The Nationals created a stir when they signed Jayson Werth to a generous $126 million, seven-year contract in the offseason.
People mocked them for this move. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson felt compelled to make a joke about deficit being reduced in Washington when asked about the Nationals’ move. An unnamed general manager said “Absolutely bat—-crazy” when he spoke to Fox Sports.com’s Ken Rosenthal about Werth’s contract.
So far, Werth is proving his critics right. He hasn’t been the guy for the Nationals so far, which he hasn’t gotten the key hits or engineer a big inning for them. He has been an automatic out more times than not.
Yes, he hit eight home runs and drove in eighteen runs. He extends singles into doubles. He gives the team leadership by putting on a professional effort.
Still for the money he is making, the Nationals would like to see more out of him. They would love to see him get a hit with runners in scoring position. They would be ecstatic if he hit game-winning home runs. They hope opposing pitchers fear him rather than feel comfortable about facing him. They demand that his .254 batting average improve.
The Nationals shouldn’t get their hopes up. That’s not the type of player Werth is. He is a good role player that will put role player’s numbers. He will get his 20 home runs and drive in 85 runs this year. Not bad for a player of that ability.
The Nationals feel he should do more. After all, he was getting key hits and hitting the ball out of the park for the Phillies in the last few years. That made him attractive for other teams when it was time for him to be a free agent. Everyone felt either the Yankees or the Red Sox would bid for his rights.
When the Nationals pursued him, he decided to take their money rather than have teams bids for him. Even he knew other teams would be hard-pressed to sign him for what he was going to get in the market.
That should have had the Nationals thinking why he signed with them. They were too happy to accept the fact he choose them for them to think about it. It was a reasonable question. If the Yankees, Red Sox or the Phillies felt he wasn’t worth what him and Scott Boras thought, why did they felt the need to pay him?
It’s hard to believe Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was crazy about doing this. He has been in the industry for a long time, and he knows Werth shouldn’t get a superstar’s salary.
This was about ownership proving to the Nationals fans that they are committed to building a winner. The Lerner family desperately wants to win after having several losing seasons, so they were going to do whatever it takes.
Remember this team wanted to sign Jorge De La Rosa, Carlos Pena and Derrek Lee this offseason. They even pursued Zack Grienke until he told them he was not interested in playing for them.
Still, there is something to be said about being smart in their signings. That’s what the Yankees do when they sign free agents that are difference makers.
Werth is not that guy. He is not a guy that is going to be the man every game. That’s Ryan Zimmerman’s role, but right now, he is on the disabled list.
If this team wanted to overpay a guy, they should have waited next offseason when Prince Fielder was a free agent. He is going to want a lot of cash, and he’s willing to go to an organization that will do just that. That means he would play for the Nationals, and he knows that team is not that far away from being a divisional contender.
Fortunately, the Nationals can still sign Fielder. Odds are both parties will reach an agreement, and Fielder will be the hero for that franchise next year.
It will not be Werth. It will be interesting if he is there for the duration of that contract. By then, he and the team will be tired of each other.
Werth will likely want a fresh new start, and the organization would love to get out of that contract. It may take the end of the season for the team to realize they have to get rid of his salary.
Good luck to them in finding a way to get out of it. They are stuck with each other for better or for worse.
They should have thought about this before the marriage was formed.