The New York Yankees designated outfielder Vernon Wells for assignment Friday with the three-time All-Star set to earn $21 million in 2014. Wells actually broke the story himself on Twitter, kindly thanking the Yankees "for the opportunity to be a part of such a storied franchise." He added the hashtags #Blessed and #NextChapter.
The Yankees also made official the signing of left-hander Matt Thornton, and he gets Wells' roster spot.
Wells, who just turned 35 years old, batted .233/.282/.349 with 11 home runs in 458 plate appearances for the Yankees. A long way from being an All-Star in 2010, Wells came over in a trade for Angels minor leaguers in March as the Yankees suffered a spate of injuries.
Wells might become the most expensive player to be released — if that's what happens — in major league history. Players designated for assignment are removed immediately from the 40-man roster, and the team is given 10 days to take one of four possible actions:
• Put the player on waivers (which can only be done within seven days) so another team can claim him
• Trade him
• Release him
• Outright him to the minors (and they'd need Wells' permission for that — which he probably won't give, given his tweet saying good-bye)
The Yankees (or Wells' next team) won't have to pay most of what he's owed for the final year of the $126 million deal he signed with the Blue Jays after the 2007 season. Baseball-Reference and other sources say $18.6 million will be paid by the Los Angeles Angels, his previous team. No matter if Wells plays again, he was never able to live up to the improbable expectations the contract set.
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