Nationals sign Jayson Werth, but they should have kept Adam Dunn


Adam Dunn plays first base as Stephen Strasburg pitches for the Nationals last summer. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

The Washington Nationals signed free agent outfielder Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126 million deal Sunday, a contract that is the 13th-largest in major league history and will end when Werth is 38.

Werth hit 27 home runs and drove in 85 runs last year for the Philadelphia Phillies.  He also hit .296, stole 54 bases, and had a National League-leading 46 doubles for the NL East division champs.  The Nationals had to overpay Werth to attract him to Washington, which has averaged 99 losses the past three seasons.

The move comes after the Nationals refused to resign slugger Adam Dunn to a four-year contract and allowed him to sign with the Chicago White Sox for four years and $56 million.  Washington offered Dunn a three-year deal and $35 million at the end of the 2010 season.

Dunn was a consistent power hitter during his two seasons with the Nationals, hitting 38 home runs each season with 105 and 103 runs batted in.  Dunn has more home runs over the past decade (354) than all but three major league players and hit 38 homers or more in each of the last eight seasons.

Werth is a good player, but the Nats should have kept Dunn.

For a franchise that has never had a winning season, struggled with mediocre attendance, plays games on a TV station that has no programming at all during certain times of the day, and features a vacant lot full of broken concrete instead of restaurants and bars across from its stadium, the Nats haven’t catered much to the wishes of the fans, who clearly wanted Dunn to stay.  Dunn wanted to remain a Nat as well.

Dunn will continue to chew gum, blow bubbles and use his relaxed swing to slam colossal home runs over the fence, but it will be in Chicago, not Washington.  Meanwhile, Werth will try to prove he is worth the Nats’ investment.

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