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What does Werth’s $126 million do to the market?

Dec 5, 2010, 8:29 PM EDT

stack of money

The Hot Stove is roaring after the Nationals shattered expectations by giving Jayson Werth a seven-year, $126 million deal that matches Vernon Wells’ Blue Jays pact for the third biggest ever given to an outfielder. Only Manny Ramirez, guaranteed $160 million by the Red Sox, and Alfonso Soriano, $136 million from the Cubs, ever received more.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Werth’s deal has “stunned people in the game” and “execs are going nuts about the terms.”

He adds that the last contract to generate the same kind of furor was Kevin Brown’s seven-year, $105 million deal with the Dodgers signed way back in 1998.

We’re guessing that’s hyperbole, but this is the kind of thing that can happens when a down-and-out team needs to make a splash. It brings to mind the Tigers spending $40 million on Ivan Rodriguez in 2004 and $75 million on Magglio Ordonez the following winter.

But Werth is hardly the first player to exceed expectations this winter. John Buck, who received a $2 million deal last winter, got three years and $18 million from the Marlins. Setup man Joaquin Benoit received a three-year, $16.5 million contract from the Tigers. Juan Uribe, who certainly wasn’t offered any multiyear contracts as a free agent both of the previous two wints, received $21 million over three years from the Dodgers.

So, Carl Crawford and Cliff Lee have to be licking their lips. The Angels and Red Sox can claim all they want that the Nationals overpaid for Werth because of their situation, but Crawford is the better bet of the two going forward and he has a great argument for an eight-year deal now. Lee would certainly seem to be worth $23 million per year in this climate.

It may not happen this week, but odds are that Werth’s megadeal is going to be topped at least twice in the near future and probably again in the spring in a Red Sox extension with Adrian Gonzalez.

  1. ultimatecardinalwarrior - Dec 5, 2010 at 9:00 PM

    Great. The Cardinals are gonna have to offer at least $25 mil, probably closer to $30 mil a year for Pujols for an ungodly amount of time. This is great.

    • ngearhart1981 - Dec 5, 2010 at 11:19 PM

      1 – Pujols was getting that much anyway. No way Werth’s payday affects that of a player twice as valuable.
      2 – What do you care anyway, it isn’t your money.

  2. crankyfrankie - Dec 5, 2010 at 9:11 PM

    Don’t worry Cardinals fans you can sign Fielder after the Red Sox sign Pujols.t

  3. proudlycanadian - Dec 5, 2010 at 9:11 PM

    The Nationals will regret this. The terms that come to mind are “The greater fool theory” and “A fool and his money are soon parted”. It will just not work. Werth is not worth it. His skills are barely above average.

  4. Jonny 5 - Dec 5, 2010 at 9:23 PM

    Well, at least Philly didn’t feel compelled to beat that….

    And now the Phills have a pretty lame OF…. What’s next? I still can’t believe the Nats landed Werth. This must be a dream. I’m wandering to bed now, maybe this is just a crappy dream??? It’ll all be normal in the morning..

  5. schmedley69 - Dec 5, 2010 at 9:25 PM

    That’s a lot of money for a guy who has never driven in 100 runs in a season. Insane.

    • rover27 - Dec 5, 2010 at 11:44 PM

      It’s as bad as the horrific Mauer contract the Twins gave to a player that averages 9 home runs and 75 RBIs a year.

      • concretepiggy - Dec 6, 2010 at 10:57 AM

        Aye, not like he provides fantastic offense at a premium position. RBIs AND HOMERS MATTER HUGE!

  6. Old Gator - Dec 5, 2010 at 9:26 PM

    I have to agree with my boreal buddy on this one. Insane deal. I understand what the Gnats are trying to do – “respectability” at any price. But they probably just achieved that same sort of “respectability” that the Rangers did when they hamstrung themselves for years with their deal for A-Rod. If Werth were going to be the missing piece that put the team over the top in the short run, it would still have been a gross overpayment because another player at or just below his skill level probably could have been had for a lot less. The Gnats better hope their superstud baby pitcher was properly repaired and/or that Bryce Harper doesn’t turn out to be a splash in the triple-A pond.

    On the bright side, this ought to shut Ryan Zimmerman up toot sweet.

    • proudlycanadian - Dec 5, 2010 at 9:48 PM

      Boreal Buddy? Have a Molson’s on me. I will not be able to join you in a toast, as I am about to go to a late night party.

  7. JBerardi - Dec 5, 2010 at 11:37 PM

    I’m not getting the economic logic here. One team overpaid for one guy. So what? Teams are still free to offer whatever they want to the remaining players.

  8. apbaguy - Dec 6, 2010 at 12:19 AM

    I recalled the Mike Hampton deal, but thanks to this blog, the nightmare of A-Rod’s original deal, Vernon Wells’ deal, and Soriano’s deal with the Cubs, are all brought up as equivalent to this Werth deal. And we thought the Nats improved with the new GM. He’s turning into Boras’ butt boy, just like Hicks used to be.

  9. quintjs - Dec 6, 2010 at 1:40 AM

    Werth’s deal is such an overpay it probably has little impact on Crawford or Lee. Who are in on them? Rangers vs Yankees on Lee isn’t going to be a bidding war, either Lee is happy enough with the Rangers money or he signs for more from NY.

    What about Crawford? RS probably happy with Gonzalez, Angels and who realistically else? The other teams will just start talks with Nationals overpaid, we are not going there.

    It says it all when Boras didn’t even go back to other teams to match or better.

  10. Jonny 5 - Dec 6, 2010 at 7:51 AM

    I get the logic here. It’s got Crawford licking his lips, thinking he’ll get at least that, if not more. Why wouldn’t he?

  11. paperlions - Dec 6, 2010 at 8:03 AM

    I agree with Berardi. No reason this should affect the market at all. An agent can say, “well, Werth got X dollars and Y years, so we are looking for this.”, and a smart team will say, “you know and I know that the Werth deal was horrible, we’ll offer this, if you want a Werth-like deal, talk to the Nats”. While other deals may serve as a point of departure for discussions, every negotiation is an individual entity. Any team willing to sign a long-term deal that goes past a player’s age 36 season is screwing themselves.

  12. BC - Dec 6, 2010 at 9:21 AM

    Jason Werth is like the 25th best player in the sport, maybe the 10th best outfielder. What, are the Nationals high???!? And whatever they’re smoking, can I have some?

    • JBerardi - Dec 6, 2010 at 1:01 PM

      Dude, you really want to smoke that stuff? I can only imagine you’ll end up paying like $750 for half a bag of Doritos.

  13. dasher521 - Dec 6, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    I’m a huge Phillies fan. I loved Aaron Rowand when he was under contract here. As a free agent who got $10 million / year for five years, I didn’t love him so much. 2011 will be the fourth year of his contract and he lost his starting job last year. I loved Jason Werth under contract here. But for $18 million / year for seven years, not so much. Thanks for your four years in Philadelphia and I wish you well, except againt the Phils.

    The free agent pitcher signings are far worse. They are being paid to play 2/3rd of a game every five days. I don’t think Kevin Brown finished his contract. I don’t think Mike Hampton every had an above average year after he signed.

    As Pete Rose said, “No one is putting a gun to the owner’s heads.”

    • BC - Dec 6, 2010 at 10:28 AM

      Who was a worse signing? Hampton, or this guy:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayne_Garland

  14. prrbrr - Dec 6, 2010 at 12:06 PM

    This sounds more like the Oakland Raiders vs the Nats

  15. henryd3rd - Dec 7, 2010 at 6:57 AM

    George Steinbrenner are you listening? And they said you were fiscally irresponsible. They said you wrecked baseball. They said you had the best team money can buy. At the very least you had the resources to pay for your guys. Your teams did win seven World Series. I can foresee MLB coming to the National rescue in a few years. By the way the Nationals average 22,500 per game. How much will their ticket prices be raised this season? Can they win with this team? George, are you listening?

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