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Jayson Werth Signs $126 Million Contract: Why Baseball Needs a Salary Cap

Updated on July 12, 2011

Werth is MLB's Newest $100 Million Man

It was announced earlier this week that Jayson Werth, formerly of the Philadelphia Phillies, signed a seven-year, $126 million contract with the Washington Nationals and will make roughly $18 million a season.

That is more than the New York Yankees entire starting outfield combined.

If that sounds ridiculous, well, that's because it is.

Now, players being paid enormous amounts of cash during the baseball offseason is nothing new. Each year, MLB free agents and their agents up the ante and raise the bar to a whole new level when it comes to salaries and negotiations with potential suitors. Especially when the agent is Scott Boras, as was the case with Werth.

But typically the player is a little better than Jayson Werth.

Jayson Werth

Source

Is Werth Worth It?

At 31 years old, he is already past the prime of his career, or at the very least in the midst of the tail end of it, and has only hit 120 HR to go along with 406 RBI and a .272 AVG.

His .367 OBP and .481 SLG are favorable, making him a sabermetician's dream come true, but in basic baseball terms, he is fairly pedestrian with a history of injury.

Comparable Contracts:

By signing the contract, Jayson Werth becomes the fourth highest paid outfielder in 2011, behind only Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells and Ichiro Suzuki.

Of those three contracts, only Ichiro is believed to be of value. Especially considering he adds the entire country of Japan to the Seattle Mariner's market.

So, why do General Managers continue to sign off on such deals, especially considering some of the players Werth will earn more than in 2011?

In the 2011 MLB Season, Matt Holliday, Ryan Braun, Andre Ethier and Corey Hart will all make less. Only Holliday even comes close. All four were voted into the NL All-Star Game in 2010. Jayson Werth was not.

Of those players, I would like to take a closer look at Corey Hart of the Milwaukee Brewers. Both he and Werth play right field in the National League and signed contract extensions in 2010.

Games Played:

The two have played close to the same amount of games with Jayson Werth at 775 and Corey Hart at 666.

Although Hart has played in 109 less games than Werth, he is also three years younger, which is typically of value to a MLB team.

Assuming he plays in 150 games each season over the next three seasons, he should be somewhere around 1116 games by the age of 31. Meaning, Hart will have an additional 331 games in his prime than Werth ever did.

Career Stats Through 2010:

Jayson Werth (31)

R
RBI
HR
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
433
406
120
77
.272
.367
.481

Corey Hart (28)

R
RBI
HR
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
358
362
98
71
.275
.329
.483

Corey Hart in the 2010 All-Star Game Home Run Derby

Source

Let's Hear it for Hart!

Looking over these stats you will see that Corey Hart has a better career AVG and SLG than Jayson Werth and should have close to 600 RBI, 160 HR and 100 SB (based on career averages) by the time he is 31. All of those numbers would blow Werth's current stats out of the water.

Really, OBP is the only statistic where Werth truly outshines Hart.

It is debatable as to who the better baseball player is entering 2011 as both are close from a statistics point of view. Personally, I think a slight edge goes to Corey Hart. Jayson Werth will be playing in a much weaker lineup than Hart and in a much more pitcher-friendly ballpark and division.

There is no debate, however, as to which player has more value in 2011.

On August 2, 2010, Hart signed a three-year extension with the Milwaukee Brewers that will pay him a total of $26.5 million, or just under $9 million a season, up until 2013, the year he turns 31.

Now, which player would you rather have? Corey Hart for $9 million a year, or Jayson Werth for $18 million?

It seems fairly obvious to me.

Scott Boras: Baseball Fan Enemy #1

Source

A Major Baseball Blunder

What makes the Werth contract so frustrating is that it will be the new benchmark for outfielders going forward, only Jayson Werth wasn't worthy enough to set it.

That doesn't mean he shouldn't have accepted, it means that Mike Rizzo of the Washington Nationals should not have offered it.

There are tons of outfielders in baseball with similar production to Werth at younger ages that will now be looking for the same kind of money, if not more, which close to 60% of the MLB teams can't afford.

If the market continues to rise each offseason based off of this contract, imagine what Corey Hart will demand in 2011? Do you think it is a number the Milwaukee Brewers can even come close to affording?

Contracts such as Werth's are a disservice to not only baseball fans, but to the sport, as the talent level continues to pool into tiny sectors throughout the country, leaving very little left for the vast majority of America and making parity in baseball a punchline more so than a possibility.

Baseball needs a salary cap. Preferably three days ago.

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    • Malchiah profile image

      Malchiah 6 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Werth wasn't even the Phillies best player when they were in the midst of their championship runs. Granted, he's a clutch player, but not worth what Washington has paid him.

      Since he started playing on an every day basis in 2004-2005, his CURRENT BATTING AVERAGE of .229 is his lowest and his 18 Home Runs will be his lowest since 2007 when he barely played half the season. Werth is an example of player getting clutch hits ON TV and then using his agent to make the most of a new contract. He's the Barry Zito of position players.

      And while I'm a die-hard Yankee fan, baseball needs a salary cap like the NFL needed to end the lockout.

    • optimus grimlock profile image

      optimus grimlock 7 years ago

      i think hes work 60mill for 5 years at best. hes not as good as hunter,either,braun,kemp,cargo or holliday. I think heart will do decent this year but not as good as last.

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