Jayson Werth joked when first asked what he thought about the big free agent news out of Philadelphia. "I missed that in Philly. What happened?" After the laughs died down, Werth asked what the first part of the reporter's question had been, the part that wasn't about Cliff Lee signing a 5-year/$120 million dollar deal to return to the Phillies and responded thoughtfully. Several hours after the 31-year-old outfielder appeared before the D.C. press corps in his introductory press conference at Nationals Park, the Phillies' big steal was in front of the press in the so-called city of brotherly love, fielding questions from reporters, one of whom asked what Werth thought of his decision to foresake the Yankees and Rangers and return to Philly.
As quoted on the Philadelphia Phillies' official Twitter (@Phillies) account, Lee responded, "When [Werth] found out I was coming here, he wasn't the happiest person in the world." The full text of Lee's quote is transcribed on Philly Sports Daily.com:
"Q. Cliff, did you talk to Jayson at all?
"Cliff Lee: 'Yeah. I don’t know if I can say exactly how that conversation went down here, to be honest with you. I know once we both got on the free agent market, we talked about trying to get on the same team. Obviously when he signed with the Nationals and I signed here, it didn’t happen. When he found out I was coming here, he wasn’t the happiest person in the world. I’ll put it that way (smiling).'"
Back on December 6th, in a Washington Post article by Adam Kilgore entitled, "Nationals' free agent signing of Jayson Werth makes many take notice of team", the WaPost writer had noted that even at that late date with the free agent left-hander's decision pending, "Lee hasn't completely ruled out Washington,":
"...especially after the Nationals signed Werth to the stunning contract. Lee played with and became close friends with Werth on the National League champion Phillies in 2009."
Werth was asked about Lee again toward the end of his D.C. press conference, hours before Lee revealed that there had been conversations between the friends. Phillies' GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. told the Philly press that he wasn't attempting to "slight" their former right fielder, but behind the scenes in the Philadelphia front offices, "...to a man we felt like this would have much more of an impact on our club moving forward because frankly I believe in pitching and defense winning championships. We’ve seen it over the last several years, that’s what wins World Series. If it comes down to a choice, frankly I’m pleased with the one we made."
Jayson Werth's fine with it too. "They got their boy back, I guess," Werth responded when asked if he felt he made the right decision considering how things worked out in Philadelphia, and if there was any resentment that they had the money for Lee, but not for him, "That’s fine. I think that’s good. I like that, "Werth said, "If you’re going to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. They make their plays, and we’re going to make ours. I think in the course of time, you’re going to see and people are going to see the Washington Nationals are for real. We’re going to play the style of baseball that is going to bring championships to this city."
The Phillies got their boy back. Werth got a no-trade clause. What? Though it hadn't been announced beforehand, Werth himself revealed the fact that he had a full no-trade clause that will allow him to veto or approve any trade the Nats might want to make during the next seven years the outfielder's under contract. The Nats' GM told Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore, as quoted in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "Jayson Werth has a full no-trade clause", that, "It was very difficult, one of the last sticking points that we had," while Werth, in the press conference cited it as one big reasons he signed, "The years were important to me, I have a chance to come to a city, guaranteed to be here for a long time. The no-trade was a big deal for me, I have a chance to set myself and my family up for years to come here and just have more of a solid base."