The New York Yankees have parted ways with outfielder Vernon Wells.
Wells was designated for assignment in order to make some room on the 40-man roster. He recently became expendable after the Yankees added Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran this off-season to join an outfield that already included Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki and Alfonso Soriano.
“Thank you @Yankees for the opportunity to be a part of such a storied franchise. #Blessed #NextChapter,” Wells tweeted out on Friday afternoon.
The former Toronto Blue Jays outfielder batted .233 with 11 homers and 50 RBI’s in 130 games last season but hit just one home run after May 15. He is still owed $2.4-million by the Yankees as part of the final year of a 7-year, $126-million contract he signed as a member of the Blue Jays back in 2006. At the time it was the sixth largest deal in baseball history and the largest in Toronto history, dwarfing the four-year, $68 million deal signed by Carlos Delgado in 2000.
A team that signs Wells would be responsible for just $500,000, the major league minimum.
The three-time All-Star has a career average of .270 with 270 home runs and 958 RBI's over 15 major league seasons.
Wells was the fifth player taken overall in the 1997 amateur draft by the Blue Jays. He spent 12 seasons with the team before being traded to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in January 2011 for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. Two seasons later he was dealt to the New York Yankees for a pair of minor leaguers.
Also on Friday, left-hander Matt Thornton completed his $7 million, two-year contract with the Yankees.
Thornton gets $3.5 million in each of the next two seasons under the deal, which was agreed to Dec. 17. His contract raises the Yankees’ luxury tax payroll for next season to $175.7 million for 13 signed players.
Including a pending $2 million, one-year deal for second baseman Brian Roberts and an estimated $11.5 million per team for benefits, New York’s tax payroll is at $189.2 million — above the $189 million tax threshold for the upcoming season.
However, Alex Rodriguez’s $27.5 million luxury-tax salary would disappear if his 211-game suspension is upheld by an arbitrator.
The 37-year-old Thornton replaces Boone Logan, who left for a $16.5 million, three-year contract with Colorado. A 10-year big league veteran, Thornton was 0-4 with a 3.74 ERA in 60 relief appearances last season for the Chicago White Sox and Boston, which acquired him in July for minor league outfielder Brandon Jacobs.
(Files from the Associated Press were used in this report)