Jayson Werth: Did the Nationals Overpay for Their New Right Fielder?

Jason LempertCorrespondent IDecember 6, 2010

Jayson Werth has agreed to the largest contract in Washington Nationals' history
Jayson Werth has agreed to the largest contract in Washington Nationals' historyDoug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Washington Nationals signed Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126 million contract. I have one question...why?

I mean, if you're going to dish out that type of a contract to an outfielder, why not give it to a younger and more athletic Carl Crawford?

Werth will be knocking on the door of the 40-year-old club when this contract is up, and he's had one really good season (in 2009) and two good seasons (2008 and 2010).

In fact, prior to 2008, Werth had only played in 100 games once (102 in 2005 with the Dodgers).

Sure, Werth helped the Philadelphia Phillies to a 2008 World Series championship, and yes, he did hit 36 home runs in his first All-Star season in '09. But has he really shown that he's worth (no pun intended) $126 million at age 31?

The Nationals are a team that is looking to finally gain some respect in the league. Since the team came to Washington from Montreal, it has finished higher than fifth in the NL East once...fourth in 2007. 

But they now have a core group of young players, highlighted of course by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Phenom Stephen Strasburg underwent Tommy John Surgery late last season, but his return will only make the Nats more fearsome. Bryce Harper will be in the big leagues in no time. Ian Desmond is blossoming into a star shortstop.

They are now a team to be reckoned with, and Werth will certainly add some pop to that lineup. 

But I do believe that Crawford would have been a much better fit, for probably around the same number of dollars.

It is possible that Crawford did not wish to sign with the Nationals, but I would hope the Nats at least kicked his tires before handing out such a large contract to Werth.

MLB.com reported that the Mets' new GM Sandy Alderson is just as shocked as I am. 

"It makes some of our contracts look pretty good," Alderson quipped. "I thought they were trying to reduce the deficit in Washington."

Granted, the Mets dished out a large contract to Jason Bay in last year's offseason, and he had a dismal 2010. But if anything, that only proves the point of handling free agents with caution.

Winning is the name of the game, but this is by far the largest contract, both in years and dollars, that the Nationals have ever given out, and I just hope for their sake they didn't give it to the wrong outfielder.