Going into the 2008 offseason the Lerner group promised the fans of the Washington Nationals that the club would land a big name free agent.
In their sights was one man in particular, the biggest fish in the free agency sea, first basemen Mark Teixeira. It seemed destine to happen, too. Teixeira was from the D.C/Maryland area and the Nationals had the most money to offer to him out of all his suitors. The Nats made their push for the slugger and they let everyone know about it.
Then on December 23rd , Teixeira, out of nowhere, signed an eight-year, $180 million deal with the New York Yankees.
Merry Christmas, Washington.
Desperate, the Nationals combed the now depleted free agent market to try and find some sort of bat to support their young star Ryan Zimmerman. More importantly the Nationals had to make some sort of signing to save the franchise from embarrassment in the media, and ridicule by their fan base.
February rolled around and the Nats had yet to make any type of splash in free agency. There was only one man available who had himself suffered a disappointing offseason, Adam Dunn. Dunn had the numbers, and had expected a major deal. The Nationals had the money, and had expected to sign a marquee name. Both were avoided in the market, for whatever reason.
The two struck a short-term deal, a compromise for both sides. The Nats got a premium talent at only $10 million a year and Adam Dunn got a place to showcase his talent for two years before hitting what he hopes will be a better market.
Now, six months later, time has shed light on the 2008/2009 offseason. The Washington Nationals can now look back and evaluate how what once seemed as ill fate may have turned to great fortune.
The Yankees are currently paying Teixeira $20 million in salary this season, plus a $5 million signing bonus. While that number will slowly increase per year, it is currently one of the highest salaries in professional sports. In return for $25 million in 2009 the Pin Stripes have received a first basemen who is hitting .284/.380/.547 with 32 homers, 101 RBI, and 70 BB to 90K.
That’s $781,000 per homer, $247,000 per RBI, and $27,000 per OPS point.
The Nationals on the other hand are currently paying Adam Dunn $8 million in 2009 with no flair aside from his salary. In return the Nats are receiving a first basemen who is hitting .282/.417/.578 with 35 homers, 91 RBI, and 100 BB/147 K.
That translates to $228,571 per homer, $87,000 per RBI, and $8,000 per OPS point.
It seems that with the season almost over the Nationals lucked into the far better deal as their slugger is having the same season as the Yankees’ one but for an exponentially better price. Even better for the Nats, Dunn is only locked into a two-year deal so they are not pigeon holed as their big man first basemen ages. Dunn also does not have a no trade clause, unlike Texeira, allowing the Nationals more flexibility.
For the short term this deal works for the Nationals because it gives them a player equal to Teixeira’s ability at the plate, and it does so for less salary. It also gives them a slugger to endure several losing seasons while still attempting to put a competitive team on the field with stars that will appease the fans. Dunn is the perfect rent-a-star that the Nationals need to take them to the 2011 offseason when their talent will be developed enough to start making effective free agent moves.
In the long run this will help the club by clearing up their post 2011 payroll. They will need as much money as they can to sign their young prospects to extensions as well as go after relevant free agents when they are in a position to compete. The Yankees will be stuck paying Teixeira $22.5 million in 2016, will he still be worth it?
Be thankful he rejected the Nats, they are in way better shape today as a result.