SBD/Issue 60/Franchises

Nationals' Deal With Werth Makes Other Teams Take Notice

Blockbuster Deal For Jayson Werth Already
Changing Perception Of Nationals Franchise

The Nationals' seven-year, $126M deal with RF Jayson Werth has "changed so much about this baseball offseason," according to Adam Kilgore of the WASHINGTON POST. The contract "drastically shook the market for free agent contracts and altered Washington's perception in two ways." For some, it "sent a signal that the Nationals are poised to add enough pieces to compete," but for others is "served as a referendum on their business savvy." One agent called the contract "the stupidest thing I've ever seen." But Nationals GM Mike Rizzo "heard the criticism and responded with a shrug," because team officials "got the player they wanted." Rizzo: "Instead of having to recruit players and overpay players at times to come to Washington, I think we're trying to get this place to be a destination." One player agent said, "It lets everyone know the Nationals are serious about winning. It got everybody's attention" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/7). In DC, Tom Boswell writes signing Werth for "more than he's worth is a fine gamble" for the Nationals, because "sometimes, you have to jump-start the future." Rizzo said, "When two rival GMs in your own division are saying that you overspent, you must be doing something right. Did we go an extra year and another $18 million beyond anybody else? Yeah, we did. I'm not ashamed." Boswell notes owners of "bad teams are described with one of two words: cheap or dumb." In one day, Nationals Owner Ted Lerner has "removed himself from the first category." There were doubts about whether the Lerners, "knowing that baseball is a dark forest of scary, exciting variables," would finally decide to "jump into the game." Boswell: "Now we have 126 million answers -- all of them 'Yes'" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/7). ESPN's Buster Olney noted the Nationals "spent more money on Werth than all the free agents the franchise had signed in the previous 20 years combined" (ESPN.com, 12/6). ESPN's Pedro Gomez said of the deal, "It's been only 24 hours, but yet it is still sending shockwaves throughout large and small market teams" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN2, 12/6).

GETTING THEIR MAN: ESPN BOSTON's Gordon Edes noted the Red Sox this week are "mailing renewal notices to season-ticket holders," and team officials "got their man" by trading for 1B Adrian Gonzalez. On Sunday, there were reports that the deal fell through, and that "much-advertised splash the Sox were seeking to make would have been instantly transformed into a belly flop, leaving the occupants of Yawkey Way dripping wet with embarrassment." But after landing the Padres star, the Red Sox have a "great face to put on a billboard, not only for this season, but for years to come." With Gonzalez "in the fold, the Sox can send out those renewal notices, and expect many happy returns" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 12/6).

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