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Nats Following Redskins Blueprint?

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Do you know who this man is? The Washington Nationals just gave him the 16th-largest contract in the history of professional sports – 7 years, $126 million.

He’s Jayson Werth, an outfielder most recently with the Philadelphia Phillies. It’s not clear who the Nationals were bidding against – the Phillies offered about half of what the Nats did & there’s no indication any other team had significantly raised that bar. Jayson Stark reports, “The Nationals offer on Werth was so far above everyone else that Boras didn’t even ask other interested teams if they wanted to match it.”

While Werth has been one of the best all-around players in baseball the last few years, he’s already 31 & will turn 39 early in the final year of this mammoth contract. Baseball Prospectus, trying to project Werth’s 30s by looking at what similar players have done in the past, predicts he’ll be merely an average outfielder by the 4th year of the contract & a payroll-hogging albatross in the 6th & 7th years.

With the ink barely dry, the deal is already being mocked by other teams:

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson seemed to think Werth got the better end of the deal. “It makes some of our contracts look pretty good,” Alderson said. “That’s a long time and a lot of money. I thought they were trying to reduce the deficit in Washington.”

Nats GM Mike Rizzo says this move announces the team’s intention to contend for the playoffs next year. But considering the team just finished 28 games out of 1st place, is that remotely realistic? Even if we’re generous & say Werth is worth five extra wins, that means the Nats still lose 88 games next year. By the time Stephen Strasburg is healthy & top prospect Bryce Harper is in the majors, Werth could be on the downside of his career, injured, or both.

It looks like the Nats have wildly overpaid an aging star for his past performance on another team – a page right out of Dan Snyder’s playbook.

As a lifelong baseball fan who’d love nothing more than to see Washington’s baseball team go to the playoffs for the first time in 30 years, I sure hope I’m wrong.

  • The Question

    What is he WERTH?

    Get it?  Werth?

  • notlarrysabato

    “As a lifelong baseball fan who’d love nothing more than to see Washington’s baseball team go to the playoffs for the first time in 30 years, I sure hope I’m wrong.”

    Really?  Is that why you wear a Red Sox hat and tweet all summer about being at bars watching Red Sox games?  Now you want to see the Nats go to the playoffs?  

    You may be a friend politically, but you are no friend when it comes to D.C. sports teams!

  • JimWebster

    The Lerners are no Dan Snyder and this guy is no Haynesworth, he’s the real deal. He’s going to make 2011 more fun. We may not make the playoffs in 2011 but we’re sure on the way. Already glad to have re-upped season tix.

  • Catzmaw

    contract when they couldn’t scrape up 50 million and 4 years for younger Adam Dunn, Zimmerman’s wing man in what was developing into the most lethal hitting combination since Ramirez and Big Papi at their height in Boston?  It’s a mistake to make such a LONG term contract with Werth.  Even a great outfielder’s wheels start coming off the bus in his thirties.  Hope his bat stays intact.

  • Cool_Arrow

    This is an absolutely dumb contract. They pulled a Texas Rangers with Alex Rodriguez and bid against themselves. Why would you ever do that? Werth is a good player but he also had Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, etc. all in the lineup who would help him with RBIs and getting more pitches to hit. Unbelievably dumb contract.  

  • blue bronc

    Owners can be nuts. Dumb move, could have had at least two or three for this one. And, kept Dunn.

    Also, will he be around in 2012 when there is a pitching arm on the mound?

  • Steve Vaughan

    Bad contract. This is like when the Braves signed Gary Mathews to a huge contract coming off a mediocre year.

    If you look at Werth’s stats for the last two years, he’s already in decline. There’s no way a player of his ability is going to still be a contibutor in  his late 30s.