PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 23: Jayson Werth #28 of the Philadelphia Phillies looks on against the San Francisco Giants in Game Six of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 23 2010 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Nationals Sign Jayson Werth To Mammoth Seven-Year Contract

While Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford were at the top of this free agent class, Werth is first to cash in, getting a massive deal from one of the Phillies' NL East rivals.

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Jayson Werth Contract With Nationals Angers Rest Of League

Sunday afternoon, Jayson Werth signed a seven-year contract with the Nationals that caught most everyone by surprise. It's a big moment for the Nationals and their fans, who aren't accustomed to seeing the team make that kind of commitment to an elite-level player. However, the rest of the league is less than thrilled.

A selection of tweets from Buster Olney:

The werth contract has stunned people in the game, because of it's magnitude

The Werth contract has had an impact of an 8.0 earthquake. Rival gms, execs are going nuts about the terms.

Last contract that generated this kind of vitriol was Kevin brown deal

The reason other teams aren't happy is that, if Jayson Werth can get seven guaranteed years and $126 million, guys like Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Beltre can up their demands as well. This offseason had already seen a fair bit of inflation in the market, but Werth's is the wildest contract yet, and it's caught a lot of front offices off guard. Suddenly, the players have more leverage.

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Jayson Werth Contract A Big Splash As Nationals Enter 'Phase Two'

Sunday afternoon, the Washington Nationals made waves when they suddenly signed Jayson Werth to a seven-year contract. Werth was previously being most heavily pursued by the Red Sox and Tigers, and the Nationals came out of left field, blowing Werth away with an enormous offer.

According to general manager Mike Rizzo, the Nationals made a big splash on purpose to signal the beginning of "Phase Two". What is Phase Two?

Phase two, as Rizzo described, is one where the Nationals will look to become more aggressive in adding impact players in the trade and free agent markets, with their goal being to make a push to become more competitive and win the NL East.

The Nationals have been bad for a while, and previously weren't considered to be a very desirable destination. The Werth contract is a big one - almost certainly too big - but what it does do is show the rest of the league that the team is willing to make a commitment to winning. Signing Jayson Werth for seven years is an attention-grabber.

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Jayson Werth Signs With Nationals For Seven Years, $126 Million

Jayson Werth's deal with the Washington Nationals is now more than close.

Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweets that Werth and the Nationals is done, and worth $126 million over seven years.

That's a huge deal, much bigger than Jason Bay's contract with the Mets, thought to be one of the frameworks for any deal Werth and his agent Scott Boras would negotiate this offseason. It's also a ton of money to give to a 31-year-old outfielder, and one that tacks on an extra year to the six-year deal Werth was seeking and considered unlikely to get.

There's no breakdown of what Werth will earn when, but averaging $126 million out over seven years would give Werth a cool $18 million/year from now until he turns 38 in 2017. That's a great contract from his perspective — unless, of course, he wanted to win right away.

From the Nationals' perspective, it's a big risk. Werth will have to keep slugging and stay healthy to even come close to performing at a level commensurate with this deal.

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Report: Jayson Werth Close To A Deal With Nationals

It was assumed that Jayson Werth would be in search of a big payday as a free agent this offseason. And it was long rumored that the Nationals might be interested in making some moves and spending some money. But Werth to the Nationals? That would be a bit of a surprise.

And yet, that's what MLB.com's Todd Zolecki is reporting is in the works, citing sources that said Werth's agent, Scott Boras, was close to inking a deal for Werth with the Nationals.

That would be a big, if expected, loss for the Phillies, and an especially painful one if Werth helped the improving Nationals make up for the loss of Adam Dunn with some middle-of-the-order pop. It would also be one of this offseason's more unexpected moves: recent speculation linked Werth with the Red Sox and Tigers, not the Nats, and Werth's asking price was expected to be a sum that only some of the biggest teams in the majors could afford.

So what could have swayed Werth to Washington? A six-year offer, rumored to be Werth's desired contract length, would probably be a fairly persuasive proposition.

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Jayson Werth Being Pursued By Red Sox, Tigers

While free agent Jayson Werth hasn't drummed up the kind of offseason action that we've seen around guys like Carl Crawford and Cliff Lee, there is a good amount of interest in the 31-year-old outfielder, and according to Nick Cafardo, two favorites appear to have pulled out into the lead.

The two teams apparently showing the most interest in Werth right now are the Red Sox and Tigers. For the Red Sox, Werth would be just another big bat addition, as the team's already on the verge of an Adrian Gonzalez trade. Because Gonzalez is due just $6.3 million in 2011, budget room would remain to add a player of Werth's caliber.

And while the Tigers have already been busy, signing both Victor Martinez and Joaquin Benoit, they would like to add Werth to upgrade an outfield that currently features Austin Jackson and a host of unproven young players with lower ceilings. Werth would be able to join Martinez and Miguel Cabrera at the heart of a reconstructed lineup.

Expect the talk about Werth to heat up very soon. As of this writing, it appears unlikely that anyone will be willing to offer the six-year contract that Werth is seeking.

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Free Agent Jayson Werth Meets With Red Sox; Seeks Six-Year Contract

The top of this winter's free agent class is pretty clear, with Cliff Lee standing as the best available pitcher, and Carl Crawford standing as the best available position player. But looming just beneath Crawford is the 31-year-old Jayson Werth, and the outfielder is also looking to cash in on an impressive track record of performance.

Werth had the best offensive season of his career in 2010, and has batted .282 with the Phillies since 2007 with an .885 OPS. He's also demonstrated an ability to play every position in the outfield, and his broad array of talents comes together to make him one of the more valuable players in the game.

And Werth intends to get paid like it. According to the Boston Herald, Werth is looking to sign at least a six-year contract that would lock him up through 2016. Whether he actually gets that much has yet to be seen, but Werth and agent Scott Boras have set the bar high.

The teams who will get involved in the bidding for Werth are unclear, but the favorite right now is considered to be the Red Sox. They have both the money and the need, and on Wednesday general manager Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona met with Werth and Boras at an airport. If the Angels end up signing Crawford, odds are very high that Werth ends up in Boston.

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