Sunday, April 20, 2014
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Werth hires Boras. What's the bigger picture?

Hours after hitting a walk-off home run to cap an incredible comeback by the Phillies, Jayson Werth hired Scott Boras as his new agent, a source confirmed.

Werth hires Boras. What's the bigger picture?

Jayson Werth hit a walk-off two-run home run yesterday and then signed with Scott Boras. (AP Photo / Matt Slocum)
Jayson Werth hit a walk-off two-run home run yesterday and then signed with Scott Boras. (AP Photo / Matt Slocum)

Hours after hitting a walk-off home run to cap an incredible comeback by the Phillies, Jayson Werth hired Scott Boras as his new agent, a source confirmed.

CSNPhilly.com was the first to report the move late Sunday night. Boras has not returned messages for comment. Werth has yet to file paperwork with the Players' Association to make the move official.

Of course, Boras' name needs little explanation. The superagent has negotiated some of the wealthiest deals in baseball history. In Philadelphia, he will forever be known for the J.D. Drew saga.

This time, Boras might actually be helping the Phillies. We'll explain later.

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Werth began shopping for a new agent earlier in the season when he fired Jeff Borris of Beverly Hills Sports Council. The 31-year-old outfielder figures to be a top commodity on the free-agent market along with Tampa Bay outfielder Carl Crawford.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has never ruled out re-signing Werth but the two sides have had few negotiations, especially with Werth changing representation.

"Doesn't mean anything to me," Amaro said last week about Werth's agent shopping. "That's his issue. I don't have any problems with agents."

But the hiring of Boras will have a great effect on how the Phillies approach the Werth situation -- and this goes beyond whether they can sign him or not.

Because really, the Phillies face a near impossibility in signing Werth. The 2011 payroll already is approaching $150 million and that is with money committed to just 16 players.

Werth is likely due a massive deal on the market. He is posting career-high numbers in batting average and OPS. He leads the Phillies in slugging percentage.

"It will play itself out in the off-season," Amaro said last week.

So back to how Boras can help: With him in the fold, the Phillies are even more likely to offer Werth arbitration. Even before Boras entered the picture, this was a move the Phillies were likely to make. Now, it's a no-brainer.

Why does this matter? Werth will be a Type A free agent. If the Phillies offer arbitration and another team signs Werth, the Phillies will receive two compensatory draft picks, including a first-rounder from the team that signs Werth.

But there is occasional risk in offering arbitration. If Boras and Werth decide there isn't a team willing to offer the multi-year deal they will seek, they could accept the Phillies' offer for arbitration on a one-year deal. Boras could make that a very lucrative one-year deal through arbitration. Then, the Phillies would either have to make the expanded payroll work -- or more likely trade Werth away.

That's a hard scenario to envision. There appears to be a substantial market for Werth.

Generally, Boras clients have rejected arbitration offers with the hopes of landing a multi-year deal on the market. And generally, that has worked out.

The Phillies have had limited dealings with Boras since the Drew incident in 1997.

One case shows Boras' willingness to avoid accepting arbitration. Following the 2003 season, Kevin Millwood was a free agent and Boras initially rejected a three-year, $30 million deal from the Phillies, saying there were longer and more lucrative deals for Millwood on the market. Eventually, Millwood accepted arbitration and signed a one-year deal for $11 million.

Other than Werth, Ryan Madson is the lone player currently on the Phillies roster represented by Boras. He negotiated a three-year, $12 million deal for Madson before the 2009 season began.

The team tried to re-sign a Boras client, Kyle Lohse, following the 2007 season. The Phillies offered as three-year deal around $21 million. Boras rejected it. Lohse ended up signing with St. Louis for a one-year deal worth $4.25 million.

They battled with Boras in arbitration over Travis Lee's salary in the 2001 off-season. Boras lost that case. He was seeking $1.6 million. Lee was awarded $800,000.

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The place for up-to-the-minute Phillies coverage from The Inquirer beat writer Matt Gelb and columnist Bob Brookover.

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