Jayson Werth's deal looks like panic move
December, 6, 2010
By Keith Law | ESPN Insider
Giving a 32-year-old position player who has qualified for the batting title exactly twice in his major league career a guaranteed seven-year deal for over $100 million isn't just a bad move.
Getty ImagesTwo good years wasn't enough to justify seven more well-paid ones.
Jayson Werth has been, for two years, an All-Star-caliber player -- one of the top 25 to 30 players in the National League when you consider offense, position, baserunning and defense -- and he was highly coveted in the free-agent market this offseason. He hits for power, works the count well and gets on base, plays good right-field defense with an above-average arm and adds value with smart baserunning.
However, he's a massive risk for a deal anywhere close to this length, given his age, injury history and the boost he received over the past two years from his home park in Philadelphia -- not to mention the combination fluke of a contract year in 2010 and a reverse platoon split he's not likely to maintain.
Corner players at age 32 are most likely at the beginning of their decline phases even if they don't have Werth's tenure on the disabled list; the Nationals appear to have bought themselves all of Werth's decline phase with an option on his post-decline phase (sometimes known as "release waivers") should it arrive a little earlier. There are no guarantees when it comes to player health, but I like playing the odds, and a player who's been hurt as often as Werth has and who has missed as much time as Werth has is likely to get hurt and miss time as he approaches the age when even normally healthy players tend to get hurt and miss time. Predicting health and performance for any player six or seven years out is difficult, but the indicators on Werth all say that you don't want to lock him up for that many years into his late 30s.