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Vernon Wells swaps Jays for Angels in three-man MLB trade


Toronto Blue Jays Vernon Wells rounds the bases after hitting a home run off Texas Rangers pitcher Dustin Nippert in the fifth inning of their MLB baseball game in Arlington, Texas, April 7, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Sharp
Toronto Blue Jays Vernon Wells rounds the bases after hitting a home run off Texas Rangers pitcher Dustin Nippert in the fifth inning of their MLB baseball game in Arlington, Texas, April 7, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto Blue Jays have traded three times All-Star outfielder Vernon Wells to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera, the MLB teams said on Friday.

Wells has spent his entire 14-year career with the Blue Jays who made him the fifth selection overall in the 1997 draft.

He is a lifetime .280 hitter with 223 home runs and 813 runs batted in, and he has also won three Gold Glove awards and one Silver Slugger.

Last season, Wells hit .273 with 31 home runs after slumping in 2009.

"It was an honor to play for an organization like Toronto, the way they treated my family," Wells told reporters.

"To know there's an organization in Southern California that wants me to be part of something special means so much. It's an honor to be part of the Angels family and to go into a season expecting to win."

The trade creates significant financial flexibility for the Blue Jays as Wells will earn $23-million next season, and is due $86-million over the next four seasons, while Napoli and Rivera earn near $11-million combined next season.

"The biggest component, I think it goes without saying, was the financial implications," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said on a conference call.

"Beyond 2011, the financial flexibility it gives our organization in 2012 and beyond with where we're going and as we build this organization made a lot of sense for us. At the same time we think Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera are very good players."

Napoli hit .238 last season with a career high 26 home runs and drove in 68 runs while playing first base and catcher. In five seasons in the major league, Napoli is a career .251 hitter with 92 home runs and 249 RBIs.

Rivera has posted six seasons with 10 or more home runs, including a career high 25 in 2009. He is a career .280 hitter with 112 home runs and 418 RBIs.

He has spent the last six seasons with the Angels and previously played for the New York Yankees and Montreal Expos.

(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario; Editing by John O'Brien)

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