It was announced on Sunday evening (to quite a bit of dismay) that the Nationals had signed free agent outfielder Jayson Werth to a free agent contract. The dismay came with the terms of said contract: 7 years, $126 million. I will be attempting to discuss the impacts of this without knowing that Carl Crawford has already signed (and for how much he received).
From the Nationals Perspective
They came out and said that they needed to overpay to get a top flight free agent like Werth to consider a team with so little of a chance of making the playoffs anytime soon. But they felt that they needed to start bringing in marquee players to go with the young core that they are developing. Werth will slot into right field for the Nationals for at least the next couple of seasons, and could possibly move to left field when top prospect Bryce Harper is ready for the show.
I do find the argument that they had to overpay a bit unusual, as the part that seems to have been an overpayment is not the dollars per year, as much as the years themselves. But I also think that it definitely sends a signal to the rest of the league that the Nationals are not happy with being the laughingstock of the National League.
From the Phillies Perspective
There was simply no way that the Phillies were ever going to match an offer as ridiculously large as that for Werth. They have Domonic Brown in AAA, who will most likely be the everyday right fielder for the team before the end of 2011, and at practically no cost in comparison. The Phillies will receive draft picks as compensation, but the Nationals’ first rounder is protected, so they will receive a sandwich pick and the Nationals’ second rounder.
I didn’t really go into the impact that the signing has on the market, as I think that his signing has a similar effect to the Carl Crawford signing. That said, I am unbelievably amazed that the Nationals gave out such a long and lucrative contract. Werth is 31 years old, and has only had 500+ at bats in 2 seasons. I think that this is the type of contract that could really cause the Nationals some problems if he does not play well throughout the length of it. That said, I never fault the player for taking the money. $126 million is a lot of money. A LOT OF MONEY.
The funny thing that seemed to be noted pretty early on was that the last two contracts of that length and dollar amount exactly have not exactly gone the way their teams had hoped. Those contracts? Barry Zito from the Giants, and Vernon Wells from the Blue Jays.