CHICAGO -- Jayson Werth has allowed himself to be reflective as he nears the end of the lucrative contract he signed before the start of the 2011 season. The veteran outfielder takes great pride in the fact he has significantly impacted the culture of a Nationals organization that has adopted
CHICAGO -- Jayson Werth has allowed himself to be reflective as he nears the end of the lucrative contract he signed before the start of the 2011 season. The veteran outfielder takes great pride in the fact he has significantly impacted the culture of a Nationals organization that has adopted him as a beloved son and captured four division titles with his assistance.
Werth has thoroughly enjoyed the ride and would likely do it all over again if given the chance. But before fully evaluating what his seven-year, $126 million contract has meant to him, he wants to take advantage of one more opportunity to help deliver the World Series title he envisioned winning when he signed with the Nationals.
"I came here to win," Werth said. "I'm sure the farther I get away from it, regardless of what happens, I guess the more successful I'll see [my time with Washington]. But at the same time, with the opportunity still at hand, it won't be a success unless we win."
Werth's bid to win a World Series will resume today, when the Nationals battle the Cubs in Game 3 of the National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile. Washington needs to win two of the next three games to advance to the NL Championship Series for the first time in franchise history.
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"I brought him here to shape us as a championship-caliber franchise," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. "Slowly, we've kind of morphed into a very professional organization. We have a protocol and a process. He has been an instrumental factor in getting us where we're at."
When Werth agreed to his contract during MLB's 2010 Winter Meetings, there was reason to question whether he'd find happiness as he left a Phillies organization that had just won its fourth straight division title and joined a Nationals franchise that had finished last in the National League East at the conclusion of six of the past seven seasons.
Werth has not always played at a star level since joining Washington. But with a no-nonsense professional approach, he has helped mold the likes of Bryce Harper and in the process instilled some of the professionalism he gained while playing alongside Chase Utley and the other Phillies teammates with whom he won a World Series with in 2008. He's also become a huge fan favorite.
Among the players on the Nationals' NLDS roster, Werth and former Phillies reliever Ryan Madson are the only ones to have won a World Series ring. Daniel Murphy stands as the only other position player on the active roster to have even played in the Fall Classic.
"I'm proud of what this organization has become," Werth said. "It's a first-class organization from top to bottom. It's a destination now for free agents. I kind of led the way for that. Regardless of how this thing ends, I'll leave this organization in a better state than when I arrived. There's a lot to be proud of."
Werth hasn't produced elite numbers over any of the past three years and after thriving through this season's first six weeks, he has struggled, partly because of the lingering effects of the nearly three-month disabled list stint he experienced after a foul ball fractured his foot on June 3.
Still, manager Dusty Baker has stuck with Werth, who has gone hitless through the first two games of the NLDS. This might have something to do with the belief that Howie Kendrick is the better bench option. But for the most part, Baker is simply sticking with his team's leader with the hope that Werth is still capable of adding to the lasting memories he's gained while wearing a Nationals uniform.
"I think we got everything we intended to get out of the Jayson Werth signing," Rizzo said. "He fulfilled everything he promised us when we were talking to him [about the deal]. I think on the other hand, we've done everything we promised to do when we recruited him."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.