Mr. Werth goes to Washington

Jayson Werth can consider it an early Christmas gift. The Washington Nationals gave Werth a seven-year, $126 million contract to become their right fielder. The move was a surprise, since the Nationals weren’t thought to be a realistic landing spot for Werth, with the Boston Red Sox thought to be the most logical spot for Werth to sign.

For their part, the Phillies did make a late offer to Werth, but weren’t able to come close enough to the deal offered by the Nationals to keep Werth in Philadelphia. Werth signing with Washington hurts the Phillies in a couple of ways. First, he goes to a division rival and one of the teams that are thought to be an up-and-coming team. Secondly, since the Nationals will be drafting in the top half of the first round in 2011, they won’t have to forfeit their first round pick for signing Werth. Instead, the Phillies will get Washington’s second round pick next June.

The consensus is that the Nationals overpaid for Werth in both years and dollars. Coming into free agency, Werth and his agent, Scott Boras, were said to be seeking a deal much like Matt Holliday got (seven-years, $126 million) last off-season when he re-signed with St. Louis. Most people around baseball didn’t think that Werth would be able to get that sort of money, but the Nationals actually gave him almost a million-dollars more per season than Holliday was able to get from the Cardinals.

Werth’s decision to stay in the National League East means that the Phillies will play against him 18 times a season for the next seven seasons. It also means that fellow free agent Carl Crawford‘s price just went up. Crawford is seen as the better choice between the two free agents and he will possibly receive an even longer and more lucrative deal than the Nationals gave to Werth. Some experts now put Crawford’s price tag at something around eight-years and $180 million.

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