The Vernon-Wells-to-the-Yankees trade includes almost everything – a big name, two big cities, millions of dollars, contractual requirements, and lineup changes. It also carries the potential to shake up some Fantasy baseball drafts, particularly in AL-only leagues.
Of course, Wells stands to see significantly more playing time in the short term. He is presumed to compete with the recently-signed Brennan Boesch in left field, joining Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki in the Yankees OF.
The Yankees now have a logjam of options at first base and designated hitter. Juan Rivera, once the presumed replacement in the Yankees outfield for Curtis Granderson, is likely to see considerable playing time; newcomer Kevin Youkilis is also an option at 1B while young speedster Eduardo Nunez occupies 3B. Travis Hafner is slated as the Yankees DH, but he is likely to yield ABs to Rivera, Boesch and Nunez at DH as the Yankees try different combinations early in the season.
Wells was part of a crowded outfield mix in Anaheim with Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos and Josh Hamilton and did not figure to be in the lineup every day.
Wells has not been drafted much this spring, with an Average Draft Position (ADP) of 498 in National Fantasy Baseball Championship leagues. As a starting outfielder for the Yankees, Wells would be selected late in most drafts. His playing time last season was limited due to a mid-season thumb injury. Overall, he hit .249 with 14 HR and 38 RBI in 289 at bats for the Angels. At age 34, he in unlikely to improve much, but a full season at full strength might make him Fantasy-relevant again.
Mark Teixeira stands to miss a significant portion of the season with a wrist injury. The club is waiting to determine if Teixeira needs surgery on his wrist, which would put him out for the season.
Nunez has become a popular sleeper pick in drafts; in National Fantasy Baseball Championship drafts he is being taken, on average, at number 364. He should be drafted much earlier because the Yankees were eager to find him playing time even before any of their spring injuries occurred.
The Wells trade, however, could have more to do with shortstop than any other position. Club management recently indicated that SS Derek Jeter may have to open the season on the disabled list after off-season surgery for a broken ankle. If the club expects him to miss a decent amount of time, the Wells trade provides more than adequate insurance. If Jeter begins the year on the disabled list Nunez would fill his position while Rivera and Youk play first and third, respectively.
Those who have drafted Jeter, Nunez, Rivera and Boesch need to stay tuned to this story, while Wells might now make a good waiver wire claim or late draft pick.