Werth to Washington

By R.J. Anderson //

Separating current value from future value is a must in the world of transaction analysis; less so in the fantasy world, where so many leagues go with limited (or no) stability from year-to-year. Understanding that is paramount to understanding the negative reaction to Jayson Werth’s signing in the real world. The common critical points arising are that seven years is too long for someone Werth’s age (31), that $126 million is too much, and that the Nationals will not benefit from this deal when they are nearing competitor status. And yet, none of that matters in the fantasy world.

Werth is one of baseball’s best right fielders offensively or defensively. Over the last three seasons he’s hit .279/.376/.513 while averaging 29 home runs per season, 84 runs batted in, and 8 steals. His ability to steal bases and play defense is important to note. Whereas a player like Adam Dunn – whom Werth ostensibly replaces in the Nationals’ lineup – derives much of his value from hitting home runs and drawing walks – like Werth — receives criticism for his skill set that ages poorly, Werth is more athletic and should age better. That does not mean Werth will live up to that line this season, though, it just means don’t expect a sudden collapse.

What everyone should expect is for Werth’s new ballpark to limit his home runs. Not egregiously, but a few here and there. Citizen’s Bank Park is one of the kindest to right-handed batters in the game. Nationals Park isn’t mean to them, but it’s not nearly as charitable. The other aspect of the Nationals’ organization that may affect Werth is the talent around him. Werth batted behind Chase Utley and Ryan Howard last season, sometimes far enough behind that he didn’t benefit fully from their ability to reach base. With Washington, he figures to bat ahead of or directly behind Josh Willingham and Ryan Zimmerman, who both got on base roughly 39% of the time last season.

With young talent like Danny Espinoza, Ian Desmond, and of course Bryce Harper potentially filling out the Washington lineup sooner than later, there’s a chance Werth can continue to knock in 85-plus a season to along with 25 or so home runs and a .275 or so batting average. He shouldn’t rise up your charts because of this signing, but he shouldn’t fall either.

For more on Jayson Werth, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Front Office.  

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