Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Is baseball headed for a strike?

The 2019 MLB season is set to began in a couple of weeks, and the hectic off season has come to an end. This past off season turned into a huge waiting game as it took over 100 days for the two biggest names in the class, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, to sign contracts.

However, the wait was worth it for the two of the game’s best. Machado took home a 10-year contract with $300 million dollars guaranteed with the San Diego Padres. Harper ended up with a 13-year deal worth $330 million dollars with the Philadelphia Phillies.
So what’s the hold up? Why are quality players sitting around waiting until the last possible moment to sign with a team? Well for starters, not a ton of teams were interested in Machado, and the same with Harper.
Machado came into free agency at age 26. Already a four-time all-star and two-time Gold Glove winner. This is a generational talent in his prime, and only four teams ever showed interest before he signed with the Padres.
The Padres, widely considered a small market team, opened up their wallets and finally gave Machado the deal he was looking for. Think about that for a second: Machado wouldn’t sign unless he got a record breaking deal. This is all because his fellow big name free agent Harper turned down the similar $300 million dollar deal before free agency even started.
Harper was in a similar situation, but he took the long term deal over some shorter offers for more money.
So who is to blame for some of the game’s biggest names keeping both teams and their fans on pins and needles for over 100 days? Is it the owners that don’t want to open up their wallets or is it the players being greedy?
Neither party is totally at fault in this situation. As baseball contracts are getting larger and larger, general managers and owners are forced to spend their money wisely, spend $300 million on one player and there isn’t a ton of money left in the budget to sign a supporting cast around them.
Now, while the big name players like Harper and Machado finally found contracts, there are a number of former big name players in their lower to mid 30’s that are still jobless going into the start of the season.
However, the players are the ones unhappy about it. Many players have taken to social media and interviews in an effort to voice their displeasure with how many good players are left jobless at the end of free agency, and the word “strike” has been thrown around several times.
What do the players really want the owners to do, though? Free agency is all about filling needs. If teams don’t need 30-year-old middle of the pack pitchers, why would they sign them? It’s smarter to take that money and put it towards extending a younger guy that has been progressing.
The bottom line is every team is in a different position. Some teams are in rebuild mode where they are looking for younger guys to use as the basis for their team. Others are on the bubble trying to get that one guy that will put them over the edge to get a playoff spot. Some teams have championship caliber rosters already that don’t really need additions.
No matter what the players say or want, free agency will always be dictated on needs, and this year was no different. The players can move towards a strike if they want, but what are they looking for? Machado just got guaranteed that for the next ten years, he will be making 30 million dollars a year, and Harper will have a deal very similar by the time April comes around. $30 million! How can anyone say there isn’t enough money going around? It’s just a silly thing to say.
This is not something that will stop in baseball. In two years, the best player in baseball, Mike Trout will be a free agent. Trout, depending on what numbers you look at, is the best player to come into the league since Babe Ruth. He already has a salary of $34 million a year, and will hit the free agent market at age 29. You could very well see him get a contract that is worth half a billion dollars. Half a billion.
Any player that says they aren’t making enough quite frankly is not a good enough player to make the big money. Players want big money? Play like you deserve big money.

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Is baseball headed for a strike?