It wasn’t a surprise that Jayson Werth went to the highest bidder. The surprise is that bidder ended up being the Washington Nationals. The other surprise would be the size of the contract. Any doubts about the ability of Scott Boras as an agent should be put to rest with Werth’s 7-year, 126 million dollar deal. Every baseball analyst, GM, and most baseball people will tell you the Nationals grossly overpaid Werth, but for a team like Washington to get a top-level free agent, they have to sweeten the pot with years and dollars. The impacts…
First, the gigantic contract gets the Phillies off the hook somewhat. No one will look at this number and think the Phillies should have matched. The Yankees wouldn’t have. The Angels wouldn’t have. So, the Phils who probably would have capped out around 4 years/64 or something along those lines don’t have to be criticized for being cheap. Most Phillies fans will look at this dollar amount, realize Werth doesn’t merit the price, and say, “it was fun.” Of course, there is still the right-handed hole in the lineup and in right field. It’s so thin out there, people are talking themselves into Matt Diaz.
Secondly, the deal should be a windfall for Carl Crawford. Crawford now sits as the premier position player on the market, and the bar has been set obscenely high. Any club in the mix for Crawford must be furious with the Nationals for setting the market at not only 126 million, but seven years. Apparently Werth had another offer for 18 million a year that didn’t stretch for seven years. So, if that is the case, expect Crawford to have at least a couple of suitors in that neighborhood.
Lastly, there are plenty of ways the Nationals can defend the deal. It’s the plight of a second-tier club that they can’t get a free agent at market value. All things equal, Werth probably isn’t going to Washington. They also are in dire need of credibility. With Adam Dunn leaving, the team still has some young talent, but not a recognizable face, at least until Strasburg returns in 2012. Ryan Zimmerman is still the Nationals best player, but adding Werth in this way makes the Nats, at least for the time being, something more than afterthoughts in the NL East.
In some ways, it is similar to the Phillies signing of Jim Thome. The Phillies were still years away when they signed Thome for huge money, but it at least showed the fans they were serious and gave the club some instant credibility. By the time everything came together here, Thome was gone. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same thing happen in Washington. If Washington is a contender in 3-4 years, there is a decent chance Werth will have moved on by then, especially if he can’t maintain his full range of skills into his mid-thirties.
The Red Sox are apparently on the verge of locking up Adrian Gonzalez in a trade with San Diego. The Red Sox let Victor Martinez walk, their fans were about to revolt if they signed Werth, and so a deal for Gonzalez makes a lot of sense. They’ve been coveting San Diego’s first baseman for years, and it seems like they will finally pry him free for a few prospects. Tough deal for Padres’ fans to swallow. A year after just missing the playoffs they lose their only middle of the lineup player. I guess San Diego didn’t think one more run with Gonzalez was worth losing him for just draft picks. In Boston, if Gonzalez is paired with another addition, say Crawford, then the Sox lineup becomes suddenly formidable, perhaps its most dangerous since Manny was in town and happy.
Big sigh of relief from the everything’s all right department with Jeter returning to New York. I’d say the Yankees probably overpaid Jeter more than the Nationals overpaid Werth(in terms of dollars)…but what else were they going to do? Jeter moved significantly off his demands, and after hearing that he was asking for a deal into his forties, the three years doesn’t seem so bad for NY. Now, it’s on Derek to return to form. One bounce back year, and no one will think again about this contract. And, with everyone in-house taken care of, the Yankees can now focus on Cliff Lee.
Pat Burrell takes peanuts in San Francisco. Guess he likes that “Machine” costume.
Pat Gillick elected to the Hall of Fame. He won’t be taking Ruben Amaro Jr. along for this ride.