TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — On his first day with the New York Yankees, Vernon Wells recalled a game in the International League more than a decade ago and he saw Darryl Strawberry in uniform for the opposition.
"I remember the first time I played the Triple-A Yankees, when I was 20 years old," he said Tuesday. "It was the first that I actually got goosebumps playing against another team. And from that day I've quietly been a Yankee fan."
Wells' trade to the Yankees was finalized Tuesday, when New York dealt a pair of minor leaguers to the Angels: outfielder Exircado Cayones and left-hander Kramer Sneed. The Angels will pay about $28.5 million of the $42 million Wells is owed over the final two seasons of his contract.
"Obviously not when we've played against them," Wells said, "but every time the Yankees were in the playoffs and I was sitting at home, I was cheering for the Yankees. Somewhat of a dream come true."
Los Angeles will pay about $28.5 million of the $42 million Wells is owed over the final two seasons of the $126 million, seven-year contract he signed with Toronto.
The Yankees will pay most of his salary this year, a move designed to help the Angels to stay under the luxury tax threshold of $178 million. Los Angeles will pay most of his salary in 2014, when the Yankees hope to get under the threshold as it rises to $189 million.
Wells was down to play left field and bat sixth for the Yankees against Houston on Tuesday night. With the Angels, he figured to be a spare part. The Los Angeles outfield is set with Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos, and the Angels have Mark Trumbo at designated hitter.
"It came as a shock," Wells said. "Once you get toward the end of spring training, you think, all right, this is how it's going to be. They called me into the office and said they have a deal in place. When they told me the team, I tried not to smile too big in the office. And I'm here."
A three-time All-Star, Wells 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.
The 21-year-old Cayones, acquired by the Yankees from Pittsburgh last year in the deal sending A.J. Burnett to the Pirates, hit .228 with 15 RBIs last year in 158 at-bats for the Class A Staten Island Yankees.
Sneed, 24, was 0-7 with a 5.37 ERA at Class A Tampa last season.