Saving Werth’s Money a Better Long-Term Solution

It’s becoming more and more likely that right field will be manned by someone other than Jayson Werth next season. You’ve had time to come to terms with this notion for a while now – the writing has been on the wall for some time. With the way Scott Boras is talking and the way the market is shaping up, it’s time to say our final goodbyes to Werth.

That might be for the better.

If Jayson Werth were to sign a five year, $90 million deal with the Phillies this offseason (before signing anyone else) the Phillies payroll next season would push to roughly $160 million. That’s before arbitration for guys like Kyle Kendrick and Ben Francisco, but also before the team tries to unload some other cash like Raul Ibanez or Brad Lidge.

In 2012, that payroll figure drops to approximately $114 million with Werth in the fold, seven other players with contracts, and a couple of buyout totals. If the Phillies decide to keep Roy Oswalt in 2012 – his option would be for $16 million – the number goes to $128 million (Oswalt’s $2 million buyout is already included in the 2012 payroll total, so add the remaining $14 million to that).

That’s nine players in 2012 at roughly $128 million. Also coming in 2012 is an arbitration eligible year for Cole Hamels worth over $10 million, plus Ryan Madson and Jimmy Rollins hitting free agency. Two guys who are must-keeps with Hamels and Halladay anchoring your rotation for years to come and Madson likely the closer of the future here. Rollins is a different situation, but with a thin shortstop market there seems to be a decent chance he’ll be in line for an extension.

Again, nine players in 2012 at $128 million, plus impending raises for Hamels, Madson, and a possible extension for Jimmy Rollins. And that doesn’t add in any other moves that could be made by the team in the rotation or bullpen from now until then.

So keeping Jayson Werth this year could hamstring this club should the Phillies brass reach an agreement with him.

What would it look like without him in the fold a few years down the line?

Glad you asked, because the money situation would be a little looser, allowing for the Hamels contract (a must at this point, and hopefully before or during his arbitration year so as not to let him walk into free agency for 2013) a Madson contract, and a possible J-Roll contract, as well.

Taking away that $90 million behemoth of a pact and the Phillies payroll would sit at a modest $88 million right now in 2012 and with the Oswalt option put into play, $112 million. There is considerable room for the trio of Hamels, Madson, and Rollins to stay longer term without the Werth deal on the books.

In 2012, the free agent list could find names like Sizemore, Kubel, Swisher, Cuddyer, in the outfield – plus Pujols, Fielder, and Gonzalez at first base, but we won’t be seeing those names in Philly.

Sure, that’s miles down the road, but wouldn’t you feel better knowing that, although the core of your franchise is aging into their mid-30’s, there will be room to maneuver financially to offset those concerns?

On the other hand, Werth provides a stable right-handed force in the middle of the order for years to come, something that isn’t readily available on the open market or through trade at this time. And to place some of the blame on Ruben Amaro Jr., was it wise to lock up Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton to their respective contracts equaling $46 million over three years, rather than sign Werth using some of that money? Hindsight of course is 20/20, but I’m not sure many were delighted by those contracts anyway. But that’s neither here nor there.

While it’s not easy to say goodbye, I hope you have your best-wishes card written up and ready for sending. It’s very likely we’ve seen the last of Jayson Werth (as we beat this dead horse into the ground some more). In this case, it might be wise to look further ahead when dealing with the Werth contract demands.

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