The Phillies reward outfielder Jayson Werth with a taste of long-term security, but also leave the door open.
Beerleaguer: For Werth, there must be a sense of relief to finally achieve a financial windfall at age 29, nearly seven years after breaking into the league. Because of injuries, inconsistencies and holes in his all-around game, he’s never managed to stick in a starting role until last season, and thus, never climbed the ladder financially during his arbitration years. Werth will reportedly earn $3 million next season, nearly double the $1.7 million he received in 2008, which is a pretty fair raise in terms of sticking to the pay grade in his final year of eligibility. In actuality, he’s worth closer to the $7 million he’ll earn in 2010. His .273/.363/.498 (121 OPS+) line, along with his blend of speed (20 SB), defense and power (24 homers), compares favorably with outfielders throughout the league and he was one of the unsung heroes from the championship season. With Pat Burrell gone, his importance is magnified even more; he’s now the big right-handed threat in the Phillies’ lineup.
Still, two years suggests only guarded optimism on the part of the Phillies. Health-wise, he appears to be in the clear, but there could be lingering doubts that he can go wire-to-wire as an everyday player. He isn’t a lost cause against right-handed pitching, but it can get ugly, and you think about some of the upgrades a team like Atlanta made – adding Derek Lowe, Javier Vasquez and Kenshin Kawakami – he’s going fall into slumps. Also, two years is just enough time to determine whether top prospects Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor are Major League material.
Durbin signs: According to reports, the Phillies have avoided arbitration with reliever Chad Durbin and have agreed to a one-year, $1.635 million deal, leaving Ryan Howard as the lone arbitration-eligible player.