2010-11 Free Agency

Warming to the Idea of Ben Fran in Right Field

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, December 28, 2010 05:19 PM Comments: 65

As I write this, I have the heat pumping near my desk, a hot cup of tea to my left, and long johns on. It’s friggin’ cold. We need something to warm us up during the doldrums of winter and the idea of having Ben Francisco get a full season of at-bats is something everyone could get used to.

Let’s face it – the average fan is searching to find something wrong with this team. One of the remaining issues is the hole in right field. Depth chart followers realize that Ben Francisco, Dom Brown, and Ross Gload are the current right fielders on the roster. It’s unlikely the Phillies will make a move to add anymore payroll to a bloated budget. If anything, Joe Blanton and his $17 million over the next two seasons will be unloaded to free up some space.

The three men who must now make up for the loss of Jayson Werth all have their own issues, their own faults and strengths.

Ross Gload would appear to be the least likely to take over as the starter – he’s just too valuable off the bench, although an increase in at-bats is not out of the question. Domonic Brown was to be handed the reigns – or so everyone thought. He’s been assured nothing heading into Spring Training. Brown will have to earn his keep.

That leaves Ben Francisco. Ben Fran has started in the league for an extended period (one and a half years in Cleveland) and still presents some upside at just 29 years old. Remember, Werth was a late bloomer himself, reaching stardom at the same age. To be fair, Francisco doesn’t have the same pedigree as Werth and comes with less fanfare and hype. Still, with the right coaching and an opportunity, he can be a valuable asset in right field.

His glovework pales in comparison to the departed Bearded One and his arm isn’t nearly as strong. Offensively, however, their are some signs he can be a constant contributor as a starter.

His 162-game average comes out to .263/18/63, with an OPS of .775; hardly All-Star numbers. But an All-Star isn’t exactly what the Phillies need. On the bases, Francisco stole eight bases in 2010 in just under 200 plate appearances. At 500 at bats, he has 20 steal potential. If he can provide a stat line similar to that while playing adequate defense, Ben Francisco can be a commodity.

There are some numbers that also present Ben Fran as just another guy. His career 3.6 WAR says he’s a bit above a replacement level player. The advanced fielding metric UZR is also a negative number for Francisco: -6.6 over his four years in the major leagues.

So where does Ben Francisco sit? Is he a talent that can blossom with the proper opportunity in a lineup filled with potency? Or is he simply a nice player best suited for bench duty? You have three months to warm to the idea of Ben Francisco as the starting right fielder. It just might happen.


Coming to Grips with Cliff Lee

Posted by Michael Baumann, Tue, December 14, 2010 05:13 PM Comments: 66

Last Friday, I fell, and fell hard, for a Twitter hoax orchestrated by a former writer for The Fightins that had Zack Greinke going to the Phillies for, essentially, a bag of nickels and a case of beer. Before I realized that the report had been faked, I sent a link to the tweet in an email to several Phillies fans, including Paul Boye of this site, my father, and my younger brothers, along with the following:

“I’m sitting in the Temple computer lab right now. If this is true, I’m going to scream out the news, tear off my clothes, and run down the hall stark naked, urinating everywhere from sheer joy. Until then, I’ll reserve judgment.”

You can imagine my reaction when the news broke late last night that the Phillies had signed one Cliff Lee, the Anointed One, whose brief sojourn in red pinstripes in 2009 generated the kind of devotion among Phillies fans usually reserved for prepubescent Canadian pop stars. Whose departure, the cost of acquiring the best pitcher in baseball, led to a firestorm in this area the likes of which had not been seen since the Philadelphia police bombed the MOVE house in 1985.

On one hand, this move doesn’t make much sense–the Phillies, far and away the oldest team in baseball with several holes to fill, gave the richest free agent contract in team history to pitcher in his 30s. After all, this team won the division in 2007 with Kyle Kendrick as its No. 2 starter and won a World Series with Cole Hamels and three other guys who got hot at the same time. This season, it wasn’t the starting pitching that failed the team in the playoffs, it was the offense–an offense that saw its best performer in 2010 follow the money down I-95 when free agency hit. So why splurge on a fourth top-line starting pitcher?

It turns out, this move isn’t really about rationality. This move is about parking the Death Star in orbit of Alderaan. It’s about Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt showing up for Spring Training, looking at each other, and giggling and the sheer preposterousness of what has been wrought. This is about Ruben Amaro indulging his inner 14-year-old and putting together a rotation the likes of which are ordinarily only seen in video games. Perhaps most of all, this is about Cliff Lee, once again, doing what he wants, and to hell with everyone else’s expectations.

A few quick bullet points about the Cliff Lee trade:

  • The Phillies will field two Cy Young winners in the same rotation for the third time in team history (Steve Carlton and John Denny, 1984-1985 and Lee and Pedro Martinez, August-October 2009).
  • Hamels, Halladay, Oswalt, and Lee are a combined 108-66 in a Phillies uniform, including the postseason.
  • Cliff Lee is the first pitcher to leave the Phillies, make an all-star team, and come back to the team since Andy Ashby.
  • Courtesy of Dave Cameron of FanGraphs: over the past three seasons, Halladay leads all starting pitchers in wins above replacement. Lee is second, Hamels 16th, and Oswalt 21st.
  • Each of the Phillies’ top four starting pitchers has led the league in WHIP at least once.

The Definitive Summary to Cliff Lee Part II

Posted by Corey Seidman, Tue, December 14, 2010 01:57 PM Comments: 54

Several days ago, Phillies Assistant GM Scott Proefrock, when asked of the team potentially signing Cliff Lee, responded: “That ship has sailed.”

It did not seem like a smug, shady answer like those typically given by Godfather Ruben Amaro, it seemed like a genuine quote. He was too expensive. The Phils could not compete with seven-year offers or $150-$160 million deals.

So, what happened? How did such an improbable fantasy turn into reality in the span of one day?

The “Mystery Team”

For a little over one week, Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated and the MLB Network mentioned that, in addition to the Yankees and Rangers, a third “mystery team” was expressing interest. Some did not believe Heyman, most thought that even if a mystery team existed, it did not pose a serious threat.

The entire ordeal reminded me of the WWE. It was as if there was a triple-threat match for the Heavyweight Championship, with the champion and challenger known to all, and the mystery opponent being a big name star making his return.

When the dust settled, the Phillies turned out to be the “mystery team.” But, didn’t Proefrock say mere days ago that the ship had sailed? What explains the late surge made by the Phillies after weeks of nothingness on the Cliff Lee front?

Who Called Who?

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported early Tuesday morning that his feeling was that the Yankees and Rangers made their offers, but Lee subsequently decided his heart was in Philadelphia. Grant’s thinking is that Lee came to this realization and, along with agent Darek Braunecker, “put out feelers” to the Phillies, who simply reacted. Ruben Amaro did not “act” as he did to get Lee (the first time), Roy Halladay, or Roy Oswalt. He “reacted.”

Proefrock was giving accurate information when he said the ship had sailed. But, when he and Amaro were confronted by Braunecker with his client’s wishes to return to the city that treated him like a saint 18 months ago, it was simply too incredible an opportunity to pass up.

Comfort Over Dollars

The actual offers of the Yankees and Rangers have been widely circulated. We know that Cliff Lee chose happiness over the largest offer. At first, it appeared that he had given up $50 million to choose Philly over New York. But with word coming out that his easily reachable vesting option in 2016 is worth a whopping $27.5MM, that number is realistically closer to $13MM.

The Spit Factor

Cliff Lee’s wife was reportedly spit on at Yankee Stadium last season. I think $150 million can dry the residue of any loogy, but Philadelphia author and sportswriter, Randy Miller, was told that Lee’s wife was the main reason he did not choose New York. She “wanted no part of New York.”

Amaro the Magician

For a year, we complained about the trade of Cliff Lee to Seattle. The Phillies rushed and did not get enough in return. It was a bad trade. The end. Thankfully, Ruben Amaro more than made up for it by not only re-acquiring Lee, but also obtaining Roy Oswalt via trade.

In reality, Amaro has acquired:

  • Roy Halladay
  • Cliff Lee
  • Roy Oswalt
  • Ben Francisco
  • Phillippe Aumont
  • Tyson Gillies
  • J.C. Ramirez


  • Kyle Drabek
  • Michael Taylor
  • Travis d’Arnaud
  • J.A. Happ
  • Anthony Gose
  • Jonathan Villar
  • Lou Marson
  • Jason Donald
  • Carlos Carrasco
  • Jason Knapp

Three aces – two of which have won Cy Youngs – for the price of one highly touted pitching prospect (Drabek), one third starter (Happ), and eight question marks. This does not happen every day. GMs are not capable of this.

How has Amaro done it? Well, by being creative, flexible, assertive, deep-pocketed, lucky, lucky, more lucky, and lucky again. Amaro has had the backing of a notoriously frugal ownership group and has made the most of the wealthiest era in Phillies history.

He has also benefited from the fact that the Phillies have been not only successful, but they possess a beautiful stadium, unbelievably passionate fans, and a gregarious group of players.

Hanley Ramirez may outhit Jimmy Rollins, but he does not have his personality. A year ago I’d tell you that the previous sentence serves no purpose, that, in baseball, personality does not matter as much as talent. That even if Jimmy is the proxy for the Phillies attitude as a whole, that intangible is less important than dozens of other skills.

But how can you say that now, when a player said “no” to two larger offers to come back to Citizens Bank Park?

Just a few years ago, no pitcher wanted any part of CBP. Now, guys are giving up guaranteed years and trust funds for their grandchildren to pitch in Philadelphia.

Truly remarkable times, these are.


Free Agent Option: Magglio Ordonez

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, December 13, 2010 08:07 AM Comments: 41

His eyes had to light up. After Scott Boras realized the Nationals were going to give Jayson Werth a seven-year, $126 million contract, it became clear one of his other clients, Magglio Ordonez, would be getting paid as well.

Prior to that deal, many were unsure how the market would unfold for the talented, yet aging, hitter. Ordonez, soon-to-be 37, is coming off a fractured ankle that ended his 2010 season prematurely. With Detroit last year, he batted .303 with 12 home runs and 59 RBI in 84 games. His .852 OPS was slightly below his career average, although his .378 on-base percentage was slightly above his usual levels.

Boras understands the free agent crop of outfielders is thin and he’ll do his best to cash in on that, even though Ordonez is slowly headed toward being at least a part-time DH. In ’10, he played 71 of his 84 games in the field, however, his age will soon make him a liability with the glove. Ordonez has never been flashy out there, anyway. And, in three of the last five seasons, his UZR has been a negative number.

Now, to that contract he and his agent will be angling for. Early word is, the Ordonez/Boras team want somewhere in the two-year, $20 million neighborhood. The Tigers are considered the front runner, but the Phillies absolutely have to make an inquiry. An issue moving forward for the Phillies would be their surrendering of a first round draft pick due to Ordonez’s type-A status. Is Ruben Amaro willing to give that up for a 36-year old outfielder that has a slowly fading bat and isn’t all that great in the outfield? Seems unlikely at this point. Still, don’t count them out entirely.

The need for a right-handed bat is fairly high after Jayson Werth defected to Washington. Is it high enough to spend $10 million per season, plus bring in another older player? Ordonez could very well have two more solid seasons left in him, especially playing in a smaller park than in Detroit and in a very good offense.

It’s not an easy decision. Ordonez could bring them middle of the order stability on a short-term contract. After all, he has hit .300 or better in each of the last four seasons and hasn’t hit less than .290 since his rookie year of 1998.

On the other hand, Ordonez could easily age quickly like Raul Ibanez, leaving two obstacles to overcome in the outfield. Basically, it all comes down to the asking price and the loss of a draft pick.

Chances: He’s one of the better, more talented hitters on the market, but his age is clearly an issue. So is the contract he wants. We’ll settle for 4/10 Ruben Head’s just because Ordonez is so potent with the bat.


Notes From the Winter Meetings: Wednesday

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, December 08, 2010 11:40 PM Comments: 123

-Yes, you heard correctly – Zack Greinke. Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? No. The hottest rumor out of the Winter Meetings thus far pertaining to the Phillies is that they are “considering” the Royals ace and Cy Young winner.  A person with knowledge of the situation told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that the Phillies brass has had internal discussions as well as talks with Kansas City about Greinke. Amaro said:

“We have explored and tried and talked about acquiring some significant players,” he said. “We’ve tried to shoot for the moon on some things and laid some groundwork, but the possibility of them happening is kind of remote.”

Unlikely as it may be, Ruben and his boys are stirring things up a bit down in Central Florida. It’s not as crazy as it sounds, but what would it cost? If Cole Hamels is involved, you stay away. Hamels fits beautifully in between the two Roy’s, so you don’t want to mess with that. In no uncertain terms, the Royals organization will pillage the Phils farm system – that’s a given. Dom Brown would have to be involved – also a given.

This trade rumor barely as legs, but it’s a big one nonetheless.

-Dennys Reyes still isn’t a Phillie, however, he could be one soon. There have been multiple reports today of him signing with the team, although nothing has been completed. It would be for one-year with a second-year option.

-Aaron Rowand is not coming to Philadelphia, so says Giants GM Brian Sabean. He said the rumors surrounding his expensive, little-used outfielder are conjecture. This one could be a possibility, especially if the Giants pay most of his remaining salary. He’s a guy the Phillies know well; he’s also a guy the Giants would love to unload. Keep an eye on this, it may have legs. Am I fan of it? Not really, but the market is thinned out after Matt Diaz and Jeff Francouer signed.

-Is Magglio worth it? Scott Boras, his agent-extraordinare, says the bidding begins at two-years, $20 million. If that number comes down a bit, then the Phillies might be on to something. However, I’m just not sure if he’s worth $10 million a year. I’m also not so sure Carlos Peña is worth $10 million a season either, but that’s what the Cubs gave him, so anything’s possible.

UPDATE, 9:00 AM Thursday: While I was tucked away in bed, Dennys Reyes finally signed a contract with the Phillies; go figure. The deal is worth $1.1 million in 2011 and there is a mutual option worth $1.35 million in 2012. If Reyes reaches 70 appearances this year, he’ll have the right to exercise that. There is also a $150,000 buyout in ’12.

Not a bad deal for a lefty who will have to remember how to stop lefties. Then again, this seems to be the going rate for guys of his caliber nowadays. Just yesterday, George Sherrill signed a similar contract with the Atlanta Braves. Reyes can’t be any worse than J.C. Romero was in his final year-and-a-half in Philly, and for less than half the price.

UPDATE, 9:12 am Thursday: In the Rule 5 draft, the Phillies selcted Michael Martinez, an infielder from the Washington Nationals. Martinez, 28, is a light-hitting, switch-hitter who has been a minor league lifer. In AAA last season, he had a .720 OPS and played five positions.

They’ll get a better look at him during Spring Training to see if he’s worth keeping for an entire season. By the looks of his numbers, it’s a long shot. If the Phillies do not keep him, he will have to be offered back to the Nats.


Notes From the Winter Meetings: Tuesday

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, December 08, 2010 01:12 AM Comments: 16

Quite the frenetic day in Orlando, but without much to report really.

Off the table comes one of the better right handed bats on the market in Matt Diaz, who inked a two-year contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Phillies were never really in on him – there were no reports or official tweets linking the two sides – but speculation was that the Phillies would be a good fit.

Still on the table (although if he was actually on a table, it would certainly collapse) is Dennys Reyes. Rumors were abound that the large lefty – formerly of the Cardinals, Twins, Padres, Royals, 76ers, and Chiba Lotte Marines – was close to joining the Phillies bullpen. It has not happened as of yet, but sources close to the action say it’s within reach.

The issue with Reyes is that he’s a lefty who can’t get out lefties. They hit .307 against him last year and you don’t need me to tell you that isn’t very good. During his career which has spanned 10 different cities, Reyes has actually been serviceable against left-handed batters sporting a .238 opponent average. Not excellent, but not terrible and that’s what’s keeping him in the league.

Some other names that surfaced today were Pedro Feliciano and George Sherrill. As for the latter, he had a horrendous season in 2010. Horrendous isn’t really even the adjective to describe Sherrill’s year in L.A. His 6.69 ERA and 1.92 WHIP tell the story. Against left handed hitting he was actually quite good – they managed just a .196 average off of Sherrill. The problem was those damn righties. They hit a lofty .427 off him.

The moral of today’s story: tread lightly with the lefties. They’re either too expensive or coming off a bad year, there doesn’t seem to be an in-between.

More tomorrow, we’re sure.


Is Rich Harden a Bullpen Fit for the Phillies?

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, December 07, 2010 12:35 PM Comments: 32

Armed with all the talent in the world, Rich Harden is both a nightmare and a blessing. Signing him is the equivalent of playing black or red at the roulette table – it’s a 50/50 proposition you win. If you do come out victorious, he’ll still end up on the disabled list at some point, but in the end you’re team will have gotten more out of him than you previously imagined when signing him. If you lose, well, you seem to lose a lot with Rich Harden.

And that’s not to say Harden is a loser, he’s not. Losing really isn’t in his vocabulary at the major league level.

Through eight up and down seasons, Harden has gone 55-34 with a 3.36 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. Injuries have set him back nearly every year he’s pitched – Harden only has one season with more than 30 starts. But man, if he isn’t the ultimate high risk/high reward pitcher, then I don’t know if one exists.

Harden’s laser fastball no longer has the zip it once did. According to FanGraphs Pitch F/X, his velocity dropped from 94.1 in 2007 to 90. 8 in 2010 with that fastball. With that, the speed on the rest of his pitches has dropped as well. Also sinking like a brick were his overall numbers.

Following a magnificent 2008 campaign that saw Harden go 10-2 with an ERA a shade above two, ’09 and ’10 were true regression years as he again failed to stay on the mound. During those two years he tossed a combined 233 innings and had finished 2010 with an ERA above five. His K/9 went from 11.3 in ’08 to just 7.3 in ’10. His BB/9 went from 0.8 to 1.8 during that same time, the worst of his career.

Harden’s name is being thrown around the Winter Meetings as we speak. Guys with his pedigree – although it’s a damaged one – will always continue to resurface as long as he can throw. GM’s are enamored with that kind of talent. But how will he be used? There is talk that moving him to the bullpen would be a prudent one. Not only would it benefit his career for the long haul (hopefully cutting down on the injuries and lengthening it) but also provide the team with a decent seventh-inning threat.

Last year Harden received $7.5 million on a one-year deal – starter-money from the Texas Rangers. It’s unlikely he’ll be commanding that sort of contract this time around.

The Phillies are currently in the market for relatively cheap bullpen arms and Harden could fit the bill if he’s ready to admit that starting is no longer the path to take.


Notes From the Winter Meetings: Monday

Posted by Paul Boye, Mon, December 06, 2010 09:15 PM Comments: 42

A good Monday evening from central Florida, where baseball’s Winter Meetings have kicked into high gear. The Swan and Dolphin resort in Lake Buena Vista, not far from Disney World, is the center of the baseball universe through Wednesday. I’m here to look for a job, but that won’t stop me from moseying around the resort, trying to take in all that I can in this short time.

The Winter Meetings double as a job fair. We all know that players, agents and club executives are all present for negotiations, but the jobs available aren’t restricted to the ones on the field. I spent this past season working for Baseball Info Solutions, a company that converts every single pitch from every single game of a full season into data and numbers that can be used to evaluate pitchers in new ways. Now, as I look to move forward in my career, I’m talking with clubs and teams and their representation at the Major/Minor League job fair. It isn’t glorious, and few posted jobs are for immediate work at the Major League level, but it’s already a rewarding experience.

Across the way, in the second half of the two-hotel resort, there’s even more activity. The MLB Network, MLB.com and ESPN have all set up shop for live, on-site broadcasting, delivering news when it happens from where it happens. Not only that, the sight of reporters, players, agents, managers and broadcasters is constant. Charlie Manuel made an appearance, as did White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, superagent Scott Boras, national and Phillies reporters like Ken Rosenthal and Todd Zolecki.

I’ve yet to see Cliff Lee, sadly.

There is a palpable sense of excitement all throughout the resort area. Maybe it was just me soaking in every aspect of the scene that I could, but there’s a feeling in the air not unlike the one you get when you go to your seat at an actual ballgame. The pace is frenetic, and the news is constant. Even better, nearly everyone is accessible. In the course of one day, I managed to shake hands with everyone from Giants manager Bruce Bochy to former Philly and current broadcaster Mitch Williams to ESPN columnist Keith Law (who, by the way, I should be having a conversation with for PN this week. More on that another time). The entire baseball world is here, and it’s awesome.

The coming days should, hopefully, yield even better things. I’ll be tweeting as I go, but I won’t be there to break news; I’ll leave that to the professionals. There may not be much Phillies news to break this year, at least in relation to recent offseasons (unless, of course, you consider Jeff Francoeur newsworthy), but there will still be plenty of exciting things to come, and I hope to share them with you all.

UPDATE, 8:48 pm (Pat Gallen): Mike DiGiovana of the LA Times is reporting the Phillies have interest in trading for Juan Rivera of the Angels. With LAA serious about Carl Crawford joining an already deep outfield, the 32-year old could be on his way out, and at a friendly price to the Phillies.

Rivera hit 15 home runs and knocked in 55 runs a year ago in only 124 games (455 plate appearances).  Two seasons ago he was a major power source for the Angels, hitting 25 home runs. He’s in the final year of a three year deal which will pay the outfielder $5.5 million. It’s expected the Angels would pick up some of that salary making him another decent platoon option.

They’ve already shown plenty of interest in Jeff Francouer (perhaps too much) and have been linked to Matt Diaz.


Free Agent Option: Matt Diaz

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, December 03, 2010 11:08 AM Comments: 57

Finally, we can talk about Matt Diaz. Not about how he’s killing the Phillies or tripping trespassers wearing ridiculous spandex suits (see below), but about how he can actually help this Phillies club with his skill at the plate.

Diaz was non-tendered by the Atlanta Braves yesterday, meaning he’s a free agent and ready to mingle. Could the Phillies have interest in the 32-year old outfielder? You bet your baseballs.

For the better part of five seasons in the National League East, Diaz has had the Phillies number hitting .338 over 165 plate appearances. There’s always a guy who isn’t a stud – normally just a role player – that your team can’t get out under any circumstance. Matt Diaz was that guy.

Now, the Phillies have the opportunity to sign him to be part of the solution of losing Jayson Werth. It wouldn’t be the worst move in the world, either. For what Diaz would command on the open market, Ruben Amaro would be shrewd to thoroughly kick the tires on this right field option. With a pairing of Diaz and Dom Brown in right and Ben Francisco and Raul Ibanez in left, two platoons wouldn’t be an ideal scenario, however, it’s a risk worth taking at a time when the free agent landscape is filled with has-been outfielders. As we’ve talked about for the past few weeks, the trade market is thin as well.

Diaz is an eight-year vet, although most of his early seasons were spent shuffling between the minors and the bigs. His career .301 average from the right side would play well here, although he’s not a power alternative to Werth. In 2009, Diaz hit a career high 13 home runs in 125 games – not exactly Aaron-esque. Still, he’d surely have the opportunity to knock in runs at a healthier clip than Atlanta in this batting order.

The better news: he hits lefties well. Try .335 against them with 29 homers and 100 RBI in 735 plate appearances; basically just a shade more than a seasons-worth. Hell, Jayson Werth has only hit .292 against lefties in his career, so this move would be a bit of an upgrade to combat the left-handed problem the Phillies face every night.

An underlying factor would be his lineup-balancing. Placido Polanco is currently the only Phillie who seems to have any sense of how to use situational hitting to his advantage. Diaz is another threat to hit the ball to the opposite field with runners in scoring position, a trait missing from the DNA of this team.

As far as his glove is concerned, Diaz is just ordinary. His UZR for the past five seasons averages to roughly 1.8, meaning he’s basically a replacement-level defender. No matter who you put out there, few will have the speed and athleticism to play right field like Werth did, so even at replacement-level, Diaz will do just fine because of his prowess with the bat.

Are you on board with Diaz? He’ll likely come cheap since he’s been nothing but a platoon player. And if he and Brown co-exist together splitting at-bats, would anyone object to a .290 average with 25 total home runs and 80 RBI between the two? On the other side of the coin, signing Diaz pushes the Phillies into platoon mode. In any case, it’ll be nice to know Diaz would no longer haunt the Phillies if he’s wearing their jersey.


PN Writer's Roundtable: Jayson Werth

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, December 02, 2010 10:00 AM Comments: 22

QUESTION: Now that he’s a free agent, where do you think Jayson Werth will end up and how much will he get?

Nick “The Beerman” Staskin: Not many people hate the Red Sox more than the Yankees, however I do. In a few weeks, I expect to hate them a lot more.

I’m expecting Werth to sign a 5 yr deal worth about $94 million with the BoSox.

Boston wisely let Victor Martinez go, and I am expecting them to fill his spot in the lineup with a much better option in Werth. The Red Sox outfield is like the Island of Misfit Toys (see what I did there, implementing the holidays?) and Werth can step right in and give them a 5-tool option at a price that they can easily afford.

Jeff Nelson: If the Phillies can’t resign Jayson Werth, I sure hope Detroit can.  Despite already inking former Cleveland Indian and Boston Red Sox backstop, Victor Martinez to a 4-year $50MM deal, the Tigers would forfeit their 2011 first round pick to Philadelphia, not Boston, if they sign Jayson Werth.  That being said I think he’ll wind up with Boston.  I’ve had a gut feeling since the end of the 2010 baseball season, Werth would end up there.  If Adrian Beltre wants too many years or becomes too pricey for what Theo Epstein & company want to offer, they’ll desperately need another impact bat, especially from the right side.  I know Boston’s OF would be crowded if they sign Werth, but they could possibly move one of Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron or maybe even J.D. Drew if they eat some of his salary.

Outside of Werth and Carl Crawford, there aren’t many viable options for Boston that make sense for them.  You can cross off V-Mart and Manny for obvious reasons.  If Beltre doesn’t return and Kevin Youkilis gets moved to the hot corner, they have a potential need for a first basemen.  But If you look further own the road, three high profile first basemen might hit free agency a year later (Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez and Prince Fielder), which probably increases the chance they plug someone at 1B for one year and take a shot with one of those guys.  In other words they may kick the tires on Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn but they ain’t coming to Beantown on a one-year deal.

Which brings us back to Werth and Crawford.  I highly doubt those two get what they and their agents are asking for.  But I do think the Angles are desperate enough and will overpay to land Crawford.  Again, this would leave the Red Sox desperate for a middle of the order bat and Werth would be a great fit for that lineup.  I’m guessing Boston will sign Werth to a 5-year deal.  I don’t think he gets the $100+MM he’s seeking, but he’ll get more than the Mets gave Jason Bay last year.  My prediction: 5-year $90MM deal.

Kieran Carobine: There a lot of teams showing ‘interest’ in Jayson Werth, while many of the suitors may just be trying to cherry pick. The majority of the teams that look in contention to acquire Werth all come out of the American League. That is, unless you still count the Phillies in this. My guess right now is that the Boston Red Sox have the upper hand. They have been courting Carl Crawford heavily this offseason as well and it could down to numbers for these guys. It seems Crawford wants an eight year deal while Werth is looking for five or six. Either way if the Red Sox sign one of these guys, it will be one of the biggest deals Boston has signed under their new management.

Some other teams in the mix are Detroit, the Yankees, Texas and possibly the Angels. I think Detroit is mainly focused on determining the value for Magglio Ordonez right now and could likely resign him. The Yankees are always a threat to make a big splash in free agency but like Texas, they may be pushing all their chips in on the Cliff Lee sweepstakes.

Then again, Werth could come back to Philly on a smaller deal (in years) but its very unlikely. My best bet is he will be the right fielder for the Red Sox next season. Bring on the Hammer!

Paul Boye: It’s hard to get a feel for this, especially since Carl Crawford isn’t close to signing yet. Crawford will dictate how this market will play out, and until we know anything about his destination and contract, Werth’s future is just as murky. I will say that I expect Detroit and Boston to be the favorites, and if neither lands Crawford – say, the Angels do instead – I’m sure their attention will be on Jayson. In the end, I like Boston by a bit, but Detroit should be in it until the end.

Pat Gallen: The obvious teams angling for the services of Jayson Werth include Boston, Detroit, and the Los Angeles Angels. I’m going in a different direction. With Paul Konerko coming off the books and likely headed elsewhere, the Chicago White Sox will have some money to spend. Instead of spending $15 million per season on the aging Konerko, I expect them to do their best to get Werth.

As an Illinois boy, so it would be a homecoming of sorts for the midwestern boy. The ChiSox have $82 million locked up for next year and those who know General Manager Kenny Williams know he will not shy away from making a big splash. Although their payroll has only been around $100 million the past few seasons, if Williams can get owner Jerry Reinsdorf to get that into the 110′s, they may be able to afford him.

Bringing in Werth would push Carlos Quentin either to DH or out of Chicago. He’s a name the Phillies have balked at as a replacement for Werth – Jayson Stark of ESPN.com has reported the asking price to be Dom Brown. That to me says the White Sox are trying to upgrade. This a bold prediction, but absolutely feasible. I see Chicago giving Werth a four-year deal worth $72 million dollars with a fifth year mutual option that could be based on incentive clauses. By the time that fifth year rolls around, Werth will be nearing 37, so an option year will offset his aging and likely decline.

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