Outfielder Vernon Wells has been designated for assignment by the New York Yankees. The Yankees now have ten days to trade, waive or release Wells.
Given Wells' contract situation, he will almost certainly be waived and released, which will make him a free agent.
Wells, of course, has a special place in Texas Rangers lore. In the 2010-11 offseason, the Anaheim Angels tried to sign Adrian Beltre, but wouldn't meet his financial demands. Beltre then signed with the Rangers in January, 2011. A few weeks later, the Angels -- some believe in response to the Rangers adding Beltre -- acquired Vernon Wells and $5 million from the Blue Jays for Juan Rivera and Mike Napoli.
Napoli, of course, was then flipped to the Rangers, and had two terrific seasons for Texas. The Angels owed Wells $81 million of the $86 million he was still owed over the 2011-14 seasons. Wells put up a .222/.258/.409 line in 791 plate appearances in 2011-12 for the Angels...that would have been a disaster at $2 million per year for the Angels, much less $20M+ per year.
With the Yankees needing outfield help in 2013, the Angels sent Wells to New York on the eve of the 2013 season, getting back minor leaguers Exicardo Cayones and Kramer Sneed, while paying $28.1 million of the $42 million he was still owed. Despite a hot start to the 2013 season, Wells ended up the year with a .233/.282/.349 line, meaning that second trade was actually a good one for Anaheim and a bad one for the Yankees. From 2011 to the present, Wells has posted a -0.1 bWAR.
Before folks start suggesting that he could be the answer for the Rangers' RH bench bat/possible platoon outfielder, its worth noting Wells had a .269/.318/.379 line against LHPs last year, and a .227/.298/.373 line against LHPs in 2012. In other words, he's not even a worthwhile platoon bench bat option.
My guess is some team will give him a minor league deal and see this spring if he can rebound, and he'll have the opportunity to play AAA ball if he wants. But it seems unlikely he'll be on a major league roster come Opening Day.