Surprise: Nationals net Werth

Outfielder takes big money to join doormat

Red Sox get Gonzalez

December 06, 2010|By Phil Rogers

ORLANDO, Fla. — Raise your hand if you saw this one coming.

Jayson Werth is leaving the powerful Phillies for the Nationals, taking the highest offer even though it came from a perennial doormat.

Agent Scott Boras got Werth the huge contract he was searching for — reportedly a seven-year, $126 million deal that topped offers from contenders, including the Red Sox, Tigers and Phillies. It's unclear how much more the Nationals bid than any other team, but the Red Sox's offer was reportedly only for four years.

Boras has done two huge contracts with the Nationals in the last 16 months, delivering first-round picks Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. But the Nationals were viewed as outside factors for proven talent, with their interest in Cliff Lee little more than a pipe dream.

Werth's signing at one point seemed like a horrible blow for the Red Sox, who were struggling to pull off a deal for Adrian Gonzalez. In the end it may have contributed to their agreeing to do a deal without having a long-term extension in place with Gonzalez.

According to SI.com, the Red Sox are encouraged enough about the prospects to sign Gonzalez that they have agreed to the trade with the Padres. The deal had been struck Saturday contingent on extending Gonzalez's contract, which ends after 2011.

According to sources, Gonzalez and his agent, Johnny Boggs, are seeking an eight-year, $160 million deal. He had shoulder surgery in November.

Open for business: The Yankees and Rangers appear to be in a two-team battle for Lee. But there are as many as eight teams interested in 2009 Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke, who is being put into play by the Royals.

The Blue Jays are among the teams that have been the most aggressive for Greinke. The Rangers are monitoring the situation and could make a major play if they fail to re-sign Lee.

"We're open to any move that makes our team better today and for the future," Royals GM Dayton Moore told the Kansas City Star. "It's the same with any player. If you get the right deal that makes sense, under those criteria, you're certainly motivated to move forward and execute some type of deal."

Greinke has remained silent on his situation, declining interview requests. But his agents have indicated through back channels that he is willing to go to any team, including the Yankees and Royals. He has two years left on a contract that will pay him $13.5 million per season in 2011 and '12.

The Royals envision a deal such as the one the Rangers made with the Braves for Mark Teixeira in 2007, landing shortstop Elvis Andrus and right-hander Neftali Feliz in the package. The Royals are most interested in catchers and shortstops this time, according to major league sources.

"For us, when you look at Zack Greinke, you need some immediate help at the major league level to help stabilize you, and you need future impact," Moore said. "It's a rare combination."

Called shot: Lance Berkman got his wish with the one-year, $8 million deal that is sending him to the Cardinals. It seems an unlikely destination given that Albert Pujols is the first baseman, but Berkman is confident he can play left field, and maybe even right field, on an every-day basis.

"It worked out how I wanted," Berkman said on a conference call. "I love the National League. I'm very familiar with the Central (Division). And I know enough of the guys over there to realize it's a real good situation."

Berkman played only 75 games in the outfield during the last five seasons with the Astros and Yankees, none since 2007, and had knee surgery after the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs this year. He said he is conditioning himself to be an outfielder and has dropped 13 pounds since ending the year at 225. He knows there are skeptics about his outfield play.

"That's going to be everybody's big question," Berkman said. "But whether I signed with the Cardinals or somebody else, I didn't want to limit myself to first base or DH. I know I can run around in the outfield. I don't foresee that as an issue."

progers@tribune.com

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