Vernon Wells has a clause in his contract that allows him to opt out and become a free agent after this season.
There was never much chance of him using that to get out of a seven-year, $126 million deal, but those odds are firmly entrenched at 0.00 percent after a career-worst season that has seen the 32-year-old hit .219 with a ghastly .252 on-base percentage and .406 slugging percentage in 121 games.
Wells has three seasons and $63 million left on the deal and predictably told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register that he “wasn’t planning on using it.” Of course, he spun it in a slightly different way:
Why would you waive your no-trade clause [to accept a trade to the Angels] and then opt out one year later? I never really thought about using it. You do a contract and you ask for certain things. That happened to be one I asked for and got. To be honest with you, I think about it as often as I think about the money.
Maybe it’s just society, but people put too much on struggling. All of a sudden, everything is negative–you’re a bad guy; you’re unhappy. It’s a struggle, yeah. But that’s all it is. I’ve struggled before. Baseball is such a different game. You can be an All-Star one year, struggle the next year and become an All-Star again. It is what it is. This is a great place to live, a great place to play. I’ve got a lot of good years left and I look forward to having them there.
Wells could be playing for a last-place team in Antarctica and he’d still never opt out of a three-year, $63 million deal, so the stuff about loving California is a pretty iffy rationalization.
Wells is right that he’s capable of bouncing back from a terrible year, as he did so in 2008 and 2010, but the reason the Angels’ trade for him was so widely mocked at the time is that he could have had strong seasons from now until the end of the contract and still wouldn’t be worth the money or what they gave up to get him. The fact that he completely collapsed just changed the trade from bad to horrendous.
Or, you know, “maybe it’s just society.”
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Cubs have signed pitcher Brett Anderson to a contract, pending a physical. Anderson, apparently, impressed the Cubs during a bullpen session held in Arizona recently. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the deal is for $3.5 million, but incentives can bring the total value up to $10 million.
Anderson, 28, has only made a total of 53 starts and 12 relief appearances over the past five seasons due to a litany of injuries. This past season, he made just three starts and one relief appearance, yielding 15 runs on 25 hits and four walks with five strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings. The lefty dealt with back, wrist, and blister issues throughout the year.
When he’s healthy, Anderson is a solid arm to have at the back of a starting rotation or in the bullpen. The defending world champion Cubs aren’t risking much in bringing him on board.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.
What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.
The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.
Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.