The Hot Stove has been cooking lately, and what's most interesting is that the Yankees have been relegated to the kiddie table as players like Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth, and Adam Dunn signed with other teams. With Teixeira at first and Posada likely manning the DH spot often, Dunn wouldn't have fit into New York's plans, but the other three were suitable mates for the Bronx but went elsewhere.
Most shocking was Cliff Lee's signing in Philadelphia where he was traded away exactly one year ago today. Lee was dealt to make room for Roy Halladay. Now, there is suddenly enough room for both in the rotation, and with Oswalt and Hamels joining the mix, there is little hope for anyone else in the NL East.
The Yankees still have plenty of ammunition, but they can hardly be considered the no-brainer favorite anymore. Boston got better, Philadelphia got better, the White Sox got better, and don't forget about the World Series winning rotation in San Francisco. There is plenty to like around the league, and 2011 looks like it may be a season filled with some powerhouse teams.
After commending the White Sox for signing Adam Dunn to a "reasonable" contract, I have to do the exact opposite with the management of the Washington Nationals in offering Jayson Werth the ungodly sum of $126 million over 7 years. Don't get me wrong, I like Werth and think he's a fine player, but in the MLB world of trying to get value for each dollar, the Nats failed miserably. What other club was offering 7 years to an outfielder who will be 32 in May and has 120 total HRs and a shade over 400 RBIs?!
When Werth was surrounded in the lineup with the likes of Utley, Howard, and Rollins, he feasted and even finished in the top 10 in MVP voting last year. Unfortunately, Werth will be playing his games in Washington's spacious park now, which should decrease his power totals. The real problem isn't that the Nationals went out and got themselves an All-Star caliber outfielder; the issue is that they thought they needed to pay him for 7 years in order to obtain his services! Like Zito, Soriano, Mo Vaughn, and others, this deal will never pan out to be a good move, despite Werth's potential success in the next couple years.
My fear for the Nationals franchise is that when fellow uber-talented Boras clients like Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg are faced with free agency, the Nats will have to take the San Diego approach and admit that they can't afford them and trade them ahead of their prime for more prospects. You know why? Because they'll be busy paying an average outfielder nearing 40 $18 million per year! Sigh.
Need one more reason to explain to others why the Werth contract isn't "worth" it? Washington GM Mike Rizzo had this to say about Werth, whose uncle is former shortstop Dick Schofield and whose grandpa played in the majors: "I've been a fan of his lineage and his family." What?! You happen to know and admire a middle infielder with a dismal career OBP of .308, so you completely overpay for his nephew? Meanwhile, the better hitter you already had on your team for two years (Dunn) and never caused any problems in the clubhouse is a year younger and just signed somewhere else for 3 LESS years and $4 million per year LESS?! Nationals fan, it's going to be a long decade in Washington.
Derek Jeter and his agent are trying to call the Yankees "bluff" of $15 million per season. Meanwhile, other teams like the Chicago White Sox are in the business of making quality signings at reasonable prices. In the latest Hot Corner, The Commish explains why the ChiSox signing of Adam Dunn may just be the best value for talent the league has seen in recent years.