Dec 6, 2010, 5:28 PM EDT
Responding to the negative reaction around baseball to the Jayson Werth contract: “There’s no negative reaction from me. I’m satisfied with the deal. I’m glad we got Jayson Werth. I can understand some of the comments. We’re taking care of ourselves. We’re trying to build something special here. We thought this player exemplified what we were trying to do. I don’t apologize for signing Jayson Werth. I’m glad we have him in the fold. We’re a better ballclub today than we were yesterday.”
On what happens once Bryce Harper is ready to take over in right field: “There’s plenty of outfield spots for Bryce Harper to play and Jayson Werth. The good thing about Jayson is he does have versatility. Certainly, at the beginning of this contract, he can play center field if we need him to. And Bryce Harper, his athletic ability, he can play anywhere on the field, also. Down the road, we hope we have that problem in the very near future, where we have to decide where Bryce Harper is going to move Jayson Werth to. We’ll be better for it.”
Could Werth wind up at first base way down the road? “I’ll put it this way: I see Jayson Werth towards the end of this contract being able to play one of the corner outfield positions. He’s a terrific athlete. Keeps himself in great physical condition. From some of the left fielders I’ve seen, in the American League and the National League, this guy certainly, at 38 years old, can play left field for me in this league.”
If you can’t acquire a starter, would you look to get a reliever? “We’re looking to improve our rotation for sure. If that’s not available, then we’d certainly like to bolster our bullpen. First and foremost, we’re still actively seeking starting pitching help. We’re going to construct the team with that mind. If that doesn’t become available, then we’ll turn to strengthen other parts of the ballclub.”
Are you surprised at how much other GMs are asking for in exchange for a pitcher? “I wouldn’t say surprised. Good, young front-of-the-rotation starting pitching is hard to get. It’s hard for you to get it through your own system, and once you have it, to get rid of it you’re going to have to improve yourself, not only by talent, but by numbers of players gotten in return. It hasn’t surprised me one bit. I think that the young starting pitching is such a premium now, you’re going to have to really give to get.”
Have you met with Cliff Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker, here in Florida? “I have spoken to his agent. Here, yes.”
How much has Jesus Flores been playing lately and will he be 100 percent for the start of spring training? “We believe that he’ll be 100 percent full-go at the beginning of spring training. He’s playing regularly in Venezuela. They often split time with catchers in Venezuela. But he’s playing regularly.”
Will Danny Espinosa be 100 percent for start of spring training? “He’ll be ready, the first day of spring training, ready to go, 100 percent.”
Any chance of carrying three catchers? “I’m not going to put anything in stone, but I think it would be unlikely for us to carry three catchers.”
UPDATE AT 7:18 P.M. — My profound apologies. I thought I had included Rizzo’s quotes about the possibility of a Josh Willingham trade, but I just realized I left those out for some reason. Here’s what Rizzo had to say on that subject…
How do you balance what you might get for Willingham vs. having him on your team for another year? “The easier part of that question is: We know what we have with Josh Willingham. We know what his productivity is. We know what he brings to us on the field and in the clubhouse. So we have to weigh that against: What would we get if we were to trade the player? It’s an open-ended question, but that’s always the question you have to ask yourself.”
Does the Werth signing make the prospect of trading Willingham more palatable? “What it does is, you know that right field is spoken for. You don’t have to worry about that. There’s no platoon situation out there. There’s no question. You’ve got your right fielder. I guess with the addition of an outfielder, it would make another outfielder a little bit more comfortable to move, if you get the right deal. But Josh Willingham is not just any outfielder. He’s a good, productive player, and a guy that we’re going to have to get the right deal in return to move him.”
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