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Coming into the offseason, we were all aware of a few high-octane stars that were bound for a big payday and a brand new look. What we got through were massive contracts and extensions that far surpassed the old market threshold of the mid-2010s’ and made select star pitchers $200 million richer. Since the start of the 2019 spring training, we’ve seen several nine-figure deals, totaling $2.11 billion between 10 players. Was it smart of these teams to drive the market up to lock in their star players? Let’s take a look.
Starting with the richest of the bunch, Mike Trout recently signed a contract extension for 12 years and worth $430 million, crowning him the richest athlete in North America. Now, whether or not any one player is worth $430 million is certainly a good question. There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that if somebody is getting paid that much, it should be Trout.
Trout’s been called a modern-day Mickey Mantle and he backs that up with 243 career home runs and a lifetime OPS of .992, which is the 9th highest in baseball history.
So far this season, he isn’t surprising anybody. Through his first eight games, his slash line sits at .385/.353/.923 and he has four home runs. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trout adds some more hardware to his trophy case this season.
The next richest ball player is the golden goose of this past offseason, Bryce Harper. Harper came to terms with the Phillies on a deal that will give him $330 million over the next 13 years.
Harper has more than proved he was deserving of the number one overall pick in the 2010 draft by having 184 homers and winning an MVP in his first seven seasons.
So far, Harper has been mashing for his new team. His slash line through seven games reads a beautiful .417/.563/.917 with three home runs of his own. He’s already doing Bryce things, like pairing a perfect bat flip with a massive game-changing home run. He fits into that offense seamlessly, and while he’s still brand new in Philly, it looks as though Harper is not just content with making the big bucks. His first real playoff run might be right around the corner.
The Padres went out and surprised everyone this offseason by acquiring all-star 3rd baseman Manny Machado. After all, he didn’t come cheap. His 10-year, $300 million deal was the largest contract we’ve ever seen, that is until Harper stole the show. Regardless, the Padres have officially bought into their future.
Machado brings top-notch pop averaging more than 35 homers a year and has one of the best gloves around (so long as he stays at 3rd). So far this season, he’s hit a few homers and has filled into the middle of their order nicely. The Padres have him flanked by young talent like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Fransisco Mejia, who both look ready to break out.
Now all Padre fans can do is watch and hope for a return on their big investment.
This extension felt like a no-brainer for the Rockies. If you’ve got a two-way standout who puts up MVP caliber numbers each year, and he’s only 27, then you should obviously lock him up with an eight-year, $260 million contract extension.
He’s off to the slowest start among the group, toting a .229/.263/.286 line. But nobody is worried after only nine games. Arguably the finest infield glove in all of baseball, Arenado is still out there flashing leather with plays that litter MLB’s Instagram feed, and it’s safe to assume he’ll start hitting the ball sooner, rather than later.
Other significant paydays were given to players like Jacob deGrom, Ronald Acuna, Paul Goldschmidt, Chris Sale, and Xander Bogarts. All of which were set to be next offseasons’ top free agents. Perhaps teams are starting to how high the market is getting for top talent, prompting them to pay early before having to cough up $300 million for the same caliber player in free agency. Either way, it doesn’t look like the price of contending will go down anytime soon.