Jayson Werth thinks so. The right fielder arrived at spring training today, joining his new Washington Nationals teammates for the first time since signing a $126 million, seven-year contract in December. Even as reality sets in, and he has to actually play baseball for the Nats, Werth still seems to believe the Phillies could have retained his services, while simultaneously making a play for Cliff Lee. And is he taking a hack at Fightins management here? Via High Cheese:
“I think if they would have played it right they would have had us both. I mean, they traded Cliff away for prospects and then realized that was probably not what they should have done."
“They ended up paying him a lot more than they would have if they’d signed him the year before. Then we would have had him. Chances are if they had signed him before they traded him, it probably would have made it a little easier to sign me.”
So before the jump, Werth probably isn't saying anything too outrageous. The majority of fans and observers felt trading Lee was a mistake at the time. You could argue everything worked out just fine, or in fact better this way. You could argue they didn't win the World Series last season, and going outside the organization's philosophy to bring Lee back was telling. Either way, that's resolved now.
Werth's insistance all those shenanigans had a role to play in the Phillies' inability to have both players is a little harder to swallow.
First of all, keep in mind Cliff Lee took a lesser offer for the chance to don the red pinstripes again. Werth did the exact opposite, taking the largest offer on the table. It wasn't merely a question of money ether, it was years. Offers from both Philadelphia and Boston were reportedly comparable in average salary, but neither club was willing to give the 31-year-old seven years.
Now is he maybe suggesting had there been some inclanation Lee would be a Phillie in 2011, Werth would have been more receptive to a shorter deal? Oh, wait. Asked whether he was surprised by the signing, Werth responded:
“Not really. I had an inside edge.”
“I kind of knew it was always a possibility and I kind of felt it was going to be one or the other. At that point. When it wasn’t me, and what they were talking to me about in terms of years, it kind of made it seem like they were playing us off against each other a little bit.
In other words, the Phillies could have both Lee and Werth... had they simply caved to Werth's demands.
There is absolutely no indication from those remarks that the presence of Cliff would have made any impact in the number of years Jayson Werth asked for. Even if the Phils could have signed Lee for less back in 2009, a suspect claim to begin with, pure dollars and cents never really appeared to be at the heart of the issue in the first place.
It sounds like sour grapes from Werth as he gets set for a year of tedium in D.C., while Cliff Lee and the rest of the Phillies are once again being treated like rock stars, heading into another season where they are the clear National League favorites. Just don't tell him that.
“Hard feelings? No. It’s a business."
>> Werth: Phillies could have had me and Lee [High Cheese]