Jayson Werth left the Philadelphia Phillies and signed a seven-year, $126 million deal with the Washington Nationals.
The deal with the Nationals makes no sense to me. The Nationals are an improving club; however, they will be without pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg (Tommy John surgery) in 2011.
Bryce Harper (first overall pick in 2010 draft) might not be ready for the MLB at this time.
The Nationals also lost first baseman Adam Dunn to free agency (Dunn signed with the Chicago White Sox).
The Nationals may soon be without Josh Willingham as well, as the Boston Red Sox are interested in him.
Werth’s discipline and power at the plate will help the Nationals improve; however, he will have to shoulder too much of the offensive burden. Ian Desmond should continue to improve, but the Nationals’ offense will revolve largely around Ryan Zimmerman and Werth.
This will be a losing deal for both Werth and the Nationals in the long run. While Werth is still a good player and will help the Nationals to improve, he does not have the same great lineup surrounding him that he had in Philadelphia. He will be productive for two or three more seasons and then decline.
Although still productive, I have doubts Werth will repeat his 2010 numbers. The Washington lineup is not as talented as the Philadelphia lineup; furthermore, Werth will face tougher pitching than he is accustomed to. As a member of the Phillies, the top pitchers Werth faced in the NL East were the likes of Johan Santana, Josh Johnson, Tim Hudson and Tommy Hanson. Now in addition to facing those pitchers, he will also have to face Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.
Werth’s career was marred with injuries prior to joining the Phillies. He showed flashes of his ability with the Phillies in the 2007 season and became a full-time starter in 2008. Since 2008, Werth hit .279 while averaging 29 home runs and 83 RBIs per season. In his four seasons with the Phillies, Werth hit .282 and sported a .380 OBP while playing a large role in their success.
He will do well in Washington, but he will find it difficult to repeat the numbers he had in Philadelphia. In the end, this seven-year deal makes no sense for the Nationals or for Werth. Werth could have easily commanded the dollars he was asking for with other teams. He could have achieved big bucks in Philadelphia as well, as the Phillies offered him arbitration. Other teams would also give him more wins and a better shot at another World Series title than the Nationals will. Boston’s Fenway Park would have been a paradise for Werth to hit in.
The only reason I can assume for why he signed with the Nationals is the contract length. Other teams could have matched the dollars with ease and given Werth more wins. I have doubts the other teams offered him as much as seven years. Any way you look at this deal, it is a senseless deal in the end for both the Nationals and Werth.
Christopher Wenrich is a fantasy baseball columnist at BaseballDigest.com.