The Washington Nationals, bridesmaids in the pursuit of big-name free agents during their short history, shocked baseball Sunday by signing coveted outfielder Jayson Werth(notes) to a seven-year, $126 million contract.
It was the third monumental moment for the Nationals over the last 18 months, the two via the draft, when they selected pitcher Stephen Strasburg(notes) and outfielder Bryce Harper with their No. 1 overall picks in 2009 and 2010. Guaranteeing Werth an $18 million-a-year deal provides a far bigger splash, however, and is a big risk for a player who until three years ago never played full-time.
“It's a big day for the Washington Nationals,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “He'll be a centerpiece of our ballclub on the field in our clubhouse.”
“We have more holes to fill, more work to do,” Rizzo said, “and we're aggressively going from here and beyond.”