Yankees work to acquire Vernon Wells from the Los Angeles Angels
New York neared an agreement with the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday to acquire the 34-year-old outfielder, who has slumped since hitting 32 homers with 106 RBIs for Toronto in 2006.
''It'd be a huge change. I don't think it's ever easy saying goodbye, but at the same time, if this were to happen, it's a good group of guys over there,'' Wells said in Tempe, Ariz. ''I'll just get to know a new family.''
A person familiar with the negotiations, speaking on condition of anonymity because talks were ongoing, said the sides were bargaining over the money that would be included in a trade. Wells is owed $42 million over the next two seasons, and the Yankees anticipated they would end up being responsible for about $12 million to $13 million of that total.
''We have discussed a deal with the Yankees,'' Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said, refusing to go into more detail because a trade had not been finalized.
Because the deal would include more than $1 million changing hands, it must first be approved by Commissioner Bud Selig.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman declined comment after New York beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-6 in 10 innings behind a pair of two-run homers by Kevin Youkilis.
Before the game, Cashman said captain Derek Jeter was likely to join Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson on the disabled list at the start of the season.
The Angels are set in the outfield with Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos, and have designated hitter Mark Trumbo available as a backup. Wells already has waived the no-trade provision in his contract to accept a potential move to New York, a second person familiar with the talks said, also on condition of anonymity.
Wells would take over in left field while Granderson is recovering from a broken right forearm and join an outfield that includes center fielder Brett Gardner and right fielder Ichiro Suzuki. Wells is owed $21 million in each of the next two seasons as part of the $126 million, seven-year contract he agreed to with Toronto in December 2006.
''Veteran leadership, a good guy,'' Youkilis said. ''He's got power. Plays the outfield real well. I've always respected Vernon as a player. It would be great.''
Wells, a three-time All-Star, hit .230 with 11 homers and 29 RBIs last year and has just 36 homers and 95 RBIs in two seasons with the Angels. He is batting .361 in spring training with four homers and 11 RBIs in 36 at-bats.
''We haven't seen him a lot the last two years just because he was hurt some,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. ''We don't see the Los Angeles Angels as much. I know when he was in our division, he was a very good player.''
Jeter, recovering from surgery to repair the left ankle he broke last October during the AL championship series, probably will miss opening day for the first time since 2001 and only the second time since he became New York's shortstop in 1996. If he goes on the DL, he could be activated as soon as April 6.
Rodriguez isn't expected back until after the All-Star break following left hip surgery on Jan. 16. Teixeira hasn't ruled out missing the first two months of the season because of a partially torn tendon sheath in his right wrist, while Granderson is expected to be out until the first week of May.
The 38-year-old Jeter, who has repeatedly vowed to be ready for opening day, played in his first big league spring training game on March 9 as a designated hitter. He returned to shortstop four days later, then played consecutive games on March 15 and 16 before inflammation kept him out of the lineup.
He received an anti-inflammatory injection Wednesday and had four at-bats as a DH on Saturday in a minor league exhibition game.
''I know Derek extremely well, and I can read his face,'' Cashman said. ''And his face today tells me that the reality of his circumstances is starting to sink in, and the disabled list might be necessary. I told him what I think, and he didn't fight me on it. That's reality.''
Eduardo Nunez, known for his bat more than his glove, would fill in at shortstop for the 13-time All-Star.
Jeter is 3 for 11 with a double in five spring training games. New York could put him on the DL backdated to Friday, meaning he could be activated on April 6, when the Yankees are at Detroit.
''It's a goal, it doesn't mean an absolute,'' Cashman said. ''We'll respond to how he's feeling. That's all we can do. At some point this will be behind him.''