ANALYSIS: MLB’s two biggest free agents have signed massive deals


Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license.

Brendan Murphy, Assistant Sports Editor

When Major League Baseball (MLB) free agency began back in November, executives around baseball expected the two biggest names on the market, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, to look for a king’s ransom when signing a contract. The market was slow to develop for the 26-year-old superstars, but both were able to get their money.

Machado was the first to put ink to paper on Feb 19 when he signed a massive 10-year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres with an opt-out after five years. Machado spent the first six and a half seasons of his career with the Baltimore Orioles before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trade deadline.

Machado’s time with the Dodgers was marred with controversy about his lack of effort when running out balls.

It came to a head when he made this comment to reporters after a playoff game, “Obviously I’m not going to change, I’m not the type of player that’s going to be ‘Johnny Hustle,’ and run down the line and slide to first base and… you know, whatever can happen,” said Machado. ”That’s just not my personality, that’s not my cup of tea, that’s not who I am.”

Executives felt those comments would send his price tag down in free agency, but in the end he got exactly what was expected. In addition, Machado set the record for the largest Average Annual Value (AAV) of any position player’s contract in baseball history.

Bryce Harper was arguably the biggest superstar to ever hit the open market in baseball history. The Harper sweepstakes lasted deep into the offseason and even into spring training, with the Dodgers, San Fransisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, and his former team, the Washington Nationals, being the most engaged.

The Nationals offered Harper a 10-year, $300 million deal right after the season, which Harper quickly turned down. The Dodgers made an offer that would have sent social media into a frenzy when the team proposed a four-year, $180 million deal, which translates to a $45 million AAV. The Giants stood at 12 years for $310 million.

That leaves us with the team that claimed to have “stupid money” to spend in the offseason and the winner of the Harper sweepstakes, the Phillies. The Phillies went into the offseason trying to ensure that they signed either Harper or Machado, and at one time, there was even talk that they could sign both. Harper eventually agreed to the largest contract in American professional sports history, when he signed a 13-year, $330 million deal.

Harper’s contract has one notable exclusion, an opt-out clause. Harper didn’t want one. He wanted to find a place which was a fit for his family and a place he could spend the rest of his career. Harper will be 39 years-old at the end of his deal.

This free agency saga had gone on for months, but in the end both superstars got their money. Will they be worth the investment? Only time will tell.

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