The 27-year-old outfielder missed almost two seasons with a wrist injury and was released by the Dodgers a week ago. Werth will have to pass a physical before he signs on the dotted line, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. (Update: The signing is officially a one-year deal and was finalized today, according to the Phillies Web site.)
Werth was a No. 1 pick of Baltimore (1997) back when Pat Gillick was GM and came up as a catcher. He earned $355,000 last season and didn't play a single game. The Dodgers tried to negotiate a contract rather than head to arbitration, but couldn’t reach an agreement.
The right-handed hitting outfielder suffered a broken wrist when he was hit by a pitch in spring training of 2005 and hasn't been the same since. He battled through 102 games that season, hitting just .234/.338/.374 before undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in the wrist. He missed the entire 2006 season and recently told his hometown paper he still has soreness, but expects to be ready this spring.
Werth had his best season in 2004, when he hit .265/.338/.486 with 16 homers in 325 ABs. The former catching prospect earned high marks for his defense that season, including time in center field.
Beerleaguer: Werth, a trim 6-5 athlete, always looked like an imposing figure at the plate. Gillick hasn’t been discreet about his love for ex-players, and athletes, and that’s Werth all the way.
We have to wait on what kind of deal this is, and also the result of the physical. I’m guessing on the one-year major league variety with incentives, with a possible option. I say that because St. Louis, San Diego and the Dodgers all reportedly had interest, so they’re not going to woo him with a non-roster invite or minor league deal.
If it turns out to be a major league deal, with nothing else on the way in terms of a LH outfielder, it's a little suspect. The Phillies are probably trying to establish some young depth 1-through-5, and Werth gives them a major-league ready option at a bargain price ... but only if he's healthy. A wrist injury can be a bitch.
Either way, Jeff Conine’s status as a fifth outfielder might be on shaky ground. He’s turning 41 next season, can't run and can't defend the way Werth can. It's even worse news for Chris Roberson, who might be squeezed out by the sudden surplus of defensive outfielders.