12/5/10 – Jayson Werth

Other than the actual events that occur on the field during the regular season, my favorite time of the sports year is the Major League Baseball off-season. The wild rumors, the complicated trades, the ridiculous contracts…. I LOVE it. Even if it doesn’t involve the Phillies, I thrive on the annual ebb and flow of tidal player movement. However, there is one aspect of these games that usually leave me leaning over the side of the boat. What happened late this afternoon made me want to jump off.

Major League baseball is a game. I also understand that it is a business. There is a LOT of money to be made and no one can be blamed for wanting a big piece of that particular pie. It’s like anything else in life. We consistently work hard year after year for the prospect of getting properly compensated for our job well done. Some of us are lucky enough to be working hard at something we love… something that other people only can dream of. Sometimes that always doesn’t equal to a hefty paycheck at the end of the day.

Sometimes it does… very handsomely.


I have been playing music for the good part of 20 years. When I was a teenager in my first band, I could not imagine getting paid millions upon millions of dollars just to play drums. Someone was willing to pay someone like me to sit behind my kit and play music all day? An absolute dream. I love playing the drums so much. I have been willing to spend countless hours in dank rehearsal rooms, stuffy recording studios and empty venues for the sheer pleasure of writing and performing music. My compensation? Gas money and a few free beers. Also, and most importantly, the extreme satisfaction of being able to exhibit my craft to others around the world, something lots of people are completely envious of.  I could never put a price on that.

Before I would spend my days imagining opening up for U2 at a sold out Spectrum, my plans were centered around my skills in the outfield and how they would benefit the Phillies. Almost immediately, I realized there wasn’t going to be a snowball’s chance in hell that was going to happen. Still, that didn’t stop me going out on the field, wearing nasty polyester uniforms in stifling heat for teams that lost by a couple touchdowns, shagging fly ball after fly ball, and barely hitting over .200. Why? I adored it. It’s a glorious game that still continues to bring me incredible satisfaction. And like the drums, I could not imagine being so incredible at your craft that someone would be willing to lay out a significant amount of money for your talents.

The minimum salary imposed by the Major League Baseball Player’s Association is $400,000 a year. Four hundred thousand dollars… to play baseball. Four hundred thousand dollars to travel the country and play a child’s game in front of tens of thousands of fans every single night. Where do I sign up? Hell, you could give me minimum wage and I’ll still be first in line to enroll.

In 2010, Phillies rightfielder Jayson Werth earned $7.5 million. In his four years with the club, he earned just over $12 million. In those four years, he also went to the postseason four times, twice to the World Series, and once, able to call himself a World Champion. He was an all-star on and off the field. He was THE rock star of the Phillies. Women loved him and guys wanted to be him. This off-season saw Werth become a free agent, and with his exemplary play, was due to earn a new and healthier contract. A lot of teams were very interested in his services, including the Phillies who wanted him to return. The Phillies were most likely not able to dole out the amount of money some other clubs could, but with the extremely positive state of the Phillies as it currently stands, one would think that any reasonably compensating contract would be completely satisfactory.

But, as any baseball fan knows, this scenario usually does not come out on the right side for a club like the Phillies, no matter who they are. Today was no different.

Today, Werth did not sign with the Red Sox. Not the Yankees. Not the Tigers. Not the Angels. Not even the Phillies. Instead, in a deal that came completely out of leftfield (or rightfield as it may), Werth signed an incredible 7-year, $126 million deal with perennial National League East basement-dwellers, the Washington Nationals. That’s $18 million a year to play for a team that will most likely not be sniffing at postseason play for a good number of years. Yes, they have Ryan Zimmerman. Yes, they have Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper waiting to burst on to the scene (again for Strasburg). But at this point, this team is still trying to build any sort of foundation. There is no logical reason for a player to give up a situation like he had in Philadelphia for the one in D.C.. Sure, we do not know if there were any personal issues that would want to make him leave Philadelphia. We may not know the whole story, but it was no secret that he and his super agent Scott Boras were going for the gold. The Phillies were willing to give it up. As were the Red Sox. The Nationals gave him just a bit more… a few more years and a few more millions.

That’s all that mattered to him.


As it has been for the last 20 or so years, a large number of people have paid a good sum of money for a single five-day trip to Florida for the rare privilege of getting a very small taste of what it’s like to live the life of a Major Leaguer. Even though there is an exact dollar amount associated with this camp, I know for a fact that my experience will be completely priceless. This is chance for me to live out a dream that I have been having since my childhood… the same dream that players like Werth also had, but now are actually living it out, playing a game and getting to showcase his talents to the delight of millions of fans, all while achieving the ultimate reward in being called the best in baseball.

That’s all that should matter to him.

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