Among all the thank yous and big statements made at Jayson Werth's introductory press conference this afternoon, one item stuck out, both for its news value and the philosophical change it represents for the Nationals: Werth has a full no-trade clause in his seven-year, $126 million deal, one of the final concessions general manager Mike Rizzo made in his negotiations with agent Scott Boras and the first one given to a Nationals player.
Werth mentioned he had a no-trade clause during his press conference, and after the press conference, Boras confirmed to a handful of reporters that Werth has full no-trade protection.
The Nationals had never given a player a no-trade clause before, in part, because team president Stan Kasten was vehemently opposed to them. Like most general managers, Rizzo doesn't take a much kinder view of them, but to get a player like Werth to sign with the Nationals, he knew he had to give in.
"I'd rather not have a no-trade clause, because it's another impediment to roster construction; I would term it that way," Rizzo said. "A no-trade clause gives the players more control. That's why we're reluctant to do it. It's something that, for an elite free agent like this, I thought I would relent on it, because we had to do it to get the player."
Werth repeatedly said throughout his press conference that the security of a long-term deal was a big consideration for him, and the no-trade clause gives him additional assurance that he'll be in the same city for the next seven years. He has been with four organizations in the last 13 years, never lasting longer than four years with any of them.
The 31-year-old outfielder, who referred to the contract as a reward for his "life's work," made it clear he wanted to do things a certain way once he had a chance to hit the open market.
"You finally get to free agency, you have a chance to do something special for yourself and for your family. There's a lot of things that go into it," Werth said. "The years were important to me. The chance to come to a city, guaranteed to be here for a long time, the no-trade was a big deal for me. I have a chance to set my family up for years to come here."
And while Rizzo said he doesn't plan to make a habit of giving out no-trade clauses, he said he'd make exceptions for a high-caliber player. Time will tell if agents exploit the precedent Werth set to get such clauses from the Nationals, but for now, they've crossed a significant threshold.