The following is a list of cast off headlines for a blog post on the total-doability of a trade between the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim involving Barry Zito and Vernon Wells:

  • Six Of One; Half Dozen Of Another
  • It Takes Two
  • When Contracts Go Bad
  • What’s To Become Of Us
  • Mutually Assured Destruction
  • Misery Love Company
  • Shit For Shat

The mock trade game is tired, completely unrealistic and rarely more than the delusions of some fan boy with far too much time on his hands. With that said, or more accurately written, once in a while a transaction idea comes along that’s simply too good to pass up. If this idea happens to coincide with the Spring Training equivalent to the dog days of summer, then it becomes an idea worth exploring because basically there’s a whole lot better to write about.

And so, without further ado, be it resolved, the San Francisco Giants should trade Barry Zito to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for Vernon Wells.

Where They Stand

If the Angels are honest with themselves, Vernon Wells is a platoon corner outfielder at this stage in his career. If the Angels are even more honest with themselves, he’s probably the fourth or fifth best outfield option on the team, ranking at or near the bottom of this list: Peter Bourjous, Torii Hunter, top rated prospect Mike Trout and maybe even Mark Trumbo, who is likely a better option in left field than at third base.

Despite likely being worth a win or two more over the course of the season, Trout was sent down to Triple A, so that Wells can remain the team’s starter. Wells was a disasterpiece last season, flirting with an insanely unseemly record well into August, thanks in large part to being the worst regular in all of baseball against right handed pitching. While UZR credits Wells with a successful year in left field, DRS suggests that the former center fielder cost his team eight runs patrolling his new corner.

Put simply, the 33 year old isn’t the player he was once imagined to be.

Meanwhile, further North in the great state of California, Barry Zito has become a redundant part of the San Francisco Giants rotation. Over the course of his time by The Bay, a healthy Zito has been able to go in and perform the slightly underrated task of eating innings while collecting the toll of a pitcher who doesn’t just eat, but devours innings, bats and hitters for breakfast.

With Ryan Vogelsong’s emergence last season, and a trip to the Disabled List for the first time in his career, Zito’s place in the rotation slipped further back to a place where his contributions can now be matched by another left handed pitcher in Eric Surkamp, or even career revival hopefuls Brian Burres or Yusmeiro Petit.

Much like Wells in Anaheim, a combination of declining skills and team depth at his position has served to increase the redundancy of Barry Zito in San Francisco.

The Answering Of Needs

As it stands, the Angels have to decide between Jerome Williams or Garrett Richards to be their fifth starter. Williams has started six Major League games in the last four years, while Richards has seven career starts. Neither is exactly causing Angels fans fits of anticipation.

Say whatever you want about Zito, but the left hander, outside of last year’s injury, has shown an ability to eat innings. Before last season, Zito had ten straight years with at least 180 innings pitched. There’s value in a fifth starter being able to do that, not just in terms of saving the bullpen from overwork, but also in keeping even worse pitchers off the roster.

In San Francisco, a true platoon between Nate Schierholtz and Vernon Wells would yield a fairly fantastic batter. While that means the majority of plate appearances going to Schierholtz, Wells would become a right handed bat off the bench on most nights, an area of need for the Giants.

Financial Considerations

What makes this proposed deal so much fun to consider is that both players signed outrageous seven year contracts worth $126 million that became almost immediately regrettable.

Because of signing his deal a year later than Zito, Wells . . .

. . . are you sitting down? . . .

. . . is still owed $63 million for the next three seasons. $63 million! And let’s remember that this contract was traded for by former Angels GM Tony Reagins. He sought out this player under those terms.

Meanwhile for Zito, there is no way that any team would be willing to pick up his club option for $18 million in 2014, meaning that they’ll have to pay him his $7 million buyout on top of the $39 million he’s owed for 2012 and 2013.

With Wells owed $17 million more and Zito having one year less remaining on his contract, there would have to be some financial considerations passed on in the deal.  If you assume that an extra year of Wells as a platoon/bench player is worth one win above replacement, the Giants could realistically only ask for something in the neighbourhood of $3.5 million of the $8.5 million it would take for the Angels to even up the expense.

Potential Roadblocks

Of course, all these financial considerations are for naught, because like the best mock trades, this one is completely unrealistic.

Both players have full no trade clauses, and aren’t likely too eager for a change of scenery. Put frankly, the American League West has better hitters than the National League West, and Barry Zito isn’t likely to have a much better time of things pitching in Anaheim than pitching in San Francisco. Meanwhile, as his defense declines, Wells can still hope to be a contributing member of an American League club filling in as a designated hitter as his body breaks down.


Unfortunately, in this case, calling the proposed deal mutually beneficial refers only to the two teams and not the minds of the two players that would be involved. There’s no way this trade happens anywhere outside of video games, fantasy leagues and simulations.