When Our Washington Nationals sent out their official press release late this afternoon announcing the signing of Jayson Werth to a multi-year deal, the first thoughts: "Excellent, solid hitter, hits for power, plus outfielder with a decent arm, gives Washington another slugger in a corner outfield spot."
Then came the the years agreed to on the contract: Seven.
A few minutes later MLB Network was reporting a $126 Million deal. The largest deal in franchise history.
That's an $18 million average over the course of the contract.
Makes Adam Dunn's 4-year, $56 Million deal with The White Sox look pale in comparison (pun intended).
Jayson Werth is going to be a nice edition to D.C.'s ballclub. He's needed. But are the last three years of this signing going to cripple team payroll? After 2013, Ryan Zimmerman's current contract ends. The Z-Man will need a new deal for huge money. Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper will follow behind him. Then there is who else will be added to strengthen and build a contending Washington team?
Good for The Lerner Family for shelling out the big bucks. But is it too much, to one aging guy, for too long of a period of time? Jayson Werth will be 39 years old at the conclusion of this seven year, $126 Million contact.
Absolutely floored by this deal. We are going to need a day or two to digest it.
In a live press conference airing on MLB Network, Our GM Mike Rizzo called the Werth signing the beginning of "Phase Two" of development. Riz also noted he's only just beginning the off-season overhaul. With the Winter Meetings officially beginning tomorrow, Mike insinuated more deals are in the making.
Here are exact quotes from the final few minutes of Rizzo's Q & A in Lake Buena Vista Florida this afternoon:
Rizzo: "Well, I'd like to thank everybody for showing up. It's a big day for the Washington Nationals. We're very proud to announce the signing of Jayson Werth to a contract with the Washington Nationals. He'll be a center piece of our ballclub on the field and in the clubhouse. It kind of exemplifies Phase 2 of the Washington Nationals' process. Phase 1 was a scouting and player development, build the farm system type of program. We feel that we're well on the way to doing that and now it's the time to go the second phase and really compete for Division titles and championships. We feel that with a player of Jayson Werth's ilk, a two-way player, a guy who excels offensively, defensively, baserunning and exhibits five tools, that's the type of player we're looking for and we're just so pleased and so proud that the Lerner family has allowed me the resources to go out and get Jayson and we think he's going to be a big piece of a puzzle. We certainly have more holes to fill, we have more work to do and we're certainly aggressively going from here and beyond."
Rizzo: “He feels like I feel Jayson’s best days haven’t been had yet. We feel this is a player who had a slower start as a Major League player and is only going to continue on and improve his skills in his future time in the Big Leagues.”
And here is the official release from the team:
NATIONALS AGREE TO TERMS WITH RF JAYSON WERTH ON SEVEN-YEAR DEAL
The Washington Nationals today agreed to terms with free-agent right fielder Jayson Werth on a seven-year contract. Nationals Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.
Werth, 31, is a career .272 (684-for-2519) hitter with 138 doubles, 15 triples, 120 home runs, 406 RBI, 77 stolen bases and 433 runs scored in 775 games spanning eight seasons with Philadelphia (2007-10), Los Angeles-NL (2004-05) and Toronto (2002-03). For his career, Werth also owns .367 on-base and .481 slugging percentages, as well as an .848 OPS.
In 2010, his final season with the Phillies, Werth batted .296 (164-for-554) with an NL-leading 46 doubles, 27 home runs and 85 RBI in 156 games. He established career highs in hits, doubles, extra-base hits (75) and runs (106). He also notched a career-best .532 slugging percentage in ‘10, and thus, increased his slugging mark for the fourth straight season.
An NL All-Star in ‘09, Werth burst upon the scene as a premium middle-of-the-lineup bat in 2008, and in three seasons since, he has batted .279 with 88 doubles, 87 home runs, 251 RBI and 53 stolen bases in 449 games. In the same three-year span, Werth has paced MLB having seen 4.46 pitches per plate appearance. In the two-season stretch from 2009-10, Werth’s 204 runs scored, 173 walks and 63 home runs ranked third, fifth and eighth, respectively in the NL.
An excellent baserunner, Werth has twice posted 20-stolen base seasons (2008, ‘09), and in 2010 his speed and senses helped him to score 100-plus runs for the first time in his career.
Drafted in the first round by the Orioles as a catcher in 1997, Werth has proven durable, as he is one of only 12 National Leaguers to have played in 155-plus games each of the last two seasons.