It’s been an easy drum to beat the last few weeks, given the nature of last offseason, this offseason, and the current collective bargaining environment, but I’m gonna say it again: teams are flat-out giving shorter and shorter contracts.
It might not be just the middle of the market, either. It may now be hitting the tip-top of the market:
Reports of the White Sox offering ten plus years for Manny Machado or Bryce Harper are ”Without any substance and flat out wrong “ according to high ranking industry sources . Wh Sox will not be giving offer of more than 7 years for either player.
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) January 2, 2019
That could be complete BS, mind you, as perhaps the White Sox didn’t like Jeff Passan’s report that they were willing to offer 10 years.
If what Levine has heard is true, however, then consider the implications, given that the White Sox are one of the only three or so positively-identified suitors for Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. This means that the negotiations for those players have at least been limited to around seven years. Like, a seven-year offer is not getting you laughed out of the room at the moment. THESE GUYS ARE 26-YEAR-OLD GENERATIONAL SUPERSTARS. There should be 15 teams in on them if it’s limited to seven years! My lord. The final year of that deal would be their age 32 season!
Just a few years ago, a lesser free agent who was similarly young got an eight-year contract (I don’t remember who it was, though, so I’ll just move on). I understand there are some warts with any free agent, and that’s true with Harper and Machado, but it would be nuts to me if they wind up signing a seven-year deal, even at $30 million AAV.
In a league where revenues continue to grow and player-payroll spending went down last year for the first time in 15 years, this is not a good look. Even if we’re talking about only two players in this instance, it’s all obviously interrelated, and with a contentious relationship between the interested parties, it’s as hard as ever NOT to see a labor stoppage when the current CBA comes up after 2021.
I’ll bite my tongue a bit because this is all strategy and negotiation, and we’ll see what we see when the deals are signed. But in the meantime, I’ll grow even more nervous about the long-term implications of continued deterioration between ownership and players … but I’ll also think holy crap if he can be had for seven or eight years, please sign Bryce Harper, Cubs!!!