Former Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth pled guilty last week to driving under the influence in the Scottsdale area. The arrest occurred in April, when Werth was playing at the Mariners’ spring training facility in nearby Peoria. The court sentenced Werth to a diversion program, ordered drug and alcohol screening, charged him more than $1,600 in fines and fees, and suspended his driver’s license.
At the time of his arrest, police reported Werth for three violations: Driving Under the Influence of liquor, drugs, or vapors (a charge applied to someone driving “while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, a vapor releasing substance containing a toxic substance or any combination of liquor, drugs or vapor releasing substances if the person is impaired to the slightest degree”), DUI with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more, and driving without current registration. The second two charges were dropped as part of Werth’s plea agreement.
Neither he nor his attorney responded to messages seeking comment on the April charges, which he incurred about two months before he retired, ending his attempt to climb back to the big leagues. Werth never got a call-up despite seeming close at times, something he explained to reporters as the product of a poorly timed hamstring injury. The Mariners said his arrest did not influence the duration of his stay in the minors.
“We were aware of the situation at the time and took it very seriously. Jayson was forthright with our minor league staff about exactly what occurred,” the Mariners said, through a team spokesman. “We encourage all of our players to cooperate fully with the proper authorities, which is what Jayson did. This was an off-field incident that was handled in the legal system. All of our decisions regarding Jayson’s playing status were based on on-field information.”
Earlier this month, the Nationals inducted Werth into their Ring of Honor with a tribute-filled ceremony at Nationals Park. The Nationals were not aware of the charges against Werth at the time, according to a team spokeswoman, and had no additional comment. In January 2015, Werth pled guilty to reckless driving after he was cited for going 105 miles per hour in a 55-mph zone of the Beltway in Virginia. He served 10 days in jail for those charges.
Many people within the Nationals organization credit Werth, the first major free-agent signing in Nationals history, as one of the engineers behind their transformation into an annual contender. A mentor to Bryce Harper and the undisputed leader of their clubhouse throughout his tenure, Werth became the first long-time National inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor during that well-attended ceremony last week.
The 39-year-old still makes a home in the D.C. area with his family, while also being involved in the organic farming business in his home state of Illinois.
Julie Tate contributed to this report.