Washington Nationals: Grading Mike Rizzo’s 10 best free agent signings
By Brian Foley
Jayson Werth (2011-17)
Werth was Rizzo’s first foray into the deep end of the free agent pool. The Nationals inked Werth to a seven-year deal worth $126 million leading up to the 2011 season, the third-biggest contract ever handed out to a free-agent outfielder at the time.
The deal was widely panned from the start, and Rizzo was hit even harder as Werth struggled to produce in his first season with the team.
His .788 OPS in D.C. was nearly 100 points lower than his numbers across four seasons in Philadelphia. He never made an All-Star team with the Nats, and averaged 47 missed games per year.
Werth totaled 13.0 wins above replacement with Washington, good for 44th among qualified outfielders from 2011-17. It is true that you have to overpay for talent in baseball, but nearly $10 million per win over seven years is a severe miscalculation.
Still, Werth was generally a solid player for Washington. He posted a .263/.355/.433 slash line during his time, and earned MVP votes in both 2013 and ‘14. He was a fan favorite, a key cog in the transition from bottom-feeder to perennial contender, and a crucial leader for an organization that undergoes constant managerial turnover. Werth set the tone in D.C. and brought a level of professionalism to the Nationals.
This is a tricky deal to grade, but at least we’ll always have his walk-off blast in game four of the 2012 NLDS.