The Nationals have signed former Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126 million contract.
An average annual salary of $18 million is quite a haul for a player that will turn 32 next season. However, the Nationals, who lost 93 games last year, probably had to overpay if they wanted to make a big splash in the free agent market.
But maybe more importantly, we now have a better idea of how much it will take to sign this off-season’s biggest fish, Carl Crawford. And that number is now a lot bigger than anybody thought it would be just one month ago.
There is speculation that Crawford is asking teams for eight years. And now that Werth got seven years, Crawford may get it. In fact, an official from one team now thinks Crawford could get a 10 year deal for as much as $190 million.
While both players have been worth about 15 wins the past three seasons (according to Fangraphs.com), Crawford was worth two more wins than Werth last year (6.9 versus 5.0). Crawford is also two years younger and considered more of an impact player.
If Crawford’s new deal is for eight years, the average annual salary will be a minimum of $18 million ($144M total). On the other hand, if a team doesn’t want to commit to eight years, they will probably have to up the average salary to at least $20 million. That means $140 million over seven years.
Also consider that the Red Sox top priority this off-season was to sign either Werth or Crawford. With Werth gone, that means, of the five teams still chasing Crawford, the Red Sox will join the Angels as the teams that have Crawford at the top of their wish-list. And that will only serve to drive up his price.
When the off-season started the consensus was that Crawford would probably sign for something in the neighbourhood of $100 million. But when Crawford does sign his new contract, he should probably thank Werth and his agent, Scott Boras, for the additional $50 million he is now looking to make.
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