It appears Angels outfielder Vernon Wells may be wearing pinstripes soon. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
TEMPE, Ariz. — The Vernon Wells era — or error, as most Angels fans would call it — is coming to an end.
Wells confirmed he is being traded to the New York Yankees, the Angels outfielder saying Sunday that he was "excited" about going to the Bronx and that he had already said his goodbyes in the Angels' clubhouse.
Though the trade wasn't officially announced Sunday, Wells, several hours after leaving Tempe Diablo Stadium with two packed equipment bags, wrote on his Twitter account: "Thankful and Blessed. #Pinstripes."
Wells' locker was cleaned out and his nameplate removed during a 5-4 exhibition loss to San Francisco. Yahoo Sports reported he was en route to Tampa, Fla., where the Yankees train, Sunday night. The deal is expected to be finalized Monday.
"We've had some talks, and some were very difficult," Wells said of his farewell. "I have some good friends on this team, some great teammates. Goodbyes are never easy."
Wells, 34, first learned of trade talks Sunday morning. He agreed to waive his no-trade clause, but the teams had to negotiate how much of the remaining $42 million on Wells' contract the Angels would absorb.
Several reports pegged that figure at about $29 million, meaning the Yankees would pay Wells $13 million over the next two years. Deals involving an exchange of more than $1 million must be approved by the commissioner's office.
"We have discussed a deal with the New York Yankees, but I have no further comment," Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto said. "There are many things we have to overcome."
Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman told New York writers: "There are a lot of I's to dot and T's to cross to get to a finish line when you're doing something."
Wells has been a huge disappointment since being acquired from Toronto for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera before 2011, batting .222 with 36 homers, 95 runs batted in and a .667 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) in two seasons.
He's having a solid spring, hitting .361 (13 for 36) with four homers and 11 RBIs, but with the Angels committed to a starting outfield of Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton and Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo at designated hitter, Wells would have been a reserve, a reduced role he was willing to accept.
"It's a matter of handling it the right way and being a good teammate when you're not playing," Wells said last week. "You try to look out for the greater good rather than yourself."
There was speculation in camp that Manager Mike Scioscia might want to play Wells on a more regular basis if Bourjos, the speedy 26-year-old center fielder, struggled early.
But Wells' departure would seem to ease some pressure on Bourjos, who can now open the season without looking over his shoulder in case he gets off to a slow start.
"I still want to get off to a good start — it's not going to put any less pressure on me now that Vernon is not here," Bourjos said. "I never felt under pressure to do anything but have good at-bats. I just want to play the game I know how to play at a high level."
Though most Angels fans were elated at news of the trade, several players said they will miss Wells.
"He's one of the better teammates I've come across, and I wish him nothing but the best," Trumbo said. "It's unfortunate things didn't go the way he would have liked here, but I think he had a positive impact in the clubhouse and did a lot of positive things on the field."
Wells didn't know what his role with the Yankees would be, but with Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson opening on the disabled list, New York needs power.
"My off-season was geared toward getting back to what I'm capable of doing," said Wells, who batted .273 with 31 home runs and 88 RBIs in 2010. "That was my goal coming into spring, to get my swing back to where it's supposed to be."