Remember when Barry Zito signed his seven-year, $126 million contract in the winter of 2006? Remember how we all scratched our heads and said how could the San Francisco Giants commit that much money to a pitcher like Zito?

Well, it’s time to start scratching our heads again.


On Sunday, it was announced that the Washington Nationals signed OF Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126 million contract. Werth’s contract is the third largest ever given to an outfielder—only Manny Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano scored larger contracts than Werth.

I like Werth a lot. I really do. He’s been a stud for the Philadelphia Phillies for the past four years and my fantasy team for the past two.

However, this contract is ridiculous.

The overall consensus was that Werth was going to sign with the Boston Red Sox or the Detroit Tigers. The Nationals were nowhere on the radar.

But when the Nationals presumably blew everyone with some sanity off the map with their offer, Werth was DC bound.

I am not sure that anyone can argue with Werth going to the Nationals. I mean, if someone is going to offer you that much more money than anyone else, I don’t care if you are going to endure a 0-162 season, that’s where you are going.

I have no problem with the annual salary the Nationals are giving Werth. He has been a $20 million a year player for the Phillies for the past three years, so $18 million a year isn’t outlandish.

Now giving a guy who will be 32 on Opening Day for seven years, well, that’s a bunch of Tom Foolery.

Four years and $72 million would have been adequate for Werth. The Nationals gave Werth three more years, which doesn’t make sense to me.

In the final three years of the contract, the Nationals will be paying Werth $18 million a year when he is in his late 30′s. By that time, I will make a safe bet that Werth will no longer be an $18 million a year player.

If you think about it, the Nationals might not even be good until four or five years from now. By the time the Nationals get really competitive, Werth’s contract will be an albatross.

Contract aside, Werth is an overall upgrade over the recent departed Adam Dunn. Most importantly, he is a huge upgrade over Dunn on the defensive side of the ball. Defense has been the achilles heel for the Nationals over the past couple of seasons.

However, Werth doesn’t solve all of the Nationals’ problems and he is only a win or two improvement over Dunn. If this team doesn’t get some pitching, the Nationals will find themselves in a similar situation to what Soriano is in with the Chicago Cubs.

Having a player with an untradeable contract on a crappy team never ends well.

And for those of you who want to blame Scott Boras (Werth’s agent on this deal) for ruining the game by demanding these large contracts, which price out the small market teams, just remember this: Someone has to buy what he is selling.

Boras doesn’t sign contracts; there has to be some clown out there to sign the contract he is pitching.

In this case, the clown turned out to be Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo.


You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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