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Key To Signing Werth: Trade Ibañez, Not Howard

Avery MaehrerCorrespondent IFebruary 25, 2010

At the age of 37, Raul Ibañez put up some of the best numbers of his career, hitting .272, with 34 home runs, and 93 RBI.  

At the age of 30, Jayson Werth put up some of the best numbers of his career, hitting .268, with 36 home runs, and 99 RBI.

Ibañez is signed for two more years, Werth is signed for one.  

This leads me to my solution to the lack of payroll to sign Jayson Werth.  At seasons' end, the Phils would be wise to trade Ibañez to clear up payroll then sign Werth to a long term deal.  

If they don't believe they could win a bidding war with other teams in the offseason, the solution would be to sign Werth to an extension mid season, then trade Ibañez at seasons' end, clearing up $11.5 million in salary.

In addition to the $11.5 million being freed up, another $8 million will be cleared when Jamie Moyer's contract is up.

Most likely, with other players getting sizable raises in 2011, another trade would be necessary. Space could be cleared through several players, possibly with a Brad Lidge trade if his woes continue this year (which would clear another $11.5 million).

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In these scenarios, the Phillies get to keep all three dominant outfielders for another year, then keep the younger Werth who has much more upside for years to come.  By 2011, there will be numerous young players who could fit in nicely at one of the corners, the most obvious being Dominick Brown and John Mayberry, Jr.

Over at CrashBurn Alley, an article was posted recently with a similar solution to the Werth problem, only first baseman Ryan Howard was the target of the trade.  

While I see the upside, I still have several problems with the theoretical trade of Howard.  

For starters, Howard has been an RBI machine these past few years.  He is the main power hitter of the team, and he is one of the most clutch hitters in the postseason.  In the course of three years, he has become one of the two or three most feared sluggers in the game.

With a career average of .279, an on base percentage of .376, a slugging percentage of .586, and an average of 143 RBI per year (since 2006), Howard has had a greater impact than any other batter in the Phils' lineup.

Everyone saw what happened when Howard went cold in the 2009 World Series.  The offense shut down.  Not even Chase Utley's barrage of home runs could lift the Phils' over the Yankees without Howard's help.

Trading Howard would give the Phils some decent prospects, and maybe some impact players already in the pros.  But, Howard is only 30 years old, and in my opinion, two years of Howard is worth not receiving players who may or may not have a chance to be as influential as Howard can be in a short amount of time.

While Reuben Amaro, Jr. has to keep the future of the organization in check, he cannot make trades that could deplete the team's chances of winning in the immediate future.  The time to win is now.

Photo by Yong Kim, Courtesy of Philly.com

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