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Jarrod Washburn: The NINE Million Dollar Man?

[December 17th] -- When the 2005 free-agent signing spree began, most of us penny-pundits figured the top pitchers in the draft, guys like A.J. Burnett, would get about $10 million per year. Guys at the bottom, the warm body types like Brett Tomko, would come in just above minimum wage. The middle-of-the-roaders, guys like Jarrod Washburn, were penciled in around $7 million or so.

The Nationals could afford those kind of dollars, and most of us figures Jim Bowden would throw his net into the water and trawl for arms. He'd come up with somebody. Anybody. The way things have played out, the Nats might not be able to afford Brett Tomko or Jeff Weaver.

The Seattle Mariners, coming of three consecutive losing seasons, has offered the Angels' Jarrod Washburn four years/ $36-38 million. In comparison, the Nationals' Jim Bowden offered Washburn about $6-7 million per year. Yah. That's going to work.

Washburn, 31, is an eight year veteran, all with the Angels. His "average" season with California, er, Anaheim, er, Los Angeles of Anaheim, oh whatever, is 13-10, 3.93. Brett Tomko, also an eight year veteran, also 31, has a career average of 11-10, 4.26. Washburn's going to make $9 million per year, or $692,000 per win in his average year, and Tomko will earn about $800,000, or around $72,000 per win in his average season.

What gives?

Tomko's career ERA is a third of a run higher, but he's won 81 career games, six more than Washburn.

Sure, Washburn's career winning percent is better [.568 vs .526] but is that two extra wins per year and "tinch" better ERA worth $8 million more dollars per season? Heck no.

Here's a prediction: If the Nationals sign Brett Tomko [and I think they will], Washburn will win only 2-3 more games than Tomko.

General managers aren't signing talent or statistics these days. They're signing names. Washburn is a "name" and therefore gets all of the petty cash, tin box and all. Tomko isn't a name, and is left to pick up the scraps that are left by the big boys.

At least the Nationals' ownership problem has kept the team from falling into this trap.

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