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Category: Mike Napoli

Angels make a big move in getting Vernon Wells for Napoli, Rivera

Vernonwells_300 An Angels club that has been criticized all winter for its inactivity got busy in a big way Friday, acquiring All-Star outfielder Vernon Wells from the Toronto Blue Jays for catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera.

The trade was officially announced by the Angels early Friday evening, and Wells, who waived his no-trade clause so the deal could be consummated, General Manager Tony Reagins and Manager Mike Scioscia will adress the media in a conference call at 7:30 p.m.

Wells, 32, had a bounce-back 2010 for Toronto, hitting .273 with 31 home runs, 44 doubles and 88 runs batted in after averaging 17 homers and 74 RBIs for three subpar and injury-marred seasons from 2007-2009.

But he comes at a steep price; Wells is entering the fourth year of a heavily back-loaded, seven-year, $126-million contract that paid him $40 million for the first three years and pays him $86 million over the next four seasons, $23 million in 2011 and $21 million in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

A hefty chunk of Wells’ 2011 salary will be offset by the salaries heading to Toronto; Rivera will make $5.25 million next season and Napoli, who exchanged arbitration figures with the Angels on Tuesday, will make at least $5.3 million.

There was an Internet report Friday afternoon that the Angels would receive cash from the Blue Jays in the deal, but there is no mention of cash being exchanged in the releases issued by both teams on the trade.

The  Blue Jays made the deal in an effort to dump Wells’ contract in order to free up money to sign slugger Jose Bautista to a multi-year deal.

But the addition of Wells, a three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award winner, will likely push the Angels’ payroll next season to the $145-million range.

Wells, who will be the highest-paid player in Angels history, is primarily a center fielder who can also play right, a skill set that matches that of Torii Hunter, who moved from center field to right last August to accommodate the promotion of rookie Peter Bourjos.

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Angels send Mike Napoli to Toronto for Vernon Wells

Mike3 The Angels have reached an agreement to send catcher Mike Napoli, the team's top power hitter last season, to the Toronto Blue Jays, according to a baseball source close to Napoli.

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Angels will receive All-Star outfielder Vernon Wells in exchange while also sending outfielder Juan Rivera to Toronto. The trade is contingent on all three players passing physicals, and Wells is reportedly in Southern California where he underwent his exam Friday.

Wells, 32, hit .273 with 31 home runs and 88 RBIs last summer when he made his third All-Star team. He has a .280 lifetime average in 12 seasons in which he's averaged 26 homers and 95 RBIs.

Wells, who waived his no-trade clause to allow the trade to go forward, is scheduled to make $23 million this season and $21 million in each of the final three seasons of his contract, making him the highest-paid player in Angels history. The Blue Jays, who needed to deal Wells and his contract in order to make a run at signing Jose Bautista to a multiyear deal, will pay some of Wells' salary. The Angels also gave themselves some breathing room salarywise when they took Napoli and Rivera off the books,  moves that will save them more than $10 million

Napoli, 29, slugged a team-high 26 home runs last year, his third consecutive season with more than 20 homers. But he hit just .238 with a career-high 137 strikeouts. Something of a defensive liability behind the plate -- would-be base stealers have been successful more than three-quarters of the time against Napoli in his career -- Napoli played at first base for much of the second half of the 2010 season after Kendry Morales sustained a season-ending injury.

The trade would to send the Angels into spring training with veterans Jeff Mathis and Bobby Wilson and rookie Hank Conger as the leading candidates at catcher while the addition of Wells will help fill a gaping hole in outfield. But the deal also leaves the Angels with three outfielders in Wells, Torii Hunter and Peter Bourjos who are primarily center fielders

Napoli, who is eligible for arbitration, made $3.6 million in 2010 and asked the Angels for $6.1 million, $800,000 more than the team offered, for 2011. He can become a free agent after 2012.

Rivera, who had become the most expendable Angel in a crowded outfield, will make $5.25 million this summer in Toronto in the final year of his contract. A 10-year veteran, Rivera, 32, hit .252 with 15 homers and 52 RBIs

We'll have more on the trade soon at latimes.com/sports.

-- Kevin Baxter

Photo: Mike Napoli. Credit: Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times

Angels sit Mike Napoli, who has a sore forearm

Napoli_300 Mike Napoli was in the Angels' lineup at catcher Sunday for the first time in nearly two weeks. But just before the start of the game with the Tampa Bay Rays -- a game that ended in a 6-3 win for the Angels -- Manager Mike Scioscia scratched him, putting rookie Hank Conger behind the plate instead.

Scioscia said Napoli, who has been used mostly at first base lately, had some tightness in his right foreman that could have affected his throwing. It didn't bother his swing through; Napoli was on-deck to pinch-hit for Hideki Matsui in the ninth inning, but the inning ended before he could get into the game.

On Thursday, Scioscia pulled shortstop Erick Aybar out of the lineup with a strained muscle in his left leg. But after an MRI exam, the Angels have changed that, saying Aybar has a "possible sports hernia" that could sideline him for the rest of the season. He will be examined by a specialist in Dallas later this week.

Scioscia doesn't foresee the same kind of grim prognosis for Napoli.

"We'll see how his arm sets up," he said. "If he can get there, we'll see him behind the plate at some point before this year is out."

-- Kevin Baxter, reporting from St. Petersburg, Fla.

Photo: Mike Napoli. Credit: Mark Duncan / Associated Press

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