LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Count Sandy Alderson among those in shock.
Shortly after the Nationals announced their signing of free-agent outfielder Jayson Werth to a seven-year contract for a reported $126 million on Sunday, the Mets general manager characterized Werth's potentially market-changing deal as "a long time and a lot of money."
"It makes some of our contracts look pretty good," Alderson quipped. "I thought they were trying to reduce the deficit in Washington."
With those one-liners, Alderson became one of the deal's early outspoken critics -- despite the fact that it should affect his team far less than others. Because the Mets have little money to spend on free agents this offseason, they can't fret too much over how Werth's deal shapes the market for the game's other top-flight free agents -- particularly for the younger, more athletic Carl Crawford. The Mets, as they have planned all along, will instead poke around the pool of lesser free agents and attempt to swing some sensible trades.
"I don't think you should expect us to come back with the high-profile trophy," Alderson said some two hours after checking into the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort, site of this year's Winter Meetings, on Sunday evening. "I think I've been pretty consistent about that."
Though Werth's deal may cause nothing more than ripples in those plans, Alderson did relay concern about an "overheated market" amongst even the game's lesser free agents -- in large part a product of the overzealousness that these meetings often breed. But he will soon know for sure. Alderson plans to meet with several agents Sunday evening, then with executives from multiple teams on Monday, the first official day of the meetings.
Those conversations, however, should only confirm what Alderson already knows: Werth's deal can only hurt him and the game's other budget-minded executives.
"In some ways, this is the worst possible time to be looking at free agents," Alderson said. "The beginning of the Winter Meetings is always a little frenetic. While we want to be actively involved, we want to also be a little cautious."