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Vernon Wells – The Most Overpaid Player In Baseball

Jeff Gross, Getty Images

Let’s face it – Yankee pitcher AJ Burnett stinks.  After giving up nine runs in just five innings of a 12-5 loss to Baltimore on Friday night, Burnett’s days in the Yanks’ rotation seemed to be numbered.

Not exactly what the Yankees thought when they signed Burnett to a 5-year, $82.5 million deal in 2008.

But as bad as AJ has been, he’s not the most overpaid player in baseball right now.

Not even close.

That (dis)honor belongs to LA Angels outfielder Vernon Wells.

Wells is the 2nd highest paid player in baseball.  He makes $26 million dollars – this year.  He’s making more money than Ryan Braun, Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton, Jose Bautista, Roy Halladay, Matt Kemp and Prince Fielder.

Wells is hitting .216 with 18 HRs and 49 RBI.  And he’s actually been on fire in the last two months (8 HR since July 1st).

He’s in the 4th year of his seven year, $126 million deal.  If he was a top ten outfielder, I would say his salary was pretty justified.  But he’s not. In fact, he isn’t even a top 25 outfielder in the league.

The Toronto Blue Jays signed Wells to a horrible deal.  And then they traded him to the Angels and had them pay his salary. The Jays didn’t owe him a dime.

Wells is a lifetime .275 hitter. He hasn’t had over 100 RBIs since 2006.  In fact, he hasn’t been a legit All-Star in 6 years.  It was a horrible deal that nearly killed the Blue Jays franchise. They spent so much money on this guy and had to play him.  They also needed to play him in centerfield.

So why is it Wells and not AJ Burnett?  Well, that’s the argument of an everyday player vs. a pitcher.

Mike Stobe, Getty Images

An everyday player with high expectations is far worse than a pitcher that takes the field every 5 days.  You can hide Burnett in the rotation. You can skip his starts. You can even demote him to the bullpen or leave him off the playoff roster.

But how can you hide a player in the field that makes over $25 million? He’s a centerfielder that needs to play everyday.  The Angels can’t afford to sit him. He’s single-handedly crippling a franchise.

Back in 2008, the Yankees signed a then-32-year old Burnett to a 5-year deal. He was just about a 500 pitcher when they signed him.  Right now, AJ is 9-11 with a 5.31 ERA.

It’s not good but Chicago’s Carlos Zambrano is far worse. He quit on his team and then the club suspended him.  So is San Francisco’s Barry Zito (3-4, 5.62 ERA; injuries, also left off playoff roster last year). Yankee fans are just biased about Burnett because he’s affecting their team.

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