Last night, when I first heard about the seven-year, $126 million deal that Jayson Werth signed with the Nationals, it was so hard to digest the news because it seemed so unbelievable to me. Somehow, somebody just reported some bad information and the news spread like wildfire, I thought.
What could Mike Rizzo and the Nationals be thinking?
Have they ever heard of a thing called park effects and how it can change the dynamics of a players performance in such drastic ways, especially when you are comparing cozy Citizens Bank Park to the cavernous Nationals Park?
It’s so hard to wrap your brain around this ill-conceived deal, but I will try to look at this as objectively as I can.
The first thing that pops into my mind is of course is the contract Jason Bay signed with the Mets last offseason, A contract that I bemoaned at the time and still do.
It’s not that I didn’t want to see Bay play for the Mets, I just thought the Mets were overpaying annually for the type of production he provided, and I thought 4 years and an easy to vest option for a 5th year was somewhat insane given his age and reports of knee and shoulder concerns.
Sure, Bay hit .267 in 2009 with 36 homers and 119 RBIs, but what stood out like a sore thumb to me was his 162 strikeouts that season. That and the fact that you could predictably cut those homeruns in half by the change in park effects. He would also possibly lose many of the RBI’s that went along with those homeruns. As it turned out, even before the injury, the change in venue negatively impacted Bay’s power even more than I initially anticipated.
That said, Jayson Werth will suffer an even worse fate offensively in Nationals Park. Not that Nationals Park is equivalent to the vastness of Citi Field, not by a longshot, but because the HR factor at CBP is 25% more than what it is at Fenway Park where Bay put up his great walk-year numbers.
There’s also the risk that comes with age.
When Bay signed his, lets call it a five-year deal, he was 30 years old, which would mean his age during the final year of his contract would be 35 years old. Werth, on the other hand, will be 32 in May, meaning that his deal will pay him through his 39th birthday. That’s a tough pill to swallow.
Using the Nationals’ $60 million dollar payroll in 2010 as a guide, they are essentially committing almost one third of their payroll budget to just one player. That is sheer insanity, especially when you consider that we are talking about Jayson Werth and not Albert Pujols.
Some people have already said that the Nationals will regret this deal in about five years from now. I totally disagree. I believe it will happen much sooner than that and most likely the reality and horror of what they’ve done will hit them by the All Star break of next season.
This deal was a mistake of epic proportions.