"Projected 2011 payroll: $63,791,429 (23rd)
2010 payroll: $66,275,000 Opening Day (24th), $71,937,323 year-end (24th)
Future commitments: $44.596 million for 2012, $35.921 million for 2013, $22.721 million for 2014, $23.821 million for 2015, $21.570 for 2016"
While we've heard it before, I'm still shocked every time that I see our payroll is lower this season than last. After all, the club added their largest contract in franchise history (by far) when they inked Jayson Werth to a seven-year $126 million contract this winter. That contract, plus the perception that the Nationals had an open wallet when they were courting just about every starting pitcher on the free-agent market and the trading block, led us to feel like the Nats were spending more than they actually were this winter.
The truth is that when you consider that the contracts of Cristian Guzman, Adam Dunn, and Josh Willingham came off the books, the Nationals saved money.
Another large reason for the Nats low payroll this season is that the contract Werth signed this winter is extremely back loaded. Werth is set to make just $10 million in 2011, which is less than even Adam Dunn made last season. His contract quickly jumps to $13 million in 2012, $16 million in 2013, $20 million in 2014, and $21 million each year in 2015, 16, and 17.
The deal was struck this way to give the National the flexibility to go out and make other big splash's in free agency ...and the Nationals tried...hard. They were early players for the winter’s biggest prize, Cliff Lee, who ended up signing for even more than Werth. They agreed upon a deal with the Brewers for former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke which had a multi-million dollar contract extension included in it for the hurler, but Greinke himself put the nix on that deal. The club also tried to get a strong first basemen, but ended up settling for their last serious choice, Adam LaRoche.
Striking out more often this winter than Mark Reynolds (decided to spare Adam Dunn on that one), the club has put themselves in a precarious position with Werth's back loaded contract. The initial strategy seemed to add a few stars to the club up front, and pay for it later once the revenue came in from a rejuvenated fan base and a winning ball club...Now, however, the Nationals have an ever increasing contract for Werth that will become more and more expensive as the Nats will look to re-sign guys like Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, and Bryce Harper.
That's not to say the club is screwed. The players listed above, who the Nats will eventually have to re-sign, are potentially talented enough on their own to help bring this team to competition. If that happens it is very likely the city will rally around the team, and Rizzo will have enough cash to keep these guys together.
The risk still remains however, and we have to identify that Werth's back loaded contract was a short-term gamble by the Nationals front office with the belief they could add more firepower this year. Washington wanted to buy relevance in the standings, but outside of Werth they may have fell flat. The Nationals will very likely be a losing team again this season, and with their low payroll it may have helped the Nationals to put more of Werth's money up front when the size of his contract wont hurt them.
normally do not put much stock in what Ladson thinks but I do listen to what his 'connections" have to say as "they" appear to be pretty good albeit not as good as Boz's:
Could Nats deal a catcher?
The Washington National begin full squad workouts early next week, but pitchers and catchers reported Thursday. The club has three catchers in camp that figure to compete for the two jobs on the 25-man roster, but Bill Ladson tweets that the starting gig is not up for grabs, as veteran Ivan Rodriguez will handle the regular duties.
Battling for the backup spot are Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores. Flores would seem to have a leg up heading into camp, but Ramos might be the club's future at the position, and the future is likely to start sometime in in 2011, writes Mark Zuckerman.
We say "might" because the Nationals have a catching prospect that has made marked progress defensively the past year or so that is likely the better option long term. ESPN Insider's Keith Law chimes in with a scouting report.
Ladson adds Saturday that the Nationals could trade Ramos or Flores for pitching, and such a move could happen by Opening Day. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
- Jason A. Churchill
Keith Law No. 33: Derek Norris, C -- Washington "Norris has gotten something of a bad rep as a catcher, which could be the Nichols Law of Catcher Defense (the worse a catcher's bat, the better his defensive reputation) working in reverse, as Norris is fine behind the plate and won't have to move unless he gets hurt. He has an above-average arm with a quick enough release, and he's agile enough to block balls and be at least an average receiver. And that's all good news, because Norris can hit. He's always had outstanding plate discipline, and he pairs that with a sound swing with excellent rotation and upper-body strength that should produce above-average or better power down the road. His performance suffered in 2010 as he recovered from a broken hamate bone that occurred during instructional league the previous fall, an injury that can sap power for 12 to 18 months. Look for Norris to move up to Double-A this year and pick up where he left off in 2009, getting on base and hitting for power while playing adequate or better defense behind the dish."
I'm not convinced that money is enough to lure a top line FA. Sure, they like money, but they also want to play in the post-season. Signing with the Nats may bring money, but signing one or even two first tier FA is not going to make the Nats be competitive in the NL East.
Rizzo's not done yet. You're counting those "chickens" before they are hatched. The Nats do have some surpluses that could be leveraged into ensuing trades.
@TheNatsBlog There is a really huge surplus of relievers: (Read TBR, Cincinnati, etc.) Surplus of left-handed starters and innings eaters (LA, St. Louis, NYY, etc.), Surplus of MI (A. Gonzalez, Cora, Hairston, Desmond, Espinosa, Bixler, and Lombardozzi). (St. Louis, LA, etc.)
Its hard to see behind Rizzo's inscrutable mask when it comes to trades and negotiation with other
franchises. He abhors MLBTR especially when they "let the cat out of the bag". And as with last year it all depends on what seems to fit with his vision, plan, and adaptable time frame for getting the Nats into contention. If its not this year then strategic trades for prospects would seem to be in the offing?While awaiting the improved free agent pool and the return of Strasburg next year. If pitchers like Ross Detwiler (apparently "the pitcher" of ST 2011 at this point), Garret Mock, Jordan Zimmermann, and Yunesky Maya finally get it can do for the Nats what the young prospect pitchers did for the A's last year? What happens to pitchers like Marquis and Lannan? Given that rubber-armed Livo is probably the best "innings eater" and someone who "fits" and is past a point where he could be easily parlayed into prospects?
It seems reasonable to withhold judgement until around the All Star break. At that point hopefully the front office's machinations will become clear.
@anonymous255 any predictions?
I've got the Nats payroll at $63,922,000 (small discrepancy by guessing what all our remaining 40-man guys will earn). Completely agree though on the team salary. Werth's contract AAV is $18M, so a $10M 2011 number is pretty deceiving. It is also deceiving since we're not counting the prorated portions of Harper and Strasburg's bonuses into their 2011 salary.
Either way, you can't really fault Management here. They tried to give their money away numerous times to marquee FAs. They tried to upgrade the pitching. Honestly the Nats need to show a respectable season, get Strasburg back and next off season they may be able to get the guys they want.
A better farm system will help too; better and more prospects will lead to better players available via acquisition.
@ToddBoss Great comment, and I agree, the front office really did try here...hopefully things will go beter at the deadline and next winter