A Closer Look at Jayson Werth’s Contract (Or Why the Giants Could’ve Signed Jose Reyes Without Raising Payroll)

Last year the Washington Nationals surprised everybody by signing Free Agent OF Jayson Werth to a 7 year $126 Million contract. While Werth had a disappointing debut in Washington, the Nationals front office did do a good job of structuring his contract in a unique way that could have benefitted the Giants with Reyes.

In the offseason, the common refrain was that the Giants couldn’t afford to add a $15 Million plus player into the payroll. Whether that is true or not-and the use of couldn’t versus wouldn’t is certainly debateable-the common theme was that the Giants payroll wasn’t expected to climb that much higher than it was last year. This would seemingly put them out of the market for Reyes-as well as guys like Jimmy Rollins. However, had the Giants staggered the contract like the Nationals did with Werth’s, they could’ve found away to add arguably the most exciting player in the game to the top of their lineup. That is because last year Jayson Werth made just $10 million and next year will make $13 million before increasing to $16 million in 2013 and $20 million or higher through 2017.

If the Giants had done this with Reyes, paying him above average, but not elite money until the albatrosses of Aaron Rowand and Barry Zito are off the books, and then increasing his salary, the Giants could have potentially found a way to substantially improve their team without dipping too far into Larry Baer and Co’s rainy day fund.


12 thoughts on “A Closer Look at Jayson Werth’s Contract (Or Why the Giants Could’ve Signed Jose Reyes Without Raising Payroll)

  1. I agree with the math. I only wonder if the Giants brass will forever be leery of the back-loaded contract, especially to a player considered to be a veteran. He is by no means ‘old’ and is exactly the same age as when Zito signed his boat anchor. I suppose more solace can be found in the idea that he isn’t a pitcher, but then the Rowand debacle rears its ugly mug. He was signed off of a career year too.

    I suppose there’s risk in any contract though. If it can be done, it should be done. I simply don’t think Sabean will pull such a trigger. And if so, why not attack Fielder instead? Power can be overrated, but I forsee many baseballs soaking in the brine of McCovey Cove with him at 1B. Yes, I know. Pipe dreams.

    • I like Reyes better than Fielder in terms of fit, because the Giants have already spent a lot of money at 1B with Huff and have Brandon Belt close to being ready to take over, whereas they have no one who’s really ready to make a major impact at the ML level and it’s debate able whether any of their prospects become even solid-regulars at SS

    • I’m assuming the Giants probably can’t (or won’t) add that much money now. But, yeah it is still technically possible that the Giants could swoop in and sign him.

  2. You nailed the type of contract the Giants would have to offer Reyes. No way he looks west without Werth/Zito money. But bringing up Werth, which is looking like a bad signing immediately and can turn absolutely Zitonian without an uptick in production from the formally bearded one, gives one pause when considering Reyes.

    Reyes punishing triples alley and being a terror on the bases, kick starting our offense would be awesome. But before buying into that dream, I’d look long and hard at the past 3 years for Jose. He’s played 36, 133 and 126 games. The 36 was due mainly to the Thyroid condition which should be in the past, but the quad and hamstring injuries won’t be going away. So do you want to commit that 7/126 to a guy who will play maybe 130 games a year? He has a me-first reputation and has quit on managers. Throw in his contract year stats – 353 BABIP, 7% K rate and 384 OBP all way above his career norms – and more importantly the fact he had 1 triple and 9 SBs after his hamstring injury and our hopes of triples alley/terror on the bases might become a nightmare more similar to Zito, or the way Werth looks to be going.

    I can’t be mad at the Giants for walking away from that type of commitment. I do wish they would be in on the negotiation to either make sure some team does pay that (likely with all the interest and the wasteland at Short) and in the unlikely scenario things break down and we can get him on a shorter prove it contract or more money up front. But 7 years, especially with the likely unpleasant scenario at the end paying 20MM as his speed fades and injuries mount, doesn’t look like a good bet. Speed doesn’t slump, it gets injured. And over time it fades. I’d rather the Gints pay big money for middle order slugger types.

    • Reyes is definitely risky, and FWIW I would be hesitant to guarantee him 7 years. That said the Giants window of opportunity is very closely related to their pitching and given the price of Cain/Lincecum and how perfect of a fit Reyes is to the team, I think the risk would’ve been worth it.

  3. It’s curious that you would use Werth’s contract as the reference point. It’s a pretty bad contract.

    The problem with a long term backloaded contract is that by the time the backload kicks in, the Giants will have to be paying big money not only to Cain and Lincecum but also to Bumgarner and possibly Posey and Sandoval too. It just backs them into too much of a corner financially for too long.

    • I just used because he’s a recent example of this type of a heavy backloaded deal. You make a good point about the Giants young core but I do think payroll will continue to rise a bit, so some of that cost could be alleviated.

    • The Giants are under a bigger financial pressure this season, FYI, as they had amortized their stadium for 10 years per MLB revenue sharing rules, and their 10 years were up last season, so they are now paying even more money into the revenue sharing black hole than during the 2010’s.

      Just counting off what we might owe to our core young players – Lincecum $25-30M, Cain $20M, Bumgarner $8-10M, Sandoval $15-20M, Posey $8-10M – when Reyes backloaded contract kicks in big time, that’s around $76M-90M during that time, just for these 5. Assuming Sabean keeps the bullpen stocked, that’s another $20-30M for them. Then there is there rest of the roster, even with Brown, Panik, Crawford, Belt presumed to be making relatively low money, some may be entering arbitration at that point.

      I still believe that any big money free agent signing today means that we lose one of our young players in the future because he won’t fit into the payroll.

      In addition, a major forecasting service made the call that the U.S. is headed into another recession in the next year or so, so I would not count your payroll rises until they hatch.

  4. Pingback: Linkin' Round The Cove - Nov 28, 2011 - Around the Foghorn - A San Francisco Giants Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and More

  5. Pingback: Giants Should Have Been More Aggressive In Pursuit of Jose Reyes » Giants Nirvana | SF Giants Blog

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