LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. – The conventional wisdom is that the Washington Nationals committed too many years and too many dollars to sign Phillies’ OF Jayson Werth.In fact, yesterday morning, Winter Meetings attendees were joking that Derek Jeter should have leveraged the Nationals for more Yankee money and that the doormat Nats were the new favourites to land Cliff Lee with all the money they’re suddenly willing to spend.
Now, no one’s laughing.
When Washington GM Jim Riggleman spoke to the media yesterday, everyone wanted to know what was next for the Nationals. Riggleman said his team wants to add a big-name reliever, and could seek a free agent’s services at first base.
The Nationals have become players in the free agent market. That Cliff Lee joke wasn’t so funny anymore.
While the Yankees are still the favourite to land Lee, the bigger implications are clear: beginning this offseason, the Nationals are a force to be reckoned with in free agency. The Nationals spent more on Werth than they had on all free agent acquisitions over the last 20 years (dating back to their Montreal days).
The next time the traditional big boys compete for a free agent, they’d be foolish to overlook their sudden rivals in D.C. The Nationals are working towards legitimacy.
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