Yankees decline 2004 option on LHP Wells

Updated: November 4, 2003, 6:51 PM ET

BRONX, New York - David Wells, who enjoyed two effective but occasionally turbulent tenures with the New York Yankees, was cut loose Tuesday after the American League champions declined to pick up his $6 million option for 2004.

The 40-year-old lefthander already filed provisionally for free agency and now can sign with any team, including the Yankees. He was paid $3 million last season.

New York also announced that lefthanded reliever Felix Heredia declined his $1.7 million option for 2004.

Wells has a history of back problems and his behavior off the field has irked the Yankees. He had a successful 2003 season, going 15-7 with a 4.14 ERA in 31 starts and becoming the 99th pitcher in major league history with 200 career wins.

But Wells was forced out of Game Five of the World Series after just one inning when his balky back stiffened. The Florida Marlins went on to capture their second World Series title with a 2-0 victory in Game Six at Yankee Stadium.

During spring training, Wells was fined $100,000 by the team for releasing a book in which he was critical of the organization. Is September, he filed suit against a man convicted of assaulting him in September 2002 in a Manhattan restaurant.

Wells was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays following the 1998 season in the deal that sent Roger Clemens to New York. But he rejoined the Yankees on January 10, 2001 when he signed a two-year contract.

In five seasons with New York, Wells posted a 68-28 record for a .708 winning percentage, tops among Yankees' lefthanders with at least 50 starts.

Heredia, 28, was 0-1 with a 1.20 ERA in 12 relief appearances after he was claimed off waivers from Cincinnati on August 25. He was 5-2 with a 3.00 ERA with the Reds.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index