Nationals Sign Jayson Werth To Insane Contract; Questions Abound

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 17: Jayson Werth #28 of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts to striking out against the San Francisco Giants in Game Two of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 17 2010 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

If anyone knows of an article that does a good job explaining the negotiations that led to Jayson Werth getting a seven-year, $126 million contract, could you post it in the comments? I've been reading in various places and I haven't come across one that gives answers to some key questions. There are, uh, many, but let's do one for each year.

1) Seven years, $126 million? Really? The exact amounts the Blue Jays and the Giants paid for Vernon Wells and Barry Zito, respectively? Isn't that a terrible omen? Shouldn't the Nationals have tossed in an extra million, purely for karmic reasons?

2) To what extent were the Nationals bidding against themselves? Would any other team have offered more than five years? Here's one with a partial answer:

"Yes, it's a long, big contract," Rizzo acknowledged. "But when you're in a position that the Washington Nationals are in, you at times have to pony up for an extra year or some more money to get the player. When you're [competing] with the Red Sox and Yankees and teams that can win instantly, often times you have to better them financially or termwise. We felt comfortable doing that."

UPDATE: And an even clearer answer, and thanks to Burgher King in the comments for pointing this out:

The #Nationals offer on Werth was so far above everyone else that Boras didn't even ask other interested teams if they wanted to match it.

3) Are the Nats at all concerned about what's going to happen in five years if Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg have them on the verge of contention, but they can't spend on free agents to support them because they have to pay $18 million to a 36-year-old Jayson Werth? (Or, worse, they can't afford to sign Ryan Zimmerman to an extension?)

4) Are the Nationals hiding hundreds of millions of dollars they haven't told us about in some offshore account somewhere?

5) Does the name Alfonso Soriano ring a bell here? How about Carlos Lee? Sure, Werth is in way better shape than Lee, but is it ever intelligent to sign a 30-something outfielder to a seven-year deal? (Especially one with an injury history who has only played more than 134 games twice in his career? And a guy who commanded a mere $10 million contract just two years ago?)

6) Do the Nationals have a plan here? At all?

7) How much less than $126 million would Werth have taken to sign with the Phillies or the Red Sox?

This last one is most critical for Pirates fans. If we want the Bucs to sign big-ticket free agents, is this how we want them to do it? Again, I'd love to know the details here - did the Nats dramatically overpay for no reason at all, or do they simply have to overpay to a staggering degree to attract top talent, just because they're the Nats? If this is what it means for a downtrodden team to sign a star in the free agent market, then count me out, over and over again. This deal will be a lot of fun for the Nationals for the first couple of years, and then, just as they can reasonably hope to be competitive, it's going to be a huge, huge millstone.

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