The move capped off a quiet Winter Meetings for Toronto, which claimed Wells from the Chicago Cubs with the 11th pick. It cost the Jays $50,000 to select Wells and Toronto will have to offer him back to Chicago for $25,000 if the pitcher doesn't remain on the 25-man roster all season.
"He's a guy who can do both -- start or go in the 'pen," Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said. "He gives us a little bit of depth. We'll give him a chance to come in and win a job. We've got some guys that do have options that we could send [to the Minors]."
Toronto also had its eye on Tim Lahey, who was drafted by the Rays with the first pick. Instead, the Jays went with Wells, who was Toronto's second choice, according to Ricciardi.
Wells, 25, was drafted by the Cubs in the 38th round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft and spent five seasons in the organization's farm system. In 152 career Minor League games, including 58 starts, the sinkerballer went 30-22 with a 3.73 ERA.
Last season, Wells went 5-6 with a 4.52 ERA in 40 games, including nine starts, with Triple-A Iowa. He recorded 101 strikeouts and issued 41 walks across 95 2/3 innings. Along with Josh Towers, Wells could potentially be in the running for the Jays' long-relief role.
To clear room on the 40-man roster for Wells, the Blue Jays released 28-year-old right-hander Ryan Houston, who has moved slowly up the organizational ladder over the past nine seasons. Last year, Houston -- selected in the 31st round of the 1998 First-Year Player Draft -- went 2-2 with a 4.30 ERA in 50 games with Triple-A Syracuse.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.