Wells, 34, is in the sixth year of a seven-year deal worth $126 million. He is owed $21 million for each of the next two seasons, but sources said the Angels would have to absorb a substantial portion of Wells' remaining salary before the deal would be completed.

The Yankees' share of the remaining money is said to be about $13 million over the next two seasons, sources told Olney. Because the deal would include more than $1 million changing hands, it must first be approved by commissioner Bud Selig.

"We have discussed a deal with the Yankees," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said, refusing to go into more detail because a trade had not been finalized.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman declined comment on specifics of the deal. He never even used Wells' name when meeting briefly with reporters after the Yankees' 7-6 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at George Steinbrenner Field on Sunday.

"I'm not at liberty to have any conversation publicly about this yet," Cashman said. "I know what you're asking me but there's a lot of i's to dot and t's to cross before you get to the finish line, so that's about all I can give you."

According to sources, Wells' locker at the Angels' spring training camp has been cleared out. The only remaining issues are which prospects the Yankees would part with in exchange for Wells, and how much of Wells' remaining salary will be eaten by the Angels.

Wells, who has played nearly 1,400 of his 1,563 major league games in center field, will be the Yankees starting left fielder, a source told ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand on Monday. This spring, the Yankees have been auditioning Ben Francisco and Brennan Boesch for a possible left-field platoon.

"He will be the every day left fielder," an official with knowledge of the Yankees plans said.

With Curtis Granderson out until May with a broken right arm, Brett Gardner will get most of the time in center field, with Ichiro Suzuki in right. When Granderson returns, Wells becomes the fourth outfielder, but he will get at-bats since the other starters all bat left-handed.

When Wells isn't in the field, he could also serve some time at designated hitter since Travis Hafner also bats from the left side.

At his best, Wells provides a more potent bat than either Boesch or Francisco, but he has been plagued by injuries since signing the seven-year contract extension with the Toronto Blue Jays before the 2007 season.

"Veteran leadership, good guy," said Yankees third baseman Kevin Youkilis of Wells. "He's got power, can play the outfield real well. I've always respected Vernon as a player. It would be great. I never complain about getting guys on the team. I always find good things that guys can do on this team. If he comes here, I bet he can do a good job of helping us try to win."

Over the past six seasons, Wells has suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery, a broken wrist, and two hamstring strains that have limited his playing time and reduced his production.

In the three seasons following the signing of the extension, Wells averaged .275 with 22 home runs and 77 RBIs per year for Toronto. Following the 2010 season, the Blue Jays traded Wells and his huge contract to the Angels for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera -- who is now a Yankee and expected to start at first base in place of the injured Mark Teixeira.

In his two seasons with the Angels, Wells has averaged .222 with 18 home runs and 47 RBIs per season. Last year, Wells played in just 77 games, batting .230 with 11 home runs and 29 RBIs.

"We haven't seen a lot of him in the last two years, just because he was hurt some and we don't see the Angels much," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "But I know when he was in our division he was a very good player."

Information from ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney and The Associated Press was used in this report.

Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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