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Philadelphia Phillies Cannot Afford To Overpay for Jayson Werth

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Philadelphia Phillies Cannot Afford To Overpay for Jayson Werth
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The Philadelphia Phillies have exclusive negotiating rights with impending free agent Jayson Werth until midnight of Saturday, Nov. 6. After that time, any of the other 29 clubs are free to negotiate contract terms with the coveted middle-of-the-lineup righty and utility outfielder.

The feeling in Philadelphia right now is that one of those other 29 clubs (namely the New York Yankees) will take full advantage, and Werth's run as a Phillie will end.

And for me, that would be just fine as long as the Phillies make Werth a fair offer first. But the big question is, of course, what constitutes a fair offer?

Well, my idea of fair and Werth's idea of fair isn't going to match up. He doesn't deserve what Jason Bay or Matt Holliday got but, then again, neither did they.

Werth, overall, had an average season at the plate and, if we're being honest, that's where most of the money is earned.

There's no denying Werth's talents as an outfielder. He's got a great arm, is very good at reading the ball, and is very rarely caught messing up.

But at the plate, he lacks the ability to come up big in crunch time (as evidenced by his dreadful average with runners in scoring position) and because of that flaw, he does not separate himself from a guy like Holliday.

But with all that said, he is a powerful righty and letting him walk creates an obvious void in the Phillies' lineup.

The team could fill this void with a power guy to platoon with either Raul Ibanez in left or Dominic Brown in right (such as Andruw Jones, Pat Burrell or Jeff Francoeur), but simply holding on to Werth would be much easier.

However, the $15 million per season he's looking for is simply too much. He wasn't good enough in 2010 to warrant that type of contract, and it's a deal the Phillies would regret in short order.

A guy making that type of money needs to be someone who's driving in runs on a consistent basis and not just hitting solo home runs.

Sure, those runs count as much as an RBI single, but more often than not Werth is striking out or popping out with guys on second and/or third than he is cracking a long ball with no one on.

For me, if I'm a decision-maker on the team, I'm more comfortable between $11 million and $13 million per season, but there's no way Werth and his agent, Scott Boras, accept that type of deal.

Werth was seeing dollar signs on his own, but with baseball's version of Drew Rosenhaus in his corner, he's feeling like Babe Ruth or Mickey Mantle on the open market and wants to hear a number that's going to make his eyes pop out, not a realistic number that he deserves.

Which, of course, almost assures he's going to end up overpaid in New York.

I think, for the most part, Philly is ready to see what Brown can do in right field and would not be at all disappointed to hear the Phils offered Werth a five-year, $65 million deal and he turned it down to play for the Yankees, Red Sox or another team with too much money.

That money could then go to shoring up the bullpen, maybe finding a fifth starter, getting a veteran fourth outfielder, and having some extra money in their back pocket for when Jimmy Rollins becomes a free agent after the 2011 season.

But if the Phillies fold and open up the checkbook for Werth, it won't be long before they and the entire city are wondering why a very good player is getting paid like a superstar.

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