How Jayson Werth nearly became a Padre …
While watching Jayson Werth of the Phillies in the All-Star Game on Tuesday and it got me to thinking about how the outfielder might have looked in a Padres uniform.
No, it wasn’t the heat here in San Diego that was making me delusional.
Actually, Werth almost became a Padre.
In December of 2006 the Padres, coming off a National League West title, were looking to replace left fielder Dave Roberts, who signed a deal with San Francisco earlier in the month.
San Diego general manager Kevin Towers, having watched Werth while he was with the Dodgers and even going back further to when he saw Werth as a catcher – people forget that he drafted by the Orioles as a catcher in 1997.
“We actually tried to sign him before he went to the Phillies, but [Philadelphia GM Pat] Gillick beat me to him.”
Werth would go on to sign an undervalued, one-year deal for $850,000. Werth enjoyed a breakout season a year ago for the World Champions, hitting .273 with 24 home runs, 67 RBI and 20 steals.
This season, Werth is hitting .263 with 20 home runs and 56 RBI with 12 steals for the Phillies.
“I remember seeing him as an amateur catcher and thinking what a good athlete that he was … I’m shocked he’s become the outfielder he’s become,” Towers said. “Not many guys go from catcher to an above average defender in the outfield.
“He runs well, there’s enough power in the bat. We does everything well. He’s the type of guy who can really hurt you.”
The Padres, having failed to sign Werth, opened the 2007 with Terrmel Sledge in left field. He hit .210 and eventually had his contract sold to a team in Japan following the season.
Left field has more or less been a revolving door ever since. Signing Werth certainly would have been an upgrade to the offense but would have given the Padres much more flexibility in constructing their roster, as he can play all three outfield positions.
Maybe the team wouldn’t have picked up Brian Giles’ option? Maybe the team wouldn’t have sunk the money it did in Jim Edmonds, who lasted a month with the team in 2008? You can certainly play the what-if game a lot, but nonetheless, it’s food for thought.