Philadelphia Phillies: Why They Were Right Not to Re-Sign Jayson Werth
Well, the news has broken that Jayson Werth is officially a Washington National, reaching a seven year, $126 million deal.
As a Phillies fan, I was holding out hope that Werth would be in a Phillies uniform next season, but after looking at that deal, I am very happy the Phillies did not make such a drastic mistake and pay that much money for Werth.
The Nationals tied themselves down to a player who will be 38 years old when this contract expires and who has never shown he can be the star player by himself.
Good luck to Werth. I hope he does well, but I have some doubts.
Join me as I show you why not signing Werth was the best move the Phillies could have made.
Reason No. 1: Too Much Money/Too Many Years
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The Nationals drastically overpaid for Werth. Werth struggled to hit with runners in scoring position last season and actually had a poor year compared to 2008 and 2009.
He has never shown the ability to be the man in a lineup by himself, and when he is not surrounded by great hitters around him, there is no reason to believe Werth will be able to produce the numbers he did in Philadelphia. He could very possibly prove to be a product of the Philadelphia lineup and short porched stadium.
The Nationals invested in Werth for way too long. Seven years means Werth will be 38 years old in the last year of that deal. He will likely not be productive at that point.
The Phillies already locked themselves into a deal similar to Werth's with Ryan Howard, who the Phillies will be paying into his late 30s already. You don't want too many players signed late into the 30s, so I think the Phillies made the right move here.
Reason No. 2. Meet Raul Ibanez
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The Phillies already made a mistake by throwing a lot of money at an aging OF. His name is Raul Ibanez, who made almost a million dollars per home run last season. The Phillies still owe him over $10 million for 2010, when Ibanez will turn 38 years old.
Overpaying for past-their-prime players is not good business.
While Werth is in his prime now, he won't be halfway through that deal, and the Nationals will be on the hook for a lot of money for an aging player. The Phillies were right to offer no more than four years to Werth.
Reason No. 3: Phillies Have Younger, Talented Replacements Like Ben Francisco
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Ben Francisco, along with the guy in slide four, can replace Werth.
Francisco, if given every day at-bats, could hit 15-20 HRs or more in the Phillies' park. As a right-handed bat, Francisco might get a chance to shine, and honestly, I don't think the fall off from Werth to Francisco is worth $126 million dollars.
I hope the Phillies give Ben a chance to play every day.
Francisco will make $2-3 million most likely, is younger, and has similar tools to Werth. He could very well be a late bloomer.
I am excited to see what he can do with more at-bats.
Reason No. 4: Frees Up Time for Dom Brown
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If the Phillies re-signed Werth, they would have had no room for Brown again next season. Brown proved he was MLB-ready last season, and he should be playing a lot more this season.
However, with Ibanez's terrible contract and Victorino in center, if Werth was in right, Brown would have been the odd man out again. Now you can platoon Francisco and Brown in right field and use Francisco in left field at times as well.
Brown will get many more at bats now that Werth is gone, and again, is much younger and more affordable.
Reason No. 5: Phillies Have More Money for Bullpen and Other Needs
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Whether it is Matt Diaz or another hitter, the Phillies will sign a veteran right-handed hitter and very well may platoon Francisco with Ibanez and Brown and also have a veteran like Francouer or Diaz to play left or right when teams throw tough lefties up there.
On top of that, not having Werth frees up money for the bullpen or to re-sign key players for years to come. Some players were going to be moved, and honestly, Werth is not a bad choice because of the Phillies' depth in the outfield and the available talent.
Plus, the money they will save from Werth and then Ibanez's deal next year will free up money to re-sign Roy Oswalt—if the Phillies want—and Jimmy Rollins or to go after a marque player next season.
Reason No. 6: Phillies Get Compensation
The Phillies offered Werth aribtration, which means they will receive a draft pick for losing him.
While it does not sound like much, if you add in that they gain payroll flexibility to make a move at the trade deadline if they want to, and they will get a young player for the farm system, it does not sound nearly as bad.
So Werth did not walk away for nothing; the Phillies were smart to offer arbitration to ensure they got something. It wasn't much, but it's better than nothing.
Final Reason: We Need J-Roll, Pitching and More!
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Even without Werth, we have a formidable lineup with Utley, Howard, Victorino, Rollins and Brown/Francisco, plus Polanco and Ruiz. Our lineup will still be among the best in the National League.
If the Phillies signed Werth for big money, that likely meant Jimmy Rollins was gone after next season, when he became a free agent. That would have made me very sad, as Rollins is a fan favorite and the Phillies version of Jeter.
Rollins provides leadership and spark to the Phillies lineup, and even though he had a down year in 2010, I don't think many people want J-Roll in another uniform in 2012. Rollins won't demand nearly as much money as Werth, barring a huge 2011 from Jimmy, but now we have money to sign him and still be competitive in free agency.
Overall, I wish Werth well in Washington, but the Nationals significantly overpaid. I wanted Werth back, but I am still excited for the Phillies next season, and I ultimately think long-term, it was a great thing we did not commit seven years to Werth, or even five or six years.
Jayson got the money he wanted and needed to earn since he has not had a big payday, and the Phillies got salary relief and money to go after bullpen help—and next offseason, they will need starting pitching, so now they have the money to do that.
The Phillies will still be a good team for the next several seasons if they are smart with their money; this was a smart move.