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Washington Nationals introduce Jayson Werth, reveal that his contract has no-trade clause
The Nationals again heralded Werth's addition as a signpost for their progress. The news conference began at 1 p.m., and the mantra "Phase Two" was uttered before the clock struck 1:02. The Nationals believe signing Werth demarcates the focus on building solely through their farm system from emphasis on adding big-ticket free agents.
"We thought we were at a stage now, with the talent that's here and the talent that's coming next year, that there's enough here to make our move to the next level in free agency," Mark Lerner said. "We know that our window is getting ready to happen."
The rest of baseball has not shared the Nationals' enthusiasm for Werth's contract. The main criticism is the length; Werth will be 39 when the contract ends. Rizzo again deflected the criticism - "I sleep like a baby knowing we got Jayson Werth," he said.
Werth brushed aside worries about his longevity. He referenced his grandfather, Dick Schofield, who played 19 years in the majors, though he retired at 36.
"The more I play, the better I'm going to get," Werth said. "I feel like I'm really young in the game. I have no problem seeing myself maybe not playing as long as Jamie Moyer has, but definitely into my 40s."
In his first day in a Nationals uniform, Werth proved he won't shy from a challenge. In Philadelphia, Werth's old team re-introduced Cliff Lee in his own news conference. Lee revealed that he and Werth, who became close friends during their time together in 2009 with the Phillies, discussed signing with the same team this offseason.
"When he found out I was coming here," Lee said, "he wasn't the happiest person in the world."
The marriage between the Nationals and Werth is only beginning, and already Werth had shown why it happened. The Nationals chose Werth because they believe he can change their losing history. Werth chose the Nationals, aside from the $126 million, because he thinks it's possible.
"I've always been a big fan of an underdog," Werth said. "I'm coming to be a part of something much greater than you've seen in this city."