According to Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors, the Washington Nationals spent the second most money this offseason by shelling out $128.5 million in December. The club fell short of the first place Boston Red Sox who spent $172 million:
Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m thrilled with how that money has been divvied up though.
Most notably, the Nationals entered the winter with two major needs: a top of the line starting pitcher and an everyday first baseman. Unfortunately they are quickly approaching spring training and have acquired none of those needs, despite the massive amounts of money they have spent. While they made strong bids for Cliff Lee and Zack Greinke, in reality they were only able to land a couple of possibly washed up former stars (Wang and Ankiel) and a frontline starting outfielder, Jayson Werth. Furthermore, they failed to lock up the player who ended up being the most valuable first baseman on the market, Adam Dunn.
Now, failing to meet your offseason goals isn’t the end of the world. Sometimes the cards just don’t fall your way. Lee clearly wanted to go back to the city where he previously won a World Series, regardless of money. A deal for Greinke was in place but was vetoed, and there just wasn’t a large market for first-basemen not named Adam Dunn this winter. However, if a team is going to go out and spend the second most money out of any team in baseball, committing to hundreds of millions of dollars, you’d expect that money to at the very least go a long way, if not make the team better.
While the Nationals added Jayson Werth (5.0 WAR), Ankiel (0.7 WAR) and Wang (DNP), they also lost Josh Willingham (2.7 WAR) and Adam Dunn (3.9 WAR), equalling a net loss for the winter of 2010. Not the most encouraging sign for a team that can’t afford to show anything but progress on the field in 2011.
Breaking down the numbers, it also doesn’t look like the club got as much bang for their buck this winter as other teams:
1. Red Sox $172 million -12.5 WAR acquired - $13.76 million per WAR (note this doesn’t include trade for Adrian Gonzalez)
2. Nationals $128.5 million – 5.7 WAR acquired – $22.5 million per WAR
3. Phillies – $125.5 million – 7.8 WAR acquired – $16 million per WAR
4. White Sox – $120.25 million- 14.3 WAR acquired – $8.4 million per WAR
The White Sox won the winter by accumulating the most amount of talent for the least amount of money. They are also the only team listed above who didn’t sign any players to a $100 million contract this off-season. Makes you wonder about the strategy Rizzo has taken, doesn’t it?