December 6, 2010

Werth his weight in gold.

Jayson Werth is no longer a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Most of us saw this coming, but a few tweets immediately afterward shocked me: people moaning about the good old days, when "baseball was about purity." Was it? I do remember hearing of an era where greedy owners and a crappy union meant players were trapped on the same teams their entire lives. Was that purity, or an modern take on indentured servitude? I prefer this era, where players are free to go elsewhere and get paid at market value.

This particular split was amicable enough, although Werth made it a bit more uncomfortable when he brought up "feeling unwanted" in Philadelphia. Give us a break, Jayson. You took the big deal elsewhere, as well you should have. Until Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford sign, Werth's contract is tied for the fourteenth-richest in baseball history: seven years and $126 million. Absolutely insane, and if history is any indicator, trouble for the team that dealt it out.

Those numbers should look familiar to you Blue Jays fans out there; it's the same deal Toronto gave to Vernon Wells in 2008. Think J.P. Riccardi regrets that one? Barry Zito's serving out a carbon copy of that contract, too, and I think the defending champions Giants would love to celebrate their title by dropping a piano on his head.

I'm not saying Werth will bomb in Washington, D.C.; he's a talented player who would be a great complimentary piece to a Ryan Zimmerman/Bryce Harper/Stephen Strasburg core someday. But that remains more than a little uncertain; unless they all stay healthy and meet incredibly lofty expectations, the Nationals are nowhere near contenders.

Washington GM Mike Rizzo has been (understandably) talking up Werth nonstop, but everyone knows it's just that -- talk. Werth isn't a franchise player; he's outrageously overpaid before even playing a game. It's telling that his agent, Scott Boras, didn't even take the offer to other interested parties. He knew the jackpot had already been hit.

The Nationals paid the "crappy team tax," and they seemed happy to do it. I'm extremely glad that Jayson Werth's family is set for life, and I'm happy that such a key part of the 2008 championship squad is being rewarded for his contributions to baseball (and my personal happiness). But will I really miss him, or the giant, awful contract that would have kept him around? You bet I won't.

Unless they waste those bucks on shitty, shitty Jeff Francoeur, of course.

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