Scott Boras landed Jayson Werth a nine-figure contract with a surprise suitor this afternoon. The Nationals signed the free agent outfielder to a seven-year, $126MM deal. In case any doubt remained, this deal shows that it's a good time to be a free agent. Werth turned three productive seasons into the third biggest deal a free agent outfielder has ever signed.
Manny Ramirez ($160MM, 2000) and Alfonso Soriano ($136MM, 2006) are the only outfielders to sign bigger deals than Werth's. Interestingly, Vernon Wells and Barry Zito both signed deals worth exactly as much as the one Boras just negotiated with the Nationals.
The Phillies offered Werth, a Type A free agent, arbitration, but will not receive the Nats' first-round pick as compensation because Washington's pick is protected. Philadelphia will instead receive the Nats' second-round pick and and a compensatory sandwich-round pick.
It was said earlier this week that the most serious suitors for the 31-year-old were the Phillies, Tigers, and Red Sox. Those three teams were all in on Werth up until the end, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. While Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that Boston got up to four years on Werth, Alex Speier of WEEI.com hears the Sox never made a formal contract offer to the outfielder.
MLB.com's Todd Zolecki first reported that the two sides were nearing agreement. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter) confirmed the deal, Jon Heyman of SI (via Twitter) first reported the length of the contract and Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reported the deal's terms (via Twitter). Rosenthal later tweeted the financial breakdown. Werth's $4MM signing bonus will be payable between January 2011 and January 2012, and his annual salaries are as follows: $10MM, $13MM, $16MM, $20MM, $21MM, $21MM, and $21MM.