Winter Meetings: Former Dodgers OF Jayson Werth hits the free-agent jackpot
Former Dodgers outfielder Jayson Werth went from being a rich man to being a very, very rich man on Sunday, inking a seven-year, $126-million contract with the Washington Nationals on the eve of baseball’s winter meetings.
Asked if Werth would spend some of his newly acquired wealth to once again be treated by Vladimir Shpunt, Werth’s agent laughed.
"You’ve been reading too much," Scott Boras said.
Shpunt is a Russian physicist-turned-healer who used to be on the Dodgers’ payroll to beam positive energy from his Boston home to help the team win. When Werth was playing for the Dodgers in 2005 and plagued by wrist problems, he was referred to Shpunt by Jamie McCourt.
Werth left the Dodgers the following year and became a star of sorts with the Philadelphia Phillies, where he put himself into position to sign a deal that is equal in value and length to the contract Barry Zito signed with the San Francisco Giants in the winter of 2006-07.
The ramifications of the deal should be far-reaching, establishing a standard that will have to be exceeded by a team hoping to sign Carl Crawford, the top free-agent outfielder. The Angels are among the teams targeting Crawford.
Boras said he pushed the Nationals to commit to a long-term deal by saying he wanted to make sure Werth would still be with the rebuilding club when it became a contender.
Werth will be 38 when the deal expires.
Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo said he felt comfortable of awarding him a contract of that length because of the way he takes care of himself.
"Jayson’s best days haven’t been had yet," Rizzo said.
The Phillies, Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles were among the other teams that pursued Werth, according to a baseball source familiar with the situation.
-- Dylan Hernandez in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Photo: Jayson Werth. Credit: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images