Oct 14, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT
Age on Opening Day 2016: 36
How acquired: Free agent, Dec. 2010
MLB service time: 12 years, 102 days
2015 salary+bonuses: $21 million
Contract status: Signed for $21 million in 2016, $21 million in 2017, free agent in 2018
2015 stats: 88 G, 378 PA, 51 R, 73 H, 16 2B, 1 3B, 12 HR, 41 RBI, 1 SB, 38 BB, 84 SO, .221 AVG, .302 OBP, .384 SLG, .685 OPS, 2 E, -6.7 UZR, -1.6 WAR
2015 analysis: Jayson Werth was already behind the 8-ball when the season began, stuck on the DL while recovering from offseason right shoulder surgery. He pushed himself to return only one week in, and not surprisingly it took him plenty of time to get into full-season mode.
Then came another setback: A May 15 fastball from San Diego’s Odrisamer Despaigne that drilled Werth in the wrist and fractured it. It took 2 1/2 months to return from that injury, and once again it took even longer for Werth to get his swing together. On August 18, his batting average sat at a minuscule .184, his OPS at .531.
A surprising change of roles — up to the leadoff spot — temporarily turned Werth around, and for a couple of weeks he was as productive as any hitter in baseball. But that resurrection was short-lived. And by season’s end, Werth had posted his worst numbers since becoming a full-time big leaguer in 2004.
2016 outlook: From the day he signed his 7-year, $126 million contract, there has been one question looming over Werth: How many good years did he still have in him, and how many years would the Nationals still be paying him after he crossed that threshold? The events of this season certainly leave you wondering if that point of no return has finally come, but we won’t know for certain until we see him back on the field in 2016.
It’s possible Werth’s miserable 2015 was a direct result of injuries. But it would be foolish simply to assume that. He’s going to turn 37 in May, and his decline in power and range in the outfield in particular are a significant concern.
Werth has always been something of a unique ballplayer, a late bloomer who has defied conventions plenty of times during his career. If he can keep himself healthy, perhaps he does have a bounce-back season in him. The Nationals, though, need to start preparing for a fallback plan in case that isn’t the case and Werth’s best days indeed are behind him.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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