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Will Any Of This Winter's Free Agent Deals Be Epic Failures?

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In the wake of Andy MacPhail's designation of Alex Rodriguez's 10-year, $252 million contract as the worst ever -- a designation that's certainly arguable, by the way -- I got to wondering if we might someday think terrible things about one of this winter's big deals ...

Really, there are only three candidates. No, I'm not a big fan of the Orioles spending $15 million and hoping that Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero can push the club to 82 wins or something. But both of those guys were signed for just one year, and one-year deals just can't do the sort of damage as long-term deals.

There were only two mega-deals this winter, and one semi-mega-deal:

  • the Nationals signed Jayson Werth for seven years and $126 million;
  • the Red Sox signed Carl Crawford for seven years and $142 million; and
  • the Rangers signed Adrian Beltre for five years and $80 million.

It's hard to get worked up over Beltre's deal, given the length and the $14 million Average Annual Value (AAV). Still, it's a little odd, isn't it? Beltre turns 32 this spring, and he's been worth $14 million in only three of the last six seasons. On the other hand, he's been worth an average of $16 million in those six seasons. Figuring normal aging curve and normal salary inflation, $14 million per season actually seems just about right. As long as management can handle Beltre's usual ups and downs.

What can you say about Carl Crawford? Well, he's coming off his best season and the Red Sox might have overpaid some because of that. In 76 games at Fenway Park, he's got a .301 on-base percentage (though that probably is mostly the Red Sox pitchers, and some bad luck). People will tell you that fast players don't age well, but the opposite is actually true; Crawford's still got the skills of a young man, which should serve him well as he plows into this 30.

What can you say about Jayson Werth? I've been hard on this one, saying more than once that Werth's (almost) 32 and has just one great season under his belt. Well, to some degree that depends on which defensive metrics you're looking at. Essentially, Werth has been an excellent player since the Phillies first gave him a chance to play in 2007. Will he still be excellent when he's 37 and 38 years old? Still worth $18 million?

Werth's contract probably won't be historically awful. But I'm willing to bet that whoever's running the Nationals in 2016 is wishing it would just go away.