The Nats don't have teh moneyz!!!! Poor Tin Cup Ted!!! If they sign Fielder they'll have to let Zimm walk! It's like Sophie's choice except harder because neither of those kids could hit a curveball!
Zuckerman put out two recent articles that attempt to put things in perspective but don't exactly hit at the right points.
The first one notes that if the Nats were to sign Fielder AND re-up Zimmerman they'd likely be paying 3 guys 20+ million from 2014-2017 (Werth being the 3rd). That's a lot of money and he points out that only three teams; the Yankees, the Phillies, and the Angels are currently in line to do that (and in the Angels case it's only currently for one year far down the road). Ok a few things here:
First - man that Werth contract is TERRIBLE. Just soooo bad. Like unforgivable. I'm sorry that I keep harping on it but ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh. I changed my mind. I'm not sorry. It's that bad it deserves to be talked about over and over.
Second, if you are speculating about the Nats, it's only fair to speculate about other teams. The Red Sox, with Crawford and Gonzalez making a ton for the forseeable future, are almost certain to get on this list. The Tigers are one big signing away from joining the 3x20Mill Club and they could use one of those nice pitchers up for FA next year. The Dodgers, if they re-up Billingsly and sign anyone else big, would be in the same boat. I'm sure another team could pop up between now and 2016 and join the club. Let's say three teams do fall into this group before the Phillies fall out. That would mean there would be 6 teams with this kind of financial commitment. That may not seem like a lot but there are only 30 teams. Fully 20% of the teams in major league baseball would be spending money in this manner. Twenty percent is not an elite club. Nobody is holding up signs on Wall Street saying "We're the 80%".
Third, 20 million is just an arbitrary number. Is it that different if the Nats are paying 20 mill and 21 mill to Zimm and Werth and the Rangers are paying 16 million a piece to Michael Young and Adrian Beltre? Payroll is what matters. The total spent on the entire team. For example, the Yankees have 12 players scheduled to make 5 million or more next year. The Phillies and Angels both have 8. The Nationals? Three. Zuckerman though has that covered in his second piece. What he's saying is that the payrolls will go up without any signings due to escalating contracts and arbitration eligibility. What he doesn't even hint at is that without those signings the speculated payroll for 2015 would only have been the 12th highest payroll last year. Basically if the Nats don't sign anyone they'll be spending like the average team... in four years... maybe. I'm not trying to count for the usual inflation that happens. If they sign Zimmerman and Fielder that's another say... 45 million. Ok, that would have been 4th last year. Definite big boy territory but isn't that what they want to be?
The Nats can afford Fielder. Bringing him in would be a gutsy bold move that would signal the Nats are ready to compete now, and it may very well signify a shift that the Nats are ready to become a different type of team. The type that spends to get into the playoffs year after year. That's ultimately what we're finding out this offseason (and next, I won't fully turn on the teams management unless they fail to spend money next offseason as well. Maybe they have a dominant pitching plan.). Do they want to consistently make the playoffs or do they want to spend just enough to have a chance to get in and hope luck takes them the rest of the way during that postseason, because who knows when they'll be back? Hey, it works for the Cardinals.