From hotstove.com, a shocking (and almost unbelievable) report:
Heard this from a major league exec: The Phillies are evaluating the trade market for outfielder Jayson Werth. Was told he's the best bat that could be dealt by July 31st. Surprised me to hear it. Werth's right-handed bat seems crucial to the left-leaning Phils. But Werth has said he will explore free agency this offseason, and the Phillies could replace him now with prospect Domonic Brown, a left-handed hitter. Recent injuries to hitters Placido Polanco and Chase Utley would argue against the Phils dealing Werth, who certainly would attract interest.
I won't attach a great deal of credibility to this rumor, which does seem pretty far-fetched. But it does serve to remind us why you don't give Raul Ibanez a three-year, $31.5 million contract, doesn't it?
If the Phillies didn't have Ibanez -- who was really good last year, really not so good this year, and is owed $11.5 million next year -- I don't think they would even consider trading Werth, because there wouldn't be any reason to. Without Ibanez, they would have a slot available for Brown and they would have some extra cash in the till, which they could have used to 1) retain Cliff Lee this season, 2) lock up Werth for a few years, or 3) both.
Look, the Phillies did win last year and Ibanez was a big part of that. They might yet win this year, and he might yet be a big part of that. But there's always a cost, particularly with players in their late 30s. And I think plenty of teams still don't quite know how to weigh those costs before doling out the big contracts.