Wells plans to retire at 35 after 2014 season
Outfielder expects to finish contract, then focus on family, ownership opportunities
TEMPE, Ariz. -- When Vernon Wells' seven-year, $126 million contract comes to an end in two years, so will his baseball career. The Angels outfielder, owed $42 million over the next two seasons, plans to retire at the end of 2014, even though he'll be only 35.
He's got two good reasons: One is 10, the other is 7, and both are boys.
"My kids," Wells said Monday morning. "It'll be time to invest more in their lives. I've gone through this for long enough. My thoughts right now as a family is to be done after two years, enjoy them, get to be there for them in those years where they're going to need their dad every day, not just every now and then."
Wells still loves the game, but is eager to return to his home in Southlake, Texas, long-term so he can be a full-time father.
He also has an interesting career route he's eager to pursue: ownership.
Wells, who will end up grossing close to $150 million as a ballplayer, wants to own a Major League team someday. In fact, the plan is to partner with former Angels outfielder Torii Hunter. The two live about 45 minutes apart in Texas and both figure to retire at the same time, since Hunter's two-year, $26 million contract with the Tigers will take him up to age 39.
The plan is to start with a Minor League franchise, like Angels owner Arte Moreno did, and then get the ball rolling from there.
"It's definitely something we're interested in doing once we're both done playing," Wells said. "It's fun, man. Instead of playing fantasy GM, you're actually putting together your own team and learning what it takes to pretty much make money in an organization, especially in the Minor Leagues. Because sometimes you're only going to get 500, 600 people in a game, but you have to figure out ways to get fans in the stands. That's part of the business."
Wells studies the game from both the on-field and business perspectives. It's something that has consumed him ever since he was cast as the Blue Jays' player representative as a 23-year-old in 2002, the year Major League Baseball avoided a strike at the very last minute.
Wells respects the way George Steinbrenner built an empire in New York, but equally admires the way those in smaller markets have methodically built through their farm systems.
Someday, he hopes to follow in those footsteps.
And he plans to start in a couple years.
"It won't be easy," Wells said of retirement. "I don't think it's ever easy for somebody to say bye to something they've loved from the time that they can pick up a ball, but there's plans that I have once I'm done playing and it'll give me a chance to start pursuing them. But the most important thing is just being there with my family on a day-to-day basis. I've put them through a lot, just all the traveling and everything. That's the biggest thing."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.