Werth the Extension

Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr has had his hands full this offseason. Not a ton has been done with regards to the free agent market, but seemingly half the team was eligible for arbitration this year and only one player, Ryan Howard, may actually go to court. Amaro managed to settle with the likes of Joe Blanton, Shane Victorino, Chad Durbin, Eric Bruntlett, and Clay Condrey. He also signed Greg Dobbs, Cole Hamels, and Ryan Madson to contract extensions.

The most recent player to sign such an extension was Jayson Werth, a rightfielder who soared under the radar to produce a +4.7 win season in 2008.

Now, some of Werth’s worth may have been inflated due to facing predominantly lefthanded pitching to start the season. He feasts on lefties (as evidenced by his MLB-leading 16 HR against southpaws) and didn’t have to face righties while platooning with Geoff Jenkins. Had he faced righties more often, his value may have diminished a bit. No matter how you slice it, though, he was one of the most valuable Phillies last season, combining 20 HR/20 SB offense with a +16 UZR rating.

The 2-yr deal will pay Werth $10 mil. He will earn $3 mil in 2009, a third of which comes as a signing bonus. The remaining $7 mil will become his salary in 2010. With the signing, both sides were able to avoid arbitration, where their figures differed by only $1 mil — $4 mil from Werth, $3 mil from the team. The deal buys out his final arbitration year as well as his first free agent season.

Next season, Werth projects to about +15 runs with the bat and +8 in the field. He will be the full-time starter meaning his adjustments for value above replacement and position will rise. Assuming 140 GP and 600 PA, Werth projects to +3.6 wins. At fair market value, that is $16.2 mil. Since he was eligible for arbitration, however, the 40/60/80 modifier comes into play. Even if we took 20% of his fair market value, $3.2 mil, the Phillies still walk away as big winners here.

At around +3.2 wins in 2010, assuming a slight decline, Werth’s fair market value would command around $15 mil. The Phillies have a player likely to produce close to +7 wins and $31 mil for one-third of the price.

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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.