Phillies Nuggets: What if Jayson Werth had stayed in Philadelphia?

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

Jayson Werth went just 1-4 in the Washington Nationals 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies Monday evening. But the 38-year-old's complicated legacy often looms larger than the actual games being played between the two National League East rivals. 

Werth is finishing out his seventh season in the nation's capital, three more seasons than he spent with the Phillies. Though there isn't a unanimous feeling about him from Phillies fans, the majority of the fanbase will probably remember him more as the heel who left Philadelphia during the back half of the greatest run in franchise history to join a division rival. That sentiment is greatly devoid of context, but it's very prevalent. 

Werth may have been overshadowed by the likes of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins during his time with the team, but history will look back fondly on the contributions that he made during his four seasons in Philadelphia. Werth had two five-win seasons while with the Phillies, and a total WAR of 18.1 (per FanGraphs). He hit 95 regular season home runs, while driving in 300 runs. He was an effective fielder, and a versatile one at that. Perhaps most importantly, the team made the playoffs every season he was with them, winning two National League pennants and the 2008 World Series, while he became the franchise's all-time leader in playoff home runs.

Trending: Jayson Werth says he'll 'probably have game' when Phillies celebrate 10-year anniversary of 2008 title

It's strange to think now, but if Werth had re-signed with the Phillies after the 2010 season, he likely would be one of the more celebrated players in franchise history. Werth would not have had identical production to what he has had in D.C. if he stayed with the Phillies, but if we assume for the purposes of this exercise that his production would have been similar, he would have had a WAR over 30 and five seasons with a WAR of four or higher. If you combine his home run totals between Philadelphia and D.C., Werth would have just over 200 home runs with the Phillies now, which would put him on the cusp of top 10 in franchise history. He likely would have been part of one more playoff team, one that would have had a serious chance to win a World Series. 

The conclusion that you are left with is that instead of being one of the bigger villains in the history of the team, Werth would probably be a lock to be a Wall of Famer. Chances are that after 2013 or 2014, both of which were strong seasons for Werth, the team would have traded him to a contender. If not, he would have ended up being the last Phillie from the 2008 team still with the club and likely would have gotten some sort of farewell weekend. 

What else would have been different? Probably quite a bit.

It's nearly certain that if the Phillies re-signed Werth after 2010, they wouldn't have been able to also sign free-agent Cliff Lee to a five-year/$120 million contract. That would have made the 2011 regular season less magical and they may not have won a franchise-record 102 games. That said, while many believe pitching wins in the playoffs, the Phillies offense is what failed them in Game 5 of the NLDS. In Game 2, their offense spotted Lee a four-run lead, only for him to give it back to the Cardinals in a game the Phillies eventually lost. Had they won that game, they would have swept the eventual World Series champions. 

Related: Jayson Werth told reporter during 2010 season that he wasn't going to re-sign with Phillies

But hindsight is 20/20. Werth wasn't especially good in 2011 and was injured for much of 2012. Lee was extremely effective for the first three years of his deal, even if injuries prematurely ended his career. It's hard to argue with signing Lee, one of the few true No. 1 pitchers in the game at the time, as opposed to Werth, who plays a more replaceable position. 

It is also interesting to think how re-signing Werth may have affected future transactions, such as re-signing Jimmy Rollins to a three-year/$33 million deal after 2011, re-signing Chase Utley to a two-year/$27 million extension during the 2013 season and re-signing Carlos Ruiz to a three-year/$26 million deal after the 2013 season. Certainly, the team wouldn't have traded for Hunter Pence during the 2011 season, which also means Tommy Joseph wouldn't currently be in the organization. 

In D.C., Werth has managed to get the best of both worlds. By the end of this season, he will have made $126 million with the Nationals, a number he wouldn't have sniffed if he re-signed with the Phillies. He's also headed to the playoffs for the fourth time in his seven seasons with the Nationals, while the Phillies haven't played in the postseason since 2011. It's fairly safe to say he doesn't sit awake at night regretting his decision to leave the Phillies.  

The Nuggets

  • There was a point during the 2017 season that it felt like the Phillies may have to make a change at manager at the end of the season. However, with an infusion of young talent, the Phillies have been a respectable 33-37 since the All-Star Break. Despite Pete Mackanin saying prior to yesterday's game that he's not sure he'll be back in 2018, it would be pretty surprising for the Phillies to make a change after they weathered the storm this summer. 
  • In June, when it felt like perhaps Mackanin wouldn't be back for his third full season as manager, I examined some potential names who could be the team's next manager. These names could be in play if Matt Klentak does decide to make a change at manager. 
  • For what it's worth, if you take out the Phillies 6-22 month of May, they have a 56-73 record. Not quite as ugly as the 62-95 record they have on the season. 
  • Edubray Ramos has a 1.93 ERA this month, which is very encouraging when you consider that he's always had the stuff to be an elite reliever. My guess it that if someone currently on the team is closing games to open up 2018, it will probably be him. 
  • The Phillies (-109) actually have a better run differential than the New York Mets (-123).
  • Yesterday, I examined why if the Phillies make a major trade in the near future, it probably shouldn't be for an outfielder. 
  • Last offseason, counted down the top-25 Phillies of all-time. This offseason, we have an even more exciting top-25 countdown pertaining to the Phillies. Stay tuned, details will be announced soon. 
Go to top button