The Phillies are coming off an offseason in which they signed Shane Victorino, Roy Halladay, Joe Blanton, Danys Baez, Placido Polanco, Brian Schneider, Carlos Ruiz and Ross Gload to multiyear deals, pushing their 2011 payroll to $130.85 million.
Werth, who arrived yesterday sporting a bushy beard and shaggy hair, will be a 31-year-old free agent after this season.
The Phillies will be less than $10 million away from the $140 million threshold that they targeted this season, with 15 open roster spots. What happens next is anybody's guess.
"I haven't really thought about it," said Werth, who will earn $7 million in the last year of the 2-year contract he signed before last season. "I know that how much they are spending is an issue, and I think it's always an issue, no matter what the situation is. I definitely think that will play a part of it going forward. But again, that's something that my agent and the team will work out, and hopefully it will work out and I'll be in Philadelphia for a long time and continue to play with these guys."
The two sides have not engaged in substantive negotiations. Earlier this offseason, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. admitted that money will play a role in the team's decision-making. The status of top prospect Domonic Brown, a corner outfielder, could also factor in.
"Jayson is under contract through this year," Amaro said. "We've had very, very preliminary discussions about what his future might be like here. There will be some difficult decisions down the road. We'll have to weigh where we want to fit in all the dollars and how we want to fit the puzzle together. We can not operate with nothing but $15 to $20 million players. And if there's any indication, how much the Holliday and Bay signings have a direct impact on where Werth may be at the end of this year, we're going to have to sift through it and figure out what's best for the organization."
The writing is on the wall for Werth in Philadelphia. With so much money committed already to players in 2011, there is virtually no chance that the Phillies will be able to re-sign Werth without doing something creative or having him take a well below market deal. And as the article mentioned, if top prospect Domonic Brown is ready to take over the position in 2011, then the Phillies would have a cheap, high upside player who could replace Werth.
And as I mentioned back in January, if Werth puts up big numbers in 2010, then there is plenty of reasons to expect that he will land a huge contract. Sure, maybe the deal won't be in the Matt Holliday territory, but Werth could position himself as one of the top free agents on the market and demand a multi year commitment with a $13-$16 million dollar annual salary.