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.”