Double Play: Is a Werth-sized deal in the Jays' future?

Daan De Kerpel,
12/5/2010 10:13:39 PM
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To quote an internet sensation from a few years ago, “Boom goes the Dynamite.”

With the baseball winter meetings about to being in earnest on Monday morning, Scott Boras and his client Jayson Werth along with the Washington Nationals, just shook up the economic landscape by agreeing to a seven-year, $126 million contract.

Carl Crawford and Cliff Lee, who are better players are no doubt about to use that deal as leverage, pushing what would have already have been huge deals into the mega-deal stratosphere.

After taking a moment to digest the fact that Werth was actually making Vernon Wells money (they both signed for $126 millon – though Wells did back in 2006), the next thing that comes to mind, is that it is a very expensive message that the Nationals are sending out.  They want to alert the rest of the league and the players that their rebuilding stage is now more or less over, and that now they're in it to win it.

North of the border, the deal has little effect on the Toronto Blue Jays this season, as the club looks like they're more likely to go the trade route rather than the big money signing, but one has to wonder if the Werth deal is a sign of things to come for Alex Anthopoulos and the Jays.

While the Nationals have had a much worse record than the Jays over the years, they have some similar issues that Toronto has when it comes to free agents.  Right now, it's simply not a huge destination city for major league players.

Let's be honest, the Baltimore Orioles, and Tampa Bay Rays (when they're spending money) have similar issues in the American League East, as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, being perennial contenders, act as a huge deterrents as players usually aim to go to cities where the playoffs are in reach.

The Nationals, who feel that they've built enough of a core group of players that by adding some free agents, they'll be able to get closer to the powerhouse Philadelphia Phillies and the strong Atlanta Braves, learned first-hand on Sunday that in order to get the first big-time free agent on the club, an overpayment would have to be made. 

The hope now is that the Nationals line-up with Werth in the fold makes it a more attractive destination for other free agents.

While the Jays are more than likely a year or more away from adding that type of player, the Werth contract could be used as a sign of things to come for Jays' fans.  If the core stays strong, and Toronto looks to be a player or two away, the club might have to add an extra year or two to a contract of a top free agent in order to get the player to come to place that hasn't made the playoffs since 1993.

If that deal comes to pass in the future, hopefully fans can accept the fact that sometimes overpaying for an asset is just part of doing business in baseball.

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