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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Will Jayson Werth Be With the Phillies After This Season?

Now that the Phillies have the following monies committed for 2011, will they be able to sign Jayson Werth to a long-term deal if they want to keep their payroll around $140 million:

Carlos Ruiz -- somewhere around $2 million (he's filed for arbitration, but expect the Phillies to sign him to a multi-year deal)
Ryan Howard -- $20 million
Chase Utley -- $15 million
Jimmy Rollins -- $8.5 million
Placido Polanco -- $6 million
Raul Ibanez -- $12 million
Shane Victorino -- $7.25 million
Roy Halladay -- $20 million
Cole Hamels -- $9.5 million
Joe Blanton -- $8 million
Brad Lidge -- $11.5 million
Ryan Madson -- $4.5 million.

That's $125.25 million right there for 11 players. Sure, you lose the contracts of Jamie Moyer ($7.5 million) and J.C. Romero ($4 million), but you still have to pay an average of about $1.5 million for 14 other guys -- your back-up catcher, utility infielders, extra outfielders and most likely give more money to up-and-coming starter J.A. Happ. So if the Phillies want to go for it all in 2011, their payroll -- without Werth -- might have to be around $150 million.

With Werth, it's a different story. If he has another year like he did last year, he's bound to be in the range of a bigger deal, a Jason Bay-like 4-year, $66 million contract. If the Phillies were to, say, give Werth 4 years at $14 million, then their payroll for 12 players for 2011 would be $139.25. That's a lot of money, but, then again, it's one pretty awesome nucleus of players.

A nucleus, by the way, that will not last forever and that is built to win between now and say 2013. Spend the money now, and, yes, the Phillies could have a swollen payroll. Refuse to do so, and then the team could miss an opportunity that might not come around again for 20 years.

The Werth situation bears watching. Is Domonic Brown, the untouchable prospect, going to be ready for prime time after this season? More likely is that the club will want him to replace Raul Ibanez after the 2011 season (and perhaps serve as the fourth outfielder in 2011). If that's the case, then who will play right field in 2011? If that's the case, then doesn't a failure to sign Werth give Ryan Howard a ton more leverage over the club, for the simple reason that if they were to fail to re-sign Werth and Howard, the club as fans know and love will cease to exist and, once again, local sports management will be accused of being cheap and blowing a good thing up.

It all will depend on what Werth asks for. If he takes the route of both Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton, the Phillies will have a chance to ink him to a free-agent deal that is within their range. If he decides to talk like Cliff Lee and send a signal that he wants to test the free-agent market, there's no telling what some of the biggest spenders out there might offer. And then the Phillies won't be players for him.

Stay tuned.


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