Spring Training '07 Preview: Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays signed center fielder and franchise face Vernon Wells to a 7-year, $126 million contract this offseason, but now are in a position where they have only two weeks to move Wells' enormous contract before the 2007 season begins.
Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi was alternatingly ecstatic and anxious about the situation.
"We are absolutely thrilled to come to an agreement," Ricciardi said, "Vernon is one of the most popular players in our team's history, and also one of the best, and we could not be happier to finally have him under contract for the next seven years."
Ricciardi added, "However, our fans understand that this game is a business, and sometimes teams have to make difficult decisions that, while perhaps not popular, are for the good of the franchise. We simply cannot afford to commit such a large percentage of our payroll to one individual, even one as spectacular as Vernon."
Wells reportedly held back tears when the deal was finalized, then continued to hold them back when he learned he would be leaving Toronto, the only franchise he has played for in his eight-year career.
"To have financial security for myself and my family," choked an emotional Wells, "it's just beyond words. I understand that there is no way Toronto will be able to pay me this money, though, and while it will be difficult to leave the city and these fans who've been so supportive of me over the years, well, it's kind of bitter sweet."
Wells added, "My career is at a crossroads. A wonderful, wonderful crossroads."