It would probably be fair to classify the 2010 season as the beginning of a transitional period in the history of the Phillies.

One piece has already been addressed, with Ruben Amaro having traded for and signed a legitimately elite starter for the next four seasons. Another, slightly less important cog has been WD-40ed, with Placido Polanco replacing Pedro Feliz for the next three seasons. What looms in the future are more pivotal decisions that, if correctly addressed, will keep the Phillies among the National League’s elite teams for years to come.

The first such decision involves Jayson Werth’s future in South Philly. Werth, who will turn 31 in May, had a career year in 2009. Career highs in home runs, RBI, hits, doubles, walks and OPS+ shoved him through the veil of unknown and underrated players into the spotlight (that powerful playoff run he had sure didn’t hurt, either).

Jayson Werth enjoyed a career year in 2009

But Werth is no lock to continue improving. Wrist and durability issues limited his playing time in Los Angeles and Toronto, and actually cost him his entire 2006; his age 27 season. The Phillies picked him up on a light and airy $850k contract, and Werth has been paying dividends ever since.

Financially, Werth has been a tremendous bargain. Not including undisclosed performance bonuses, Werth has earned $4.55M in three seasons in Philadelphia and is set to make $7M in 2010, nearly doubling his previous earnings.

Think about what that four-and-a-half million has given the Phillies:

  • A .276/.376/.494 slash line
  • 68 home runs
  • 128 extra-base hits
  • 47 stolen bases in just 52 attempts
  • Excellent RF defense in 2007 and 2008, albeit with a significant drop in 2009

Clearly, the man has outperformed the money he has been paid, and I don’t think anyone disagrees with that. The conundrum facing the Phillies front office lies in whether they believe Werth is valuable enough to retain at a more premium price. Michael Taylor is no longer waiting in the wings. Domonic Brown is at least another full season away. No other outfield prospect worth getting too excited about is even all that close to the Majors.

After the expiration of his current contract following this season, Werth will find himself amid a crop of outfield free agents highlighted by Carl Crawford and Not Really Anybody Else. He will be considered the second-best outfielder out there, and will get quite a bit of money.

The question, then, is this: with Werth’s durability issues as close to the front of your mind as his performance in 2008 and 2009, do you find room in the payroll to give him an extension? Red flags about future costs have already been raised with the necessity to dump Cliff Lee – and perhaps Joe Blanton – during this offseason. Can a significant raise for Werth be afforded?

This is what’s set to happen to the payroll following the 2010 season, assuming no current arbitration-eligible player gets a multi-year deal (which they were very well may, this is just for illustrative purposes):

  • Ryan Howard will get a $1M raise, from $19M to $20M
  • Roy Halladay will get a $4.25M raise, from $15.75M to $20M
  • Cole Hamels will get a $3.25M raise, from $6.65M to $9.5M
  • Placido Polanco will get a $250k raise, from $5.167M to $5.417M
  • Brian Schneider will get a $500k raise, from $1.125M to $1.625M
  • Ross Gload will get a $600K raise, from $1M to $1.6M

So that accounts for about $9.85M in raises, not including bonuses. As for money coming off the books, this is what’s set to go down:

  • Werth will be a free agent after making $7M plus bonuses
  • Jamie Moyer will be a free agent after making $6.5M plus a couple more million in bonuses
  • Joe Blanton will be a free agent following his final arbitration year
  • J.C. Romero has a 2011 club option for $4.5M with a $250k buyout
  • Chad Durbin will be a free agent following his final arbitration year

First, let’s see what kind of money Werth can expect to make, or at least demand. His average production over the past two seasons yields a line of .270/.369/.503, with 30 homers.

Considering Werth will turn 32 in May of his first season with a new club, it’s not unreasonable to expect a three- or four-year deal for him, with an average annual value in the $12-16M range. Considering Werth isn’t represented by Scott Boras, it’s plausible to think he won’t be getting Matt Holliday money; good news for the Phils, as not only is that too much for Werth, they would have no chance to afford it. A lot of this hinges on a healthy, productive 2010 campaign.

Knowing the current constitution of the Phillies, as well as their prospect situation, is it prudent to extend Werth? Can the Phillies afford him? What sort of deal do you foresee for the slugger? Let’s hear what you think.



Filed under Offseason 2009-10

10 responses to “Werth’s…Value

  1. Evan

    As much as I would love to see Werth in a Phillies uniform for the foreseeable future, I really don’t think we will see the Phillies offer him any sort of deal in that price range.

  2. I think it’s safe to say that Dom Brown is going to be the next new corner OF on this team. I also think it’s fair to suggest that I would rather have him replace Raul Ibanez and not Jayson Werth.

    That all said, and notwithstanding all the variables that will come into play between now and 2012ish, I would bat an eyelash at giving him 3/$48 MM

  3. I mean they gave Ibanez 3/$30, surely they can throw another 18 mil on top for a guy that is 7 years younger with better production (they won’t though).

  4. phillydietz

    halladay’s raise is actually 10.25mill next year. Jays are paying 6mill this year. Looking at it financially someone of Victorino, Ibanez or Werth probably won’t be here next year with Brown as the replacement. Most likely they’ll try to move ibanez. My bet is Phils offer Werth 3/40mill. Its all going to depend on this years production who stays and who goes. Also J-roll is getting a 1mill raise and Happ, Ruiz and Victorino are also arbitration eligible after this season.

  5. phillydietz

    See its actually over 20mill in raises cause halladay’ raise is 10.25, Phils pick up Rollins option for ’11 , that’s 1 mill, Happ , Ruiz and Victorino arb another 3-4mill. This 20mill doesn’t include Werth’s raise. Blanton and Moyer is @15mill. Romero and Durbin could give them another 6mill. Sounds like the money is even to me. With a raise to Werth, a 4th and/or 5th starter to get and replacements for Romero and durbin. Either Phils are going to 150mill or someone making decent money has to go next year.

  6. Moving Ibanez would be an ideal solution, but nobody is going to want to take on that contract unless he sets the world on fire.

  7. phillydietz

    Agreed Phylan. They might have to pay 3-5 mill on his 11.5mill. Or move Victorino and play Werth in Center. I don’t think they can move Lidge. I bet actually Phils offer Werth like 3/36 paying him 10,12,14mill. We’ll see.

  8. The acquisition of Tyson Gillies might also make letting Victorino go more palatable. Having a very cheap team-controlled centerfielder would free up more money for Werth if he’s ready in say, 2012, and scouts seem to think he’s a legit everyday CF:

    Ben Badler: “Every day guy. Beyond just the speed, he’s got the patience, the contact-hitting skills and enough ability to drive the ball to make his outstanding speed something usable beyond being just a pinch-runner/defensive replacement.”

  9. gkit

    If you compare Werth’s offensive stats with Jason Bay you will see that they are very similar. Then add that Werth is a much better fielder and has more speed you would think he will get at least whatever Bay gets this year, which I believe is 16-18 mil a year. If he is not signed they would need to bring in someone with comparable power because he is the only right handed power hitter in the lineup. I would like to see him resign at 45-48M/3 yrs with Gillies replacing Victorino in 2011 and Brown replacing Ibanez in 2012 which would then make the signing affordable.

  10. Manifunk

    Werth is an all-around better player than Bay, as his defense is a lot better.

    The primary question is who is more valuable in the eyes of the Phillies front office: Werth or Howard? Odds are the team cannot afford to have both of them AND retain Utley (which they MUST do). I guess that they let Werth go, get the 2 draft picks (he projected as a type A this year, and barring a really bad year will do so again next year) and give one of Mayberry Jr./Brown a try, or grab a cheap 1-year corner OF option until Brown is ready.

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