Monday, January 4, 2010

Jayson Werth=Jason Bay?

Jayson Werth will become a free agent after this season and's Todd Zolecki ponders what kind of deal Werth might command. His guess: 4 years/$64 million (or something similar):
3. Can the Phillies sign Jayson Werth to a contract extension?

Jason Bay could sign a four-year, $64 million contract with the Mets. You've got to think Werth will be able to command a similar contract once he becomes a free agent after next season. And I'm not sure if the Phillies can match that. They've got a ton of free agents coming after the 2011 season, so they will have to determine who they can keep and for how much. The Phillies also have top prospect Domonic Brown coming through the system, but it is unclear if he will he be ready to play every day at the big league level by 2011. But Werth is a rare talent: he can hit for power, he can run, he plays good defense. He would be tough to replace, which is why it would be good to have him around for a while longer.
To date, Werth has only had one above average season (2008) and one stellar season (2009), but that doesn't necessarily mean that Werth won't be able to land a Jason Bay-esque contract. Sure, Bay has far more extensive resume than Werth right now, but as it stands right now, there are plenty of reasons why Werth should be thinking and dreaming big next winter:

1. age
-When Werth becomes a free agent, he will only be 31 years old, which is the age Jason Bay was this winter.

2. Skill set
-As Zolecki noted, Werth is a phenomenal talent and can do just about everything well on the baseball field. While Bay got stuck with the "defensive liability" label this winter, it's nearly impossible to think that Werth will be stuck with the same label next winter because he's been a fantastic defensive player throughout his career. At the dish, Werth can do just about everything: hit for power, get on base, steal bases, score runs, etc. In short, there is plenty to like about Werth's game and ability.

3. Market
-This offseason, there were two prominent free agent hitters on the free agent market: Matt Holliday and Jason Bay. Holliday was generally thought of as the better all around player of the two, but their similar offensive ability certainly undercut the market for both players.

The market next winter looks very promising for Werth because there are no other outfielders with his skill set that are still in their prime. Case in point:
  • Carl Crawford is a fantastic talent and is still in the prime of his career, but his skill set is totally different than Werth
  • Maggilo Ordonez is a right handed power hitter, but he is past his prime and could be declining
  • Pat Burrell cannot play defense and might be on the decline offensively
  • Other options: Adam Dunn (cannot play defense, 1b?, left handed), Jose Guillen (headcase), Eric Byrnes (is he even a starter at this point?)

4. Economy
-The wild card in this equation. Hopefully for Werth, the economy has picked up by next winter and more teams have money to spend on free agents.

So if Werth is able to put together another monster season for the Phils (.275, 30 HR, 95 RBI, 20 SB, .370 OBP), then I would expect him to command a contract that not only matches the 4 year/$64 million that Jason Bay got from the Mets, but it's possible that he could get a larger deal (both money and years).

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