Sunday, December 5, 2010

Has Washington Made a "Werthwhile" Investment?

Free agent outfielder Jayson Werth has signed a seven-year $126 million contract with the Washington Nationals.

Although Werth was the Baltimore Orioles top draft pick in 1997 he was something of a late bloomer not reaching the majors until 2002 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. After two undistinguished seasons in Toronto, the Jays traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers for reliever Jason Frasor prior to the 2004 season. Werth didn't perform much better in L.A. and a wrist injury forced him to miss the entire 2006 season. Eventually, the Dodgers gave up on him.

The Philadelphia Phillies took a chance on Werth prior to the 2007 season and he would finally find his place in bigs although it actually wasn't until 2008 when Werth became an everyday player. The Phillies, of course, won the World Series in '08.

Werth was part of Phillie teams that reached the post-season for four consecutive seasons. Things are going to be very different in D.C. Werth was surrounded with an All-Star cast which included the likes of Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz. With Adam Dunn now a member of the Chicago White Sox, Werth and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman are the offensive focal points of the Nationals. The supporting cast is mighty thin.

The other obvious concern is the length of Werth's contract. It would be one thing if the Nats signed Werth to a seven year deal if he were 26 (like the Colorado Rockies did when they recently extended Troy Tulowitzki's contract.) But Werth is 31. I can see Werth having two or three productive years with the Nats but do the Nats really expect Werth to be an offensive force much less effectively patrol right field in 2017 when he is 38?

Have the Nationals made a "werthwhile" investment? Or could this be the worst spending to come out of Washington since Obamacare?

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