What with the terribly conspicuous signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson this offseason, it's easy to forget one important thing about the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim): they're saddled with what may be the most burdensome contract in all of baseball. That contract belongs to, of course, Vernon Wells.
To grimly remind Angels fans, Wells was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays in January 2011 in exchange for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. Oh, and the Angels received a mere $5 million to defray the cost of Wells' contract. And speaking of cost, the Halos will pay Wells $63 million over the next three years.
Last season, Wells authored the worst numbers of his career, which raises the possibility that his contract will worsen from "thoroughly ill-advised" to "boondoggle of unimaginable dimensions." To be sure, Wells is an intelligent, self-aware, funny, and occasionally excellent ballplayer, but he's not worth what he's being paid. That's not his fault, but it's reality. To put a finer point on it, Wells, according to wins above replacement, provided $1.4 million in on-field value in 2011 while being paid more than $26 million. Suffice it to say, that's not a sound investment.
So the question for the Angels, who have legitimate designs on a championship this season, is not whether Wells will somehow be worth the money -- he won't be. Rather, the question is whether he can help them toward their greater goals. The answer is yes.