Jayson Werth trotted to center field and took his position almost every game this September, a decision still reverberating as the Nationals march through the offseason. They wanted to know if Werth could play center. They determined he can, and now the possibility colors their search for a center fielder, the complexion of their outfield and maybe even the starting point of uber-prospect Bryce Harper.
The Nationals are prepared to trade for a center fielder. But they do not feel forced to, in large part because of Werth’s experience this fall. And today, Werth sent word he would be plenty open to playing center field, or anywhere in the outfield, for that matter.
“Whatever number is by name on the lineup card, that’s where I’ll play,” Werth said in an e-mail. “I’m comfortable playing all three.”
In his career and last year in his first of seven seasons in Washington, Werth has predominantly played right field, which the Nationals consider his best position. Werth has started 97 games in center field in his career, including 17 last year. He was smooth, taking efficient routes to fly balls, and his arm would be one of the best among center fielders. As several scouts have pointed out, Werth’s offense would be valuable in center field, where power is often hard to come by compared to corner spots.
“He loves centerfield,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “He feels more comfortable there for some reason. But he’s a heck of a right fielder. I thought he did a good job in center field.”