Left-hander Matt Thornton completed his $7 million, two-year contract with the New York Yankees, who cut outfielder Vernon Wells.
Thornton gets $3.5 million in each of the next two seasons under the deal, which was agreed to Dec. 17 and announced Friday. His contract raises the Yankees' luxury tax payroll for next season to $175.7 million for 13 signed players.
Including a pending $2 million, one-year deal for second baseman Brian Roberts and an estimated $11.5 million per team for benefits, New York's tax payroll is at $189.2 million — above the $189 million tax threshold for the upcoming season.
However, Alex Rodriguez's $27.5 million luxury-tax salary would disappear if his 211-game suspension is upheld by an arbitrator.
The 37-year-old Thornton replaces Boone Logan, who left for a $16.5 million, three-year contract with Colorado. A 10-year big league veteran, Thornton was 0-4 with a 3.74 ERA in 60 relief appearances last season for the Chicago White Sox and Boston, which acquired him in July for minor league outfielder Brandon Jacobs.
Wells, who was designated for assignment, was acquired last March from the Los Angeles Angels and hit .233 with 11 homers and 50 RBIs in 424 at-bats. The 35-year-old, a three-time All-Star, became superfluous when the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran to join an outfield that already included Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki and Alfonso Soriano.
New York is responsible for just $2.4 million of Wells' $21 million salary in the final season of his $126 million, seven-year contract, with the Angels paying the Yankees $18.6 million as part of the trade last March.
A team that signs Wells would be responsible for just $500,000, the major league minimum.