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.
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.