Can the Phillies’ payroll afford Jayson Werth?

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In our last article examining the Phillies payroll, we found that allowing Jayson Werth to walk essentially maintains the same payroll of $141 million next season.

Re-signing Werth would simply ADD Werth’s salary on top of the $141 million. It originally seemed like $15 million would be enough to keep J-dub. But after listening to Werth’s agent Scott Boras on the radio it sure seems like it would take something in the range of $17 million per year to keep Werth in Philadelphia.

Other than simply increasing the payroll to $156 million or so (which you know the Phillies owners won’t do), the only possible way to keep Jayson Werth is to make a trade. Making room for $15 plus million is no easy task and there are really only two trades I can think of to keep Werth in Philly without simply adding his salary.


Trade Chase Utley, keep Jayson Werth, and find someone (maybe Valdez) to replace Utley.

Rationale: This trade ONLY happens if Ruben Amaro values Werth over Utley. They both will make roughly the same amount next season, making this more of a facelift than an upgrade. Chase Utley has not played up to his potential over the last two season and it is certainly more than valid to question whether Chase’s best years are behind him.

Positives: Re-signing Werth gives right-handed protection behind Ryan Howard in a very “left-handed heavy lineup.” It would also give you flexibility with Raul Ibanez. A team might be willing to take on a portion of Ibanez’s contract if he is coupled with Utley and then you can platoon Brown and Francisco. Or you could keep Ibanez and have an open competition in left field.

Negatives: YOU LOSE CHASE UTLEY! This guy is still one of the premier second baseman in baseball and one of the main core players on the Phillies.

*Quick note about Raul Ibanez. If the Phillies trade Ibanez, there is no chance a team will take on his entire $11.5 million next season. The Phillies could maybe get another team to take on $4.5 million and then pay the rest themselves. Unless Ed Wade would pay the whole thing…


Trade Jimmy Rollins and Raul Ibanez, platoon Brown and Francisco in left, put Valdez or someone else at short, and keep Werth in right.

Rationale: If a team takes on $4.5 million for Ibanez and you trade Rollins (who will make $8.5 million in 2011), that would give the Phillies $13 million to pay for Werth. Jimmy’s game has seriously declined in the last two seasons and Valdez is more than capable to play shortstop and he was decent at the plate. It might be tough to deal Ibanez alone, but packaging him with J-Roll might entice some teams.

Positives: Pretty much the same as with trading Utley.

Negatives: Say what you want about Jimmy’s game, but he is the heart and sole of the Phillies. Trading Rollins could kill the “mojo” that has sent the Phillies to three straight NLCS series.

Jimmy Rollins has the second best fielding percentage among shortstops of all time. Despite how well Valdez played in the field, he is no Jimmy Rollins.

If you don’t like those terrible trade ideas, it might be time to consider life without Werth. If Werth goes, Domonic Brown is set to replace him. The obvious flaw with that system is that it adds another lefty to an already lefty-heavy lineup. One way to resolve that issue is by trading Ibanez, which we already figured would only save you about $4.5 million. Even at $4.5 million, there may not be many buyers out there anyway.


Trade Ibanez, put Brown in right, Franciso in left, and use the money from Ibanez elsewhere.

Rationale: The Giants once again proved that pitching wins in the playoffs. Removing Ibanez from the picture gives Amaro flexibility to shop around for a reliever, a fifth starter, or maybe bulk up the bench.

Positives: If Brown and Francisco shine in 2011, that’s a pretty good, cheap outfield. That’s about all that I like about this option.

Negatives: How does Francisco, Victorino, and Brown sound to you? It may pan out down the road, but this outfield could very well waste a golden opportunity in Philadelphia Phillies history.


Trade Ibanez, get another outfielder like Cody Ross to replace him, and platoon Brown and Francisco in right. There are plenty Cody Ross types available (as much as I hate using his name) who could bat in the middle of the lineup from the right side.

Rationale: You can dump Ibanez while getting something in return. Platooning Domonic Brown and Francisco is the best utilization of both players. This is by far the best option in my mind.

Positives: Without trading Ibanez, the Phillies lineup would likely feature four straight left-handed batters 3 through 6 in the lineup. A Cody Ross type could offer some protection behind Howard for a fraction of the cost of Werth.

Domonic Brown is hopefully a future face of the franchise. Platooning him and Francisco not only eases Brown into the majors, but it gives Francisco more playing time.

Negatives: If Brown struggles and your Cody Ross type underperfoms, the Phillies could have a very average offense tin 2011.


Jayson Werth’s bat has been such an important part of the Phillies’ recent success. Losing him would not only drop your biggest bat from the right side, but you lose his power, speed, defense, and ability to hit with two strikes. But the fact remains that the Phillies cannot afford him. What Ruben Amaro does to replace Werth could very well define his legacy in Philadelphia.

For a more detailed look, visit my 2010 Phillies salaries and Phillies player contracts pages.

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