Leave it to me to say that there is no news in baseball right now. As soon as I posted that Pujols piece, all hell broke loose.
The Toronto Blue Jays, led by noted ninja Alex Anthopoulos unloaded Vernon Wells and his gaudiest of gaudy contracts to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for catcher/DH/1B Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera.
On a pure talent level, the Angels may have an edge in this deal, but this was clearly a salary dump for Toronto. They get out from under four years and $86-million owed to Vernon Wells and in return get two serviceable major-leaguers who fill urgent needs for 2011. Beyond that, nothing is guaranteed to either player, giving the Jays much more financial flexibility going forward; Rivera is a free agent after this season and Napoli is still in his arbitration years.
The best part of this deal is that the Angels will take on all $86-million still owed to Wells. The Jays get off. Scott. Free.
Juan Rivera can occupy one of the now empty outfield spots (probably leftfield, moving Snider to right) with Rajai Davis most likely manning center until Anthony Gose or Darin Matroianni are ready. Rivera could also be flipped in another trade.
Napoli fits in nicely as an insurance policy behind the plate in case Arencibia shows signs of not being ready and if he is ready, he can DH and play occasional first base.
Napoli has very dramatic splits (.305/.399/.567 against lefties vs. .208/.277/.423 against righties) which set up some really nice platoon options for Toronto with Adam Lind at first base.
As the Wells news began to settle down, the Tampa Bay Rays popped up with some equally significant news; they signed both Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon to one year contracts. Damon’s deal is for $5.25-million and Manny’s is apparently for $2.0-million!!!!
I speculated earlier this week that Manny would get far more than $4-million and I really did think he’d get $6-$8-million. Mind=blown.
I’m a little confused as to why the Rays would get both Manny and Damon considering neither can play outfield, but maybe they are planning an insane DH platoon, who knows?
Both players are still more than competent at the plate and to get them both for under $8-million is nothing less than very impressive.
The Rays and Jays are both fully aware of the kind of savvy it takes to compete in the AL East on a small budget and within minutes, they both showed you why.