It seems predictions that former Oriole Manny Machado and current National Bryce Harper could get each contracts totaling $300 million or even $400 million have ruffled a few feathers among baseball fans.
I’m paraphrasing a bit here, but readers have stated such thoughts on the blog the last few days about this duo, expressing the sentiment that no player is worth that kind of money. That ballplayers should have to work for a living like the rest of us. That ballplayers are greedy.
I think most fans, almost all really, must realize the futility and nonsense in comparing a 9-to-5, everyman-type worker to a professional athlete. They are not better than the rest of us, just better paid. They work in an industry that will support such salaries, at least among the richest teams. The teams offer these contracts of their own free will. No one forces them to do it. They won’t be going broke over it.
In fact, the sport has rules in place with the luxury tax that makes it more costly for teams that exceed a certain payroll threshold. That amount is $206 million for the 2019 season. For more on the competitive-balance tax, as it is officially known, click here.
Harper and Machado will very likely break the bank, and maybe both exceed Giancarlo Stanton’s record $325 million contract. They are both very young free agents at 26, meaning clubs signing them now to long-term deals have a better chance of seeing both perform well long into those deals. Both players, particularly Machado, can have an impact on the game on offense and defense. Machado can bring a big bat to the shortstop position. Plus, some deep-pocket teams have been gearing up for this winter for years. These clubs seem motivated to spend, and we could see intense bidding wars for these players.
It’s a perfect storm of sorts at work: young free agents who are supremely talented and teams with plenty to spend ready to chase them. That, to me, means a great chance for the $325 million Stanton pact to no longer be No. 1 later this offseason.
In my humble opinon, there is no reason to begrudge these players in advance of their ships coming in. Both have already done well financially, and that will continue. They will be offered what clubs can afford.
Comparing pro sports salaries to the “real world” is just an exercise in futility. If you think players make too much money and don’t want to support them, don’t. But to get frustrated about it or upset over some inequity is just foolish. Wasted energy.
The players will get their dollars. The contracts figure to be massive. The struggle in the real world is real. That is also true. But these two worlds don’t mix when it comes to compensation, and we’ve known and accepted this for a long time.