We handed out some praise this afternoon, but now, we turn our attention to those moves that were somewhat less impressive. The criteria remains the same – we’re looking for transactions that significantly weakened a franchises ability to contend, or moves that simply just don’t appear to make much sense.
Now, for the presentations, let’s go to the podium.
Worst Free Agent Signing – Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals
There were some players who got eyebrow-raising deals this winter, but no one drew the audible “he got what?!?” gasps besides Werth. The first day of the winter meetings just consisted of a few hundred stunned group of people wandering the halls with looks of shock and confusion. $126 million for Jayson Werth. No one could believe it.
I like Jayson Werth as a player. He’s been a consistent +5 win guy for the last three years, and he makes the Nationals a better team than they were without him. Still, with Stephen Strasburg on the shelf and Bryce Harper in the minors, this is an organization whose focus should be squarely on the future, and while Werth’s deal may pay off for the next few years, it is hard to see this being anything besides a long term problem. By the time the rest of Washington’s roster is ready to contend, Werth will likely be a tough-to-trade albatross who isn’t producing enough to justify his salary. Perhaps, in another context, you could justify this deal based on a closing window to contend and the long term value of increasing the odds of winning it all in 2011. That’s not the Nationals context, though, and it’s just tough to come up with any kind of scenario where Werth returns $126 million in value to the team that actually signed him.
It’s possible that Werth ends up aging really well and that he’s still a valuable contributor to a contending Nationals team in a few years. I wouldn’t bet on that outcome, though, and I certainly wouldn’t bet $126 million on that outcome.
Worst Trade Acquisition – Vernon Wells, Anaheim Angels
The problem with this mini-series is that this single move makes a few of these selections pretty boring. The Jays dumping Wells was an easy choice for the best move of the winter, so conversely, the Angels acquiring him is a pretty natural fit for the worst acquisition via trade. I don’t want to pile on Wells, and we’ve already written thousands of words about that deal, so let’s just leave it at this – there’s a chance that Wells could sustain his 2010 performance for the next four years, stay completely healthy, and show no effects of aging in his mid-30s. There’s also a chance Myspace makes a raging comeback and becomes the king of social media again. I’m not sure which one is more plausible.
Worst Move Overall – Acquiring Vernon Wells, Anaheim Angels
Sorry, Angels fans. This move is that bad.