Former baseball player Bobby Bonilla received $1,193,248.20 from the New York Mets on July 1, 2018. The significance of this “modest” pay day is that Bonilla last played for the Mets in 2001. He will continue to be paid until 2035 because Bonilla was cut by the Mets in 2000 and they decided to defer his contract payments to the future, according to Darren Rovell at ESPN.com
It is odd that a player like Bonilla is being paid today, but generational talents like right fielder Bryce Harper and third baseman Manny Machado have yet to sign a contract.
Harper and Machado are the best two available baseball players that can sign with any Major League Baseball team as a free agent this winter.
Both are 26 years old and most likely have the best playing years of their career ahead of them. Baseball experts expected them to sign huge, $300 million-plus contracts this winter, but the market for players of their caliber is surprisingly low.
Machado and Harper are currently in negotiations with several teams, but neither player has signed a contract because neither player has been offered as much money as they want.
It is a shame because Spring Training, baseball’s version of preseason, is less than a month away and two of the game’s biggest stars do not have a home field to play on yet.
Baseball owners are afraid to give huge dollar amounts to players over a long period of time because they are afraid of injury or a decline in a player’s production. That is evident in Miguel Cabrera, the first baseman for the Detroit Tigers.
In 2012, Cabrera was one of baseball’s best players, leading the American League in home runs, RBIs and batting average, a feat that was last accomplished in 1967 and one that has not been recreated since. Four years later, Cabrera signed an eight-year, $248 million deal that lasts until he is 43. In the three seasons since he signed that contract, he has only played one full season without injury and all his power numbers have decreased. Essentially, Detroit is paying Cabrera to wear a uniform and take batting practice.
It makes sense that owners have learned their lesson about granting 33-year-old players $200 million contracts. Harper and Machado, however, are only 26 and a 10-year deal will finish up when they are 36. Harper and Machado will still be very valuable players in ten years and teams should be chomping at the bit to get players like them on their roster, regardless of the cost.
Harper has won the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards and hits roughly 26 home runs a year, including 42 home runs in 2015. He is considered the second-best player in the MLB behind Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout.
Machado is one of the most elite defenders in the game and has been to four All-Star games because of his two-way ability both offensively and defensively.
Both players, however, are jobless in a baseball economy that has never been better. USA Today reported that baseball has set a new record for revenue for 15 years straight. In 2017, baseball revenue reached $10 billion for the first time ever.
If baseball owners are making more money than ever, it seems unjust to pay their players less money. Players like Harper and Machado will bring in revenue by making their prospective teams better and viable for the playoffs. Owners will be wisely investing their literal billions of dollars into Harper and Machado.
Just like the best doctor wants to be paid appropriately for his services, Harper and Machado feel they are the best baseball players and should be paid appropriately based on baseball’s booming economy.
Fans should not scoff at players’ desires to make $35 million a year. Fans should support those players as they battle the even richer owners for the money they deserve.
Fans should be angry if the penny-pinching billionaire baseball owners cause star players like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper to miss the beginning of the baseball season.