Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth will be eligible for free agency after the 2010 season. The 30-year-old's '09 season featured career-bests in plate appearances, home runs, RBIs, runs, and slugging percentage. He also qualifies as an above-average defensive right fielder. Werth signed a two-year, $10MM extension in January of '09.
Andy Martino of the Philadelphia Inquirer was part of the group questioning Werth about the future today. Asked if he sees himself as comparable to Jason Bay and Matt Holliday, Werth said he feels he's "a season away from something like that." Keep in mind that 2009 was the only time Werth reached 500 plate appearances in his seven-year career.
Werth says he's only had very preliminary talks with the Phillies about an extension. He wants to stay, and deferred to his agent when asked if he'd negotiate in-season. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. raised the topic a month ago, saying "there will be some difficult decisions down the road."
It seems feasible that Werth will exceed the three-year, $30MM range occupied by Raul Ibanez and Milton Bradley the previous offseason. Werth has advantages over both players, and given a strong 2010 he should be able to command four or five years at at least $12MM per.