The Dip: “Project Wells”: Lunacy or Visionary?

Posted by The Dipsy, Fri, July 17, 2009 03:00 PM | Comments: 64
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“If you will it, it is no dream”
- Theodor Herzl

In every tap room, at every water cooler and on every radio show, it seems the Delaware Valley is concocting ways to to get Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays in time to win another World Series. While every manner and combination of minor league prospects going to Toronto in exchange for Halladay has been discussed, perhaps the real key to the Blue Jays heart resides not in Lehigh Valley or Reading but in the sizable depths of the Phillies wallets.

I say here that Blue Jays General Manager J.P. Ricciardi, has bigger fish to fry than getting maximum value in return for his pitching superstar, and that is to rid Toronto’s payroll of Vernon Wells’ salary. In fact, this initiative has become so important that is referred to by the Toronto brass and other Jays’ insiders as simply: “Project Wells.”

In December 2006, Vernon Wells signed a seven-year, $123 million dollar extension to stay with the Blue Jays through 2014. A fan favorite and staple of the Jays’ lineup at the time, his contract now calls for him to be paid as follows: 2008:$0.5M, 2009:$1.5M, 2010:$12.5M, 2011:$23M, 2012:$21M, 2013:$21M, 2014:$21M with a no-trade clause and player opt-out in 2011 (insert laugh track here). And, as you may have guessed, during the life of this extension his productivity has decreased as his salary has risen. Dramatically. In short, Wells has officially achieved “toxic asset” status and must be moved, somehow, someway, if Ricciardi has any hopes of keeping his job. He knows it and now we know it. I think the most effective way for the Phils to land Halladay, for now and for the future, would be to take Wells off the Jays’ hands at the same time.

Here’s how it would work. The Phillies would offer a package of prospects like Lou Marson and Jason Donald (Why are their names always mentioned in the same breath?) and a Carlos Carrasco or a Andrew Carpenter. In exchange we would take Halladay and Wells with Toronto paying half of his salary. If I’m doing my math right, that saves the Blue Jays, with Halladay’s 2010 salary factored, right around $65M over the next five years. Therein lies the true motivation for the Blue Jays. While making a deal like this does not give them maximum return on Halladay, it would go a long way toward digging themselves out of the payroll hell in which Ricciardi single-handedly put them. Quite simply, I think it’s more important to Toronto to free up that money than hold out and squeeze the last ounce of value for Halladay in a separate deal.

The Phils would do it because they would have a deal in place to move Wells to a team that needs a good outfielder and will pay $5-6M a year for him. That means the Phils would have to eat $20-$25 million worth of Wells’ contract through 2014, but they would also keep their prized farm system intact. In short, the Phils need not choose between the present and the future. They can buy both of them.

Creative? Unorthodox? Just plain crazy? Don’t tell me deals like this have never been done (Mike Hampton). Don’t tell me no one would want Wells at $5M or $6M. Don’t tell me the Phils don’t have the money, because they are making it hand over fist, and that’s a fact. It all seems so easy as I sit in my armchair and write this up … and it may not be. But tell me, why is it so hard?

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About The Dipsy

The Dipsy has written 29 articles on Phillies Nation.

  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    Amanda, when your done sniffing that glue pass it on. Its been a long day. The Phillies would never do that. From what I have heard is that the bluejays dont even like these prosepects. Only we and the Phillies love them. He will go to the Yankees or Boston. The yankees will take wells off of there hands.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    The Dipsy wrote this, not Amanda

    Dipsy: are you CRAZY?! What a terrible way to think through this whole Halladay thing! Enough with the obsession over one guy that plays once every 5 days!!

    And Carrasco and Carpenter aren’t the same type of prospects. Carrasco was the starter for last year’s Futures game!!

  • Posts: 0 Caleb

    Why does everyone think the jays are excited to trade within their division?

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Creative but respectfully ‘plain crazy’. If Toronto was going to eat half of Wells salary they would be asking for something of value in return added to a big haul for Halladay. The Hampton deal was about shifting contracts around and all teams involved ate a lot of money for nothing.

    If they were to do this they get none of the top prospects when their coveting multiples, they get nothing for Wells and eat half the salary they would have had to in a separate deal.

    Again it’s nice creative thinking but its trying to get water from a stone. It wouldn’t be in Toronto’s advantage to make that kind of deal, for them it’s going the long way round to end up with less.

    No team is going to throw a lot money away to save a couple of prospects just to get a deal done. Roy Halladay isn’t worth $47m for a year and a half’s work which is what it comes down to, no-one is.

  • Posts: 0 Bay Slugga

    Sorry but you are crazy. The Phillies would never make this deal in one million years, probably more.

    Sounds great on paper, but a ridiculous deal like this would never happen in the next 15ish days.

  • Posts: 0 King

    30 Million will become available after this season. So that just adds to the point that money will not be an issue.

    Still, this isn’t a mid-season kind of deal. Maybe in the off-season this would work better.

  • Posts: 0 Brett

    I don’t think you’re crazy, Dipsy.

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Yeah but the Phils nor anyone is going to throw away $25m just to get a year and change out of someone you still have to pay approximately $23m to. If Halladay were locked into a long-term cost affective deal it would make a lot of sense to get a deal done but it doesn’t.

    Plain and simple its paying something like $48m for a year and a change of one player.

  • Posts: 0 joedad

    Nobody knows how much money the Phils make other than the partners, finance staff and maybe a bank or 2. They sell out every game and that means more revenue but their expenses increased year on year. They almost sold out every game last year too so they MAY make less money this year, bottom line, than last year since expenses increased. So before you spend their money on a pile of crap like Wells and pay the best pitcher in baseball, you may want to ask them if they can afford it.

    Anyway, decent idea, but they could just wait another year and a half and give that money to Halladay if they want.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck P

    She’s not saying that the Blue Jays are going to eat half of that salary… I think that she’s saying that the Phillies would eat $20-25 per year.

    From a business standpoint: that’s a lot of coin to eat for a long time… right now we might be able to afford it but who knows what this team looks like in five years.

    Wells is not a terrible player and someone would take him for $5-6 million but agreeing to eat $20 million for each of the next 5 years is crazy.

  • Posts: 0 Jon Roth

    Why do we allow this Dipsy to write on here. This is the second piece that they wrote that makes no sense. Please get rid of the Dipsy on Phillies nation.

  • Posts: 0 Chris L

    As I said yesterday, I would not be surprised if this type of deal would occur for exactly the reasons that Dipsy mentioned. However, if the Jays eat half the salry of Wells they’ll get quite a bit more than was mentioned in terms of players. More likely, the Jays only eat about 10-15 million and get 3 high prospects and 1 major league utility player or lower prospect with high upside.

    Also, the second trade that sends Wells elsewhere (the most likely place metioned yesterday was SF with the Yankees and their soon empty OF a distant 2nd) would include players too and maybe one (AAA position player) of those would go to the Jays and the other (high A pitcher) to the Phils. Once again the quality of prospect would be determined by who’s playing what.

    But King is right, much more likely to be an offseason deal. And in all reality, the Phils #1 goal right now is not to get Roy but to make sure he does not go to StL or LAwhich would suddenly make a return to the WS a lot tougher. They should stall until after the season then get something done in the winter. Which would also allow for the customary 72 hour extension window.

  • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    It nauseates me when I see that Vernon Wells makes more over the last 4 years of his contract, he will make the same amount as Chase Utley did in his 7 year deal. How and why does this happen in baseball, its absurd. Ricciardi should be fired before he can make any trade again.

  • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    And that first sentence made no sense.

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    The extension window is only a remote possibility, Toronto have shown the opposite of being willing and Halladay’s camp wants to test the market.

    If Toronto are willing to eat salary for Wells pure and simple they’ll come out way ahead making the deals separately. It makes little sense for the Jays and little sense for the Phils to throw money and a lot of it away.

  • Posts: 0 Kennedy

    This deal wouldn’t make any sense, really for either side. Wells has 107 Million dollars left on his contract. Lets assume the Jays agreed to eat half that. This is a big assumption, because I’d bet they’d rather wait for Wells to get good than get rid of him now and write off 53 million.

    That means we get Wells for 5.5 years at 54 Million, plus Halladay for 1.5 years at 23 Million. Lets assume that Halladay has a value of 25 Million per year. This is 2 Million more than CC Sabathia the highest paid pitcher in Baseball, but Halladay is really really good. Of the 77 Million we would take on in obligations, that removes 37 million dollars. OK so Halladay out of the equation, we have Vernon Wells at 5.5 years for 40 million. Now look at what OF free agents got last winter.

    Adam Dunn had an OPS over the last 3 years of about .900, very good. He had hit 40 HRs for five consecutive seasons. He got 2 yrs 20 million. Bobby Abreu has a career OPS of .900. It had declined somewhat, but was still .840 last year, with 20 HRs. He got 1 yr, 5 million, and sat on the market forever.

    Vernon Wells has a career OPS of about .800, and is probably good for about 15 HRS per season. I’d say if he were a Free Agent, and insisted on a 5.5 year contract, he’d get 12 million, 15 tops. As it is, with teams knowing the Phils don’t want him, and the recession, we could probably find someone to take on 10-12 Million of his salary. That would mean, in trading him, the Phillies would have to write off minimum 25-30 Million dollars by trading Wells. That would mean, true cost of Halladay for 1.5 years, in Dipsy’s scheme: $48,000,000 – $53,000,000. Even the Yankees would hesitate on that (even Clemens in his biggest hired gun year only got $28,000,000).

    To ask the Phillies to give up prospects in that deal, that’s absurd. The deal might make some sense if we needed an OF, as we could afford to hold Wells in the hope he turns it around. We had 3 in the all star game, and 2 in the minors who could hit MLB within 2 years.

    Steinbrenner on Crack, Acid, Meth, and drunk off his ass, would not give up Marson + Donald + Carrasco just to pay Halladay $50,000,000.00 for 1.5 yrs.

  • Posts: 0 JeffS

    The value of the prospects is the “prospect” of putting good players on the field for $400K per year for a couple years, therefore freeing up $$ to retain the core players or players that must be re-signed.

    The idea of tens of millions for the Wells contract defeats half the purpose of the farm.

  • Posts: 0 Maverick

    This is out of the box thinking and i like it.. dont necessarily agree but if i did it would probably make for boring discussions.

  • Posts: 0 Kennedy

    Its actually exactly what I would try to do if I were the Jays, but only the Yankees have the kind of financial firepower to get this done. They know they’re the only ones with that much money, so they wouldn’t offer significant prospects. They probly would let the Jays off the hook with less of Well’s salary than 50% though.

  • Posts: 0 Andy

    It would make more sense if the Phils offered something like:

    Werth, Happ, Carrasco & Donald for Halliday & Rios.

    Toronto would rid themselves of 2 big contracts and get 2/3 ML ready players in return at MUCH less the cost.

    Philly would get a good RF and a great RHP.

    Wells’ contract is the biggest white elephant I’ve ever seen. OMG

  • Posts: 0 Chris L

    NJ – who’s going to take Wells by himself? The main reason that the Phils or any other team would consider Wells is to get Roy.

    Kennedy – that’s why the third team and how much they pay and give up would be the great question. If SF reaches the playoffs but loses in the first round because they scored 5 runs over 4 games don’t you think they press a little to get some offense would the thought that:
    1. the playoffs bring them more money to spend
    2. a scenary change for Wells brings back some of his production
    3. The have some potential RH power to bat behind Sandoval

    When you start getting into particulars this is why this type of deal would only have a chance to be worked out in the offseason. Plus the team who takes Wells might also get someone else from the Phils to free up some more cash for the Phils (not sure who but Werth – completely the SF OF – and Moyer – replace Johnson’s vet leadership for the young staff – contracts fit best but not necessarily their positions).

    This is not a perfect situation for any team involved but that contract of Wells is an alblatross and Roy may be Toronto’s only chance to move it. For the Phils or anyone who is close, the championship windows aren’t always long so creativity and hope that a player just needs a new home can go a long way to get things done.

  • Posts: 0 Kennedy

    No, Andy, that is almost as dumb. Rios has 63 million due for 6.5 years, which is at least double his worth. Werth is way better. The rights to Happ alone are worth almost 30 million. I don’t want to do the math, but this is an even worse idea for the Phils.

    Everyone is missing the obvious that Wells and Rios have a full no trade clause, and aren’t likely to sign onto a trade that would leave them as permanent trade bait on their new team. Wells would rather screw Toronto then get traded twice in one season.

  • Posts: 0 Rich

    I like where you are going Dipsy, but 1.) We’re not going to trade Marson, and 2.) We’re not going to take Wells on. However, I think you are right, this may be a multi-team deal, which would probably work better for us keeping some prospects. I agree though, and in New York, the talk radio circuit is talking about the Blue Jays as needing to cut salary more so than get much.

  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    NO, NO, NO on Wells. OK back to Halladay.

    Earlier talk was Dravek, Knapp, Taylor and Marson. An awful lot to give up. Why not go for it if Toronto throws in Bautista? Still a lot to give up, but we have Bautista(whose hitting .316 vs Lefties) coming off the bench instead of Brunlett. I would even spot start him againt Lefties were Feliz has been down right awful.


  • Posts: 0 Aaron

    Lets be honest here. Would anyone trade Halladay for “Lou Marson and Jason Donald and a Carlos Carrasco or a Andrew Carpenter”??
    The answer is no. In order for the Phils to stand a “phightin” chance they will need to let go of one or two of these so called untouchables. It will probably take about 4-5 players to get him.
    The Phils dont need a player like Wells on the team, he is a bum.

  • Posts: 0 Kennedy

    Chris L:

    The Giants have Zito’s contract to remind them how overspending on long term deals can hurt teams. The contract might be for 5.5 years, but that doesn’t mean Wells will still be able to run by the end. Nobody is going to commit 20 million dollars to Vernon Wells.

  • Posts: 0 Paul

    This deal would NEVER happen. The Jays are going to have to bite the bullet, and stick with Wells, nobody is going to take on that albatross of a contact.

  • Posts: 0 Whack8888

    I like the idea behind this deal a lot — it is very creative and almost works. But quite frankly, as a lot of the others here have commented, Wells is simply undealable. His contract is so insane, that the Jays would really have to give him away with Halladay (I mean literally, for nothing) for it to make sense for any other team to take it on. Well, maybe give him and Rios away for nothing, but you get my point.

    As a side note, Wells plays outfield right? The phillies have 3 OF who are better than him, that also hinders the deal. If they had a scrub at outfield, who Wells could improve upon (though at a terrible price) the deal might work out. Wells is actually a good player at like 2-3 million a year.

    Basically, Toronto is absolutely screwed with the Wells contract – I am not sure how anyone could have made that. Haha, MLB should just have an idiot patrol protecting the league from these kinds of contracts.

  • Posts: 0 Kennedy

    And I don’t think Wells is really significantly better than who the Giants have in the OF right now. Better yes, but not 20 million dollars better. Yea, Fred Lewis blows, but he’s only got 1 year service time. Winn is gone next year, but is Vernon Wells any kind of an improvement over him? No, and it locks up the Giants in outfield for too long, its easy to find FA outfielders, and they are easier to draft.

    That’s why its so funny Ricardi commited all that money to Wells and Rios. There are way too many OFs playing at their level.

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Creatively it still comes down to paying Halladay approximately $48m. Why would a team prefer to throw away an extra $30m to get a guy for a short time than give up its prospects? That’s not pocket change…

    A third team isn’t going to take on Wells AND additional players earning free agent money. The Giants aren’t taking on Moyer under any circumstances especially since Johnson was singed to a 2 year deal and the Phils aren’t going to give away Werth.

    Your going the long-way round into a mess pure and simple. There is no upside to this deal because it’s pissing money away period.

    If the Jays want rid of Wells and are prepared to eat some salary they have just as much ability to make a deal on their own than adding a 3rd wheel.

    Not to mention the fact that every source kicking the tyres of this as an idea has come out and said Wells isn’t going to be attached to a Halladay deal.

  • Posts: 0 Rich


    The Blue Jays won’t get a Drabek like talent from anyone now. Everyone knows they have interest in moving him at this point, and the other teams in question don’t have as much to offer. It will take four prospects, at least one to two will be very painful, but we may hold the big 3 we want to be “untouchable.”

  • Posts: 0 Disulfide

    I see the point about taking on Wells with the bonus of Halladay, especially when you have to give up a lesser amount in quality prospects. But realistically speaking, it ain’t gonna happen.

  • Posts: 0 Whack8888

    I am sure this doesnt need to be said and adds no value to the conversation but,

    Damn, just look at that horrific contract! Anyone know if this is the worst contract ever made in baseball?

    Oh wait though, A Rod might top this, but at least there was potential there.

  • Posts: 0 Kennedy

    I think they could get Drabek, but not Drabek and Taylor. I like Taylor’s bat and Drabek’s arm. Maybe Drabek + Marson (replaceable in my opinion) + Donald (utility player). Drabek and Marson are both good, but Marson is replaceable. Drabek isn’t, but you have to figure we could resign Halladay at some point. Mets are in a financial crisis, Yankees have CC and Burnett signed long term and like their young guns. Sox have Lester locked and will resign Beckett. After them, we have as much financial power as anyone, and Myers’ expiring deal to provide wiggle room. Plus Halladay strikes me as the kind of guy who would resign in Philly.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    But youre gonna get stuck with Wells on your roster because you wont be able to flip him. No, no, no.

  • Posts: 0 Kennedy

    This is easily worse than A-Rod contract wise, A-Rod is an all time great and plays a premium position with a great glove. Wells is a CF who is gradually getting slower and hitting at league average rates.

  • Posts: 0 Chris L

    Kennedy – Iforgot about Zitos contract and thought Johnson’s was 1 yr with an option so they could get rid of him if they had someone else

    NJ – a 3rd team like the Phils to take bite out of the contract of Wells is needed it’s too much money for 1 club to eat even half

    Like I said, not sure if this will happen but I think this type of creativity to give Toronto financial freedom is very likely this offseason. But not sure which teams and which players will be involved but dont expect Roy’s deal to be a simple 4 for 1 trade unless there some big prospects involved

  • Posts: 0 Kennedy

    Here is an important thought:

    Nobody is going to pay Halladay $50,000,000.00 and prospects for 1.5 years when Sheets is going to be available at some point. Would you rather pay $15,000,000.00 for 1.5 yrs of Sheets or $50,000,000.00 and prospects for Halladay.

    And I’m getting my $50,000,000.00 from my calculations above.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    “Halladay strikes me as the kind of guy that would resign in Philly”…….Kennedy, why would Roy Halladay agree to that? Most likely, to sign him long-term, it’s going to require about $100 mil for 4 years. The Phillies would never do that and I don’t think they should. It makes no financial sense.

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Dear Amanda – Wells gets an 8.5m bonus in March 2010, effectively making the Jays total financial obligation to him at 21m for next year. Thanks.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 Ryan Hoffman

    This is possible, but you have to keep in mind that there is at least somewhat approximate value we can assign to these guys.
    So lets analyze it down to a couple steps.
    Roy Halladay is worth about $60 million over the next 1 1/2 seasons. He will be getting roughly $23 million in his contract and the two draft picks you get from his Type A status is about 7 million., so its down to approx. $30 mil. in excess value.

    Now lets say we’re putting Wells into the mix. Wells was worth about $5.5 million in 2/3 of 2008 (over a full season about $7), $3.2 in 2007, $21.4 in 06, and about $11 each season from 05-03. In 2009, he has been worth a negative 4.5 already so that hurts. Let say we can expect his offensive and defensive value increase somewhat due to CBP (like Ibanez did). A conservative estimate would be he is worth about $5 million a year over the next 5 seasons. It could be much better, or much worse. The chance that he could come back has some value, about $10 million over the course of the contract.

    So lets assume Wells is worth $35 million from 2010-2014. Excess value is up to about $65 million.
    Wells contract from 2010 is worth a grand total of $77.5 million in that time frame.
    The Jays wanna get rid of a lot of salary, but would still want some prospects back. Scouts say they are interested in a pitcher and a middle-infielder. That screams Kyle Drabek and Jason Donald.
    Drabek has absolute ace potential, so he is worth a lot. Donald could definitely be a utility infielder and given some playing time, like he got in the Olympics last year, he has shown he could have a valuable bat.
    Together those two are worth approx $25-30 million. They will make virtually nothing in the near future, so their contracts are mute.

    Okay so Halladay (and his Type A Status) with Wells is worth about $60 million.
    6 years of Drabek and Donald worth about $30 mil in value. So if the Phils would be willing to pay about $30 million of the $77.5 left, it would be worth it.

    My guess is Toronto would want those two and about $45 in salary relief. The Phillies on the other hand currently have an ALL-Star outfield (literally) so Wells doesn’t have a position. Maybe if a third team in need of an OF for the next few years came in to offer some prospects or salary relief, this can probably get done. I just don’t think it will.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    2 World Series Championships in the HISTORY of this franchise…

    lets go get the proven difference maker, and add to that total..

    I’ve said a few teams over the past few days.. this is the best, most talented Phillies team.. probably in the history of the franchise.. with a chance to ADD the best Starting Pitcher in baseball ….WITHOUT HAVING TO SUBTRACT ANYTHING FROM OUR CURRENT ROSTER..

    Ruben Amaro, If you’re reading this.. make it happen.. let’s win some more Championships while this core group is intact!!!

    Don M

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    So…….after all the yelling dies down….would you be willing pay 5m a year for 5 years and give up three fringe prospects for the rights to Roy Halladay and the ability to keep Drabek, Happ, Taylor, Brown, Knapp, et als. ?

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 Brett


  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    Seems way too good to be true and here’s why.

    Phils trade Marson, Donald and Carasco for the following:

    25 million over 5 years.
    Halladay for 1.5 years.
    two high draft choices when we lose Halladay.
    Propsects in return for Wells

    If this could be worked out it’s a no brainer, but there has to be a deal to move Wells before we acquite him.

  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    oops, Phils trade Marson, Donald, Carasco and 25 mil over 5 years. We get more prospects in return although maybe not as good.

  • Posts: 0 Whack8888

    I dont see how you can get Wells down to 5 million a year though — that means 15+ has to be taken off for each of those years which adds up to 75 million. Who pays that, if the Phillies only pay 5 million for 5 years?

    I think maybe the best situation would be the Blue Jays pay 15-25 million of the salary, get 1 A, B C prospect or 2 Bs (whatever correlates to not really a lot but a decent amount of prospects), trade Halladay to the Phils, Wells to Team X, and the Phills pay ??

    Hehe, see this is where the deal breaks down. If the Jays take on 25 million of Wells contract, that means they are going to want a lot more prospects for Halladay then the Phillies want to give them, considering the Phillies have to still pay 50 million in order for Team X to get Wells for 5 million a year.

    Maybe if you could convince Team X to take Wells for 8 million a year, the Jays could do 15 million and the Phils could do 35 and give up 2 Bs, but who wants Wells for 8 million a year?

    Also, if the Jays do some deal like above, ie, where they basically trade Halladay for low prospects and the dumping of Wells, it makes them look idiotic. I think that perhaps the GM might rather pretend everything is cool rather than officially admit too such a horrific failure.

    35 million is also still a lot of money for the Phils.

  • Posts: 0 Whack8888

    Oops, in all my hypotheticals I forgot that Team X would also have to trade some prospects etc. so maybe it could work out. Even so, who wants to give up something for 5 million a year for Wells. I imagine people would be reluctant to just have to have him for free for 5 million a year

    and that still leaves the Phillies with 50 million for Wells, without having him play at all

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Ah…..I’m glad that when people boil it all down that they realize that might be a deal worth doing for the Phils. Truth be told, though. I don’t think we’d get much of anything for Wells.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Whack – J.P. Ricciardi has bigger problems than looking stupid. He already looks stupid. I think they’re in damage control mode. When I looked at that Wells contract for the first time last night, my eyes almost popped outta my head. Did the Blue Jays think that Wells was gonna exercise his opt out? That he would retire before the obscene years kicked in? That he would somehow die before 2010 (but his estate would still get the cash, oh well).

    The Dipsy

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