Angels acquire All-Star CF Vernon Wells from Jays

The Los Angeles Angels acquired All-Star center fielder Vernon Wells from Toronto on Friday night, giving them the big bat they wanted to add this winter.

The Blue Jays shipped their high-priced fixture to the Angels for catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera in one of baseball's biggest trades this offseason.

The teams did not say whether the Blue Jays would also send cash to the Angels to help offset Wells' contract. He has four years and $86 million left on the $126 million, seven-year deal he signed with Toronto.

That deal included a no-trade clause, which Wells waived to join the Angels.

"Vernon is a player we have admired for some time," Los Angeles general manager Tony Reagins said. "He is a tremendous person and the type of player that will impact our club immediately, both on offense and defense."

After winning three straight AL West titles and five of six, the Angels slid to 80-82 last season. They had hoped to add either outfielder Carl Crawford or third baseman Adrian Beltre this offseason, but missed out on both expensive free agents.

The 32-year-old Wells is a three-time All-Star who hit .273 with 31 home runs and 88 RBIs last season. He made his major league debut with Toronto in 1999 and quickly became one of baseball's most promising players.

Nagged by injuries, Wells dipped in 2009 before a bounce-back season. He likely will take over in center field for the Angels, who moved perennial Gold Glove winner Torii Hunter to right last season to make room for speedy Peter Bourjos.

The Angels have depth at catcher and should get slugger Kendry Morales back next season after he missed most of 2010 with a broken leg.

Toronto, out of the playoffs since winning its second straight World Series title in 1993, had been shopping Wells in an effort to free up some payroll.

The 29-year-old Napoli hit .238 with 26 homers and 68 RBIs last season, often filling in at first base for Morales.

Napoli ranked among the AL leaders with one home run per 17.4 at-bats. He has hit at least 20 homers in three straight years. He could help give Toronto time to break in rookie catcher J.P. Arencibia, the MVP of the Pacific Coast League last season.

Napoli had filed for salary arbitration, asking for $6.1 million while the Angels offered $5.3 million.

The 32-year-old Rivera hit .252 with 15 home runs and 52 RBIs last season. He is due to make $5.25 million this year.

The trade also could give Toronto financial flexibility to offer a long-term contract to major league home run champion Jose Bautista. He's also in arbitration and asked for $10.5 million, with the Blue Jays offering $7.6 million.


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