It appears Angels outfielder Vernon Wells may be wearing pinstripes soon. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
TEMPE, Ariz. — Angels outfielder Vernon Wells all but confirmed he was being traded to the New York Yankees on Sunday, acknowledging he was “excited” about going to the Bronx and that he had already said his goodbyes in the team’s Tempe Diablo Stadium clubhouse.
“We’ve had some talks, and some were very difficult,” Wells said. “I have some good friends on this team, some great teammates. Goodbyes are never easy.”
Wells said he first learned of trade talks Sunday morning but that the deal wasn’t 100% final as of early Sunday afternoon, when he packed his equipment bag and left the team’s spring-training facility.
Wells, 34, is willing to waive his no-trade clause, but the teams were believed to be haggling over how much of the remaining $42 million on Wells’ contract, which has two years left, the Angels would absorb and what player or players would be going back to the Angels.
"We've discussed a deal with the Yankees, but I'll have no further comment," Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto said. "There are many things we need to overcome."
Deals that involve a significant amount of cash between teams also must be approved by the commissioner’s office.
“There are still approvals that need to be done, some loopholes that have to be jumped through,” Wells said. “I haven’t talked to anybody with the Yankees, and I’m still waiting to hear some things from Jerry.”
Wells has been a huge disappointment since being acquired from Toronto before 2011, batting .222 with 36 homers and 95 runs batted in and a .666 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in two seasons in Anaheim.
He is 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 as well as Mark Trumbo at designated hitter, Wells was slated to be a reserve for the Angels, a reduced role he seemed 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 in an interview last week. “You try to look out for the greater good rather than yourself. That’s the most important thing.”
Said Dipoto in a recent interview about Wells: “He’s been so professional — the way he’s carried himself is the textbook way to handle the situation.”
Wells was not in the lineup for Sunday’s exhibition game against the San Francisco Giants. His departure will ease the pressure on Bourjos, a youngster who can open the season without looking over his shoulder in case he gets off to a slow start.
Wells said he 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 needed to add some power to the lineup.