Monday, December 06, 2010

Werth deal still the talk of Lake Buena Vista

By Chris Ruddick

Leave it to the Washington Nationals to steal the show at Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings.

Wait what?

Even after the Boston Red Sox finally put the finishing touches on their acquisition of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres all anyone wanted to talk about on Monday was Washington's outrageous deal with outfielder Jayson Werth.

In case you were living under a rock or captivated by a full dose of NFL action on Sunday you may have missed that the Nationals agreed with the former Phillies slugger on a seven-year, $126 million deal, easily the most lucrative contract in team history.

Werth's deal is actually $6 million more than what the franchise sold for in 2002.

Essentially, Werth replaces Adam Dunn in the lineup. You can argue whether or not he is an upgrade, but wouldn't Washington have been better served re- signing Dunn and adding a couple of pitchers, like a Carl Pavano or a Jorge De La Rosa, than putting all their eggs in the Werth basket?

The Nats don't strike me as a win-now team and this is a win-now move.

Maybe we shouldn't be so surprised, though. The Nats were on the periphery of Mark Teixeira a few years ago and are always linked to some big names. While most people laugh them off when their name would come up, maybe this was a move to let everyone know that they can start to be taken seriously.

Bottom line was they made a nice offer to Teixeira before the 2009 campaign. It wasn't enough. They wanted to make a splash and gave Werth an offer he couldn't refuse. They had to blow him out of the water to come there and they did.

I think Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said it best, however.

"It makes some of our contracts look pretty good," Alderson said. "That's a long time and a lot of money. I thought they were trying to reduce the deficit in Washington."

Speaking of the Red Sox, no surprise that they completed the Gonzalez deal. I didn't buy the news on Sunday that the deal was falling apart because of the lack of an extension. They had come to far to back out because of that and everyone knows a deal is going to get done with him at some point.

The Red Sox were always the most logical fit for Gonzalez. He is going to rake at Fenway Park and keep in mind San Diego general manager Jed Hoyer worked for Boston GM Theo Epstein. He knows the Red Sox system very well. Hoyer got exactly what he wanted from Boston.


Not to be outdone by their brothers along The Beltway, the Baltimore Orioles added a bat as well, as they acquired slugging third baseman Mark Reynolds from the Arizona Diamondbacks for a pair of right-handers in David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio.

Reynolds belted 32 homers and drove in 85 runs while batting a dismal .198 in 145 games last season. He also topped 200 strikeouts for the third year in a row with 211.

The 27-year-old University of Virginia product has recorded 121 homers and 346 RBI over his four big league seasons, but has also fanned 767 times. He led the National League in strikeouts each of the last three years.

It was no secret that Baltimore was looking for a bat and had actually been linked to free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre, whose options seem to be dwindling by the minute.


The event that really kicks off the Winter Meetings is the Veterans Committee announcement of their Hall of Fame selections. This year was a pretty stacked ballot as former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was listed, as was former Players Association head honcho Marvin Miller and former general manager Pat Gillick.

Gillick, though, was the only candidate among 12 that received the necessary 75 percent vote from the 16-member committee, which considered a ballot of eight former players, three executives and one manager whose contributions to the game were most significant from 1973 through the present. He received 13 votes, one more than the required 12 for induction.

Steinbrenner, who bought the New York Yankees in 1973 and died July 13, was also on the ballot. He received less than eight votes.

Miller came up just short with 11 votes, while former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Dave Concepcion received eight votes. Ted Simmons, Vida Blue, Steve Garvey, Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Billy Martin, Al Oliver and Rusty Staub also received fewer than eight votes.

"We are thrilled to have Pat as the newest member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and we welcome him into the Hall of Fame family," said Hall of Fame Chairman of the Board Jane Forbes Clark. "Pat's consistent excellence as a talent evaluator and team builder has been evident at every step throughout his brilliant career, constructing three World Series champions with his teams making 11 postseason appearances."

Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremonies are set for Sunday, July 24, 2011.


I have been here for about a half hour and I can already tell you whose name is going to be bandied about the most this week and that is former American League Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke.

Greinke's name has been linked to about six teams already, but the two that make the most sense are the Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays. Something could be cooking with the Blue Jays, as they have already sent righty Shaun Marcum to Milwaukee, leaving a big spot open in their rotation.

Could a Kyle Drabek for Greinke deal be in the works? We will see, but I am betting dollars to doughnuts he is dealt this week.

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