A couple of days ago, ESPN's Jayson Stark reported the following on the negotiations between the Phillies and right fielder Jayson Werth:
"Here’s one Phillies source on the odds of his team finding a way to keep Jayson Werth: “No chance. None. Zero.” In the end, it might not even be the annual dollars that will force the Phillies to move on. It’s their unwillingness to go beyond three or four years for a player who will turn 32 next May."When Phillies GM Ruben Amaro caught wind of Stark's report, he apparently went ballistic:
“That’s unequivocally a false statement,” Amaro said. “That did not come from me and I would not express that.”Ok. I'm sure Amaro wouldn't express that he has no interest in retaining Werth--at least not publically. He's not stupid. I'm sure if he finds away to pawn Raul Ibanez and his $13M salary off on some poor soul (Brian Sabean anyone?), he'll make a real attempt for Werth. Until that happens, I don't expect for there to be any real movement on the Phillies end. Going into 2011, all of their starting outfield slots are filled. Ibanez will be in left, Victorino in center, and super prospect Dominic Brown will be in right. Unless the National League decides to unexpectedly adopt the DH rule, there's no place for Werth to play. They're not going to bench Ibanez, and they shouldn't stunt Brown's growth. He's ready to play in the big leagues, and he deserves the shot to show everyone what he can do.
I'm sure Amaro and the Phillies like Werth, but I've never gotten the impression that they liked him that much. I understand that. Werth is not a sexy player. He's one of those players that's great at nothing, but good at everything. Players like Werth tend to be undervalued league-wide. Factor in Werth's age, I can understand why an old school type of GM like Amaro would be apprehensive about signing a 32 year old corner outfielder with no exceptional strengths. I'm not saying he's right (because he's not). I'm just saying I understand his thought process.
Jayson Stark is a pretty well respected baseball writer with a history of having great sources, especially within the Philadelphia sports scene. While I take any trade and free agent rumors with a grain of salt, I'm much more likely to believe a guy like Stark than I am Amaro. It's not that Amaro isn't trustworthy. I'm sure he is. My reasoning is that Amaro has a vested interest in keeping all of his options open. Sometimes that includes withholding information from the public. Stark's only interest is in reporting the information.