In last week’s episode of As The Werth Turns, writers and fans were simply trying to make heads or tails out of whether or not the Philadelphia Phillies had a chance of retaining outfielder Jayson Werth. And while the saga continues to consume Philly fans, the organization continues on a slow and steady pace in their offseason wheelings and dealings.
The latest news is the signing of relief pitcher Jose Contreras to a two-year, $5.5 million contract.
This comes as a huge helping hand in the Phillies’ primary quest for quality upgrades to the bullpen, especially since the team has declined J.C. Romero’s option.
Phillies GM Rubin Amaro Jr. has already made it clear that settling the bullpen is of the utmost top priority, while supplementing that statement by also saying they haven’t closed the doors on any free agents—Jayson Werth included.
But open doors tend to let flies in or at least that’s what my mother used to yell.
The free-agency market is wide open right now, especially regarding outfielders. So the Phillies are afforded a nice stroll down Non-Tendered Way as they sip on their lattes and window shop. Players such as Magglio Ordonez, Josh Willingham, Aaron Rowand and even Carlos Quentin are all currently on display at your local MLB free agency store, so act now!
While the Phillies really don’t need to do anything out of haste, there is a growing sense of urgency as to what will be the end game.
Werth’s presence limits prospect Domonic Brown’s ability to be plugged into the starting role, but the expected heavy contract that Werth is gambling for ($120 million over six or seven years) is not something the Phillies will even remotely offer.
At best, they’ll slide a three-or four-year deal worth between $60 and 70 million across the table.
Another issue is the free agents I previously mentioned. Ordonez is like aged cheese at 36, Willingham was having a nice season in 2010 until the all-too-familiar injury bug bit him again, Rowand isn’t really an option and neither is Quentin, despite rumors of the Phillies thinking of making a run for him.
So here we are...left in the menacing grip of speculation and hope (for some).
But in my opinion, when you really gauge the free agency market, and what the Phillies still have to do in the bullpen, retaining Jayson Werth just makes perfect sense.
The almighty dollar seems to be the only real stepping stone. The Phillies know that Raul Ibanez has one more year left tops, and that’s if he even makes it through a full season.
The Phillies also know to get that true relief arm that can “seal the deal,” you have to have a hefty coin on hand. If the Phillies can come to some sort of happy median, however, you kill two birds with one stone while still saving enough to enjoy that latte and a nice morning bagel from South Street Philly Bagels (613 South 3rd Street...it’s a wonderful little place, take your kids!)
But the hitch is on Werth’s agent, Scott Boras, and Werth himself regarding their willingness to accept a three- or four-year deal if offered.
The market should rear its ugly head soon and show Werth that it isn’t what he perhaps thought it was going to be for free agents looking to score that monumental deal.
But until something comes to a head, the fans will continue to chomp at the bit, while the organization continues to take it easy.
To be honest, it will all be “Werth” it if the Phillies find a way to retain the Philadelphia mainstay while beefing up that pen.