Good News On the Door Step?

On Friday, Paul noted a series of bad-news stories in the Washington Post, if you are a D.C. area sports fan. One of them related to Adam Dunn’s departure from the Washington Nationals. Today, good news arrived for Washington sports fans, as the Nationals announced the signing of right fielder Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126 million contract.
Is that really good news? As an American League fan, I haven’t seen much of Werth in action. But in 2010 he hit .296 with 27 homers and 85 RBIs. Those are good numbers, but not great ones. And at age 31, the Nationals are not buying the best years of Werth’s career; certainly not, in the post-steroid era, in the out-years of a seven-year deal. So is Werth really worth anything close to $126 million?
As a sports fan, maybe you don’t have to care. Most fans nowadays yearn for owners with bottomless pockets who can spend way too much, arguably, but bring their fans a title. Whether that approach actually works is debatable; teams that have to meet some kind of a budget, like the Minnesota Twins, seem to do better over time. (Yes, the Twins did sign Joe Mauer to an eight-year, $184 million contract, but he was a 26-year-old future Hall of Fame catcher, not a 31-year-old right fielder who has made, I believe, one All-Star team.) On the other hand, the Twins can’t get past the Yankees in the post-season, so shrewd management and a more or less balanced budget only take you so far.
If you are a Nationals fan, signing Werth more or less makes up for the loss of Dunn. Still, if I lived in D.C., I would prefer that the Nats invest $100 million in, say, scouting in Latin America as opposed to signing 31-year-old pretty good outfielders.

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