Wow, what a start to the Winter Meetings as the Hot Stove is absolutely roaring right now! The biggest deal to go down and the biggest name to land a big deal, Jayson Werth, got settled early on. Werth agreed to a seven year deal worth $126 million with the Washington Nationals, marking the biggest splash the Nats have ever made and the third richest outfielder contract in MLB history (although Carl Crawford's eventual deal with probably be larger). The crazy part of this deal is the fact that it is seven years in length, which is rather long for anybody, let alone a 31 year-old outfielder who has really only had one truly great season ('10) and one other that could be classified as quite good ('09). This could be a great move for the Nats if Jayson continues to post huge seasons through his mid 30's and doesn't decline sharply after the age of 35. If he fizzles, he will be impossible to trade because his salary is so massive, a la Vernon Wells. Mix this with that fact that he is blocking Bryce Harper's defensive position and will likely have to move to left field and we are left scratching our heads. Do the Nats really have a plan or are they just trying to sell out the park every night? Hopefully the answer is both. Likely its not.
Derek Jeter had to end up a Yankee in the end and everyone knew it. In fact, Jeter said he wanted to stay in pinstripes all along so this wasn't really any mystery. So why did things get nasty between him and the Yanks? Jeter's value has been declining, especially in 2010, but he didn't want to take a paycut when he re-signed. Derek had been making roughly $22 million for the last five years and was reluctant to let that number go and early rumors indicated that he wanted to continue making A-Rod money. The Yankees knew they had no competition to re-sign him so they were more interested in paying him based on his current value rather than his past value. The pair settled on a more "reasonable" number around $17 million per season for three years with a player option for a fourth. Jeter has made no bones about it that he is rather upset that the negotiations became public. This is really his own problem, though, since he was so unwilling to back down from his huge demands until the Yanks went public and used his image against him to get him back to a workable contract. Sorry Derek, but this is what most guys have to go through. Here's to guessing that Jeter hated his first (and presumably) las time being a free agent.
While it may have been laughable that Jeter expected to continue making A-Rod money, one player that also expects those dollars and actually deserves them is Albert Pujols. The Machine has been consistently raking for nearly a decade and playing Gold Glove defense as well. He's signed through 2011 and the Cardinals almost have to keep him in St. Louis, much like Jeter had to stay in New York. He's an icon with the Cardinals and it would be just plain weird to see him play anywhere else. A-Rod signed a 10 year, $275 million contract in 2007 and there's no reason to believe that Pujols won't get something close to that. In fact, Pujols has been consistently more productive than A-Rod over the course of the last decade. The problem with that is that Pujols occupies a much larger portion of the Cardinals payroll than does A-Rod with the Yankees, making it difficult for St. Louis to put enough players around Albert to keep them contenders. Pujols is easily worth $25-$30 million per season and I'm guessing he gets something in the neighborhood of 8 years and $230 million. Whenever it happens, it will be a well-deserved deal despite its gargantuan size and when it goes down, the people of St. Louis will undoubtably dance in the street and chant "Pujols for President!"