In a shocking move, Jayson Werth has signed a seven-year deal with the last place Washington Nationals, snubbing higher-profile teams like the Red Sox.
After losing Adam Dunn to the White Sox and star rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg to Tommy John surgery, the Nats needed a seat-filler. Attendance in DC has been pathetic over the years due to a lack of success for the team and high ticket prices.
The last two years, the Nats ranked 24th and 23rd place for attendance out of 30 teams. The acquisition of Werth should produce a spike in season ticket plans, not to mention a spike in team batting average and runs scored. The exact terms of the contract have not yet been disclosed, but it is in the area of $126 million dollars.
The real shock is that Werth chose to sign with a last-place team. The Nats are trying to build a winner, but realistically, this will not happen overnight. In fact, their biggest obstacle may be the Phillies who have won the division four-straight years now. But Werth has his ring already so maybe winning is now lower on his list than money and stability.
As for the Phillies, they now have a huge, gaping hole in right field. With Domonic Brown leaving Winter Ball early today, after feeling "tired and sluggish," big questions remain as to his ability to fill the spot.
Worst case scenario is that the left-handed Brown will have to platoon with righty Ben Francisco.
Another right-hander who may be able to platoon with Francisco or even Ross Gload is John Mayberry Jr. In 11 games with the big club in 2010, Mayberry batted .333 with two home runs and six RBI. He has been working on his stroke in AAA and, if Brown is not ready, Mayberry might be a better option.
There is a list of free agents as well that may also be able to fill the hole. The top choice for Charlie Manuel is probably Matt Diaz. The two men live in the same neighborhood and spend time together in the offseason.
Diaz is a lifetime .301 hitter who got little playing time with the Braves last season. However, Diaz did find time to tackle a rouge Phillies fan on the field back in September. He is almost a folk-hero in Philly already after that feat.
Having just missed out on a World Series title with the Rangers, Jeff Francoeur will be looking to land with a winner. At only 26 years of age, Francoeur fits well with the Phillies potential youth movement.
A five-year veteran who spent his last three years with the White Sox, Carlos Quentin is another option to replace Jayson Werth. His .243 average in 2010 was just that...average. But Quentin also hit for power with 26 homers and 87 RBI.
Scott Hairston had a very bad 2010, plagued by injuries and a lack of production. However, he would be an inexpensive spot filler and if healthy, could bounce back with a good year.
The Giants have indicated that Aaron Rowand is not in their plans going forward and may be willing to eat his huge salary just to get rid of him. Rowand struggled last year at AT&T Park. Perhaps the smaller, friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park can revive his bat.
A career .264 hitter, Willie Bloomquist has been consistent over the years. He is not a power hitter, but will steal bases and put forth a solid effort.
With a solid career average of .286, Joe Inglett may be a viable option. A late bloomer, this 32-year old did not crack the majors until 2006.
His real value may be the fact that he can play multiple positions in both the infield and outfield. This versatility makes Inglett a good fit for the Phillies.
Jose Guillen is a .270 lifetime hitter and won a World Championship with the Giants in 2010. At 34-years old, age may be a concern but Guillen is consistent at the plate and his 14 years of MLB experience would make him a solid clubhouse presence.