On the night before Opening Day in Major League Baseball, free agency may not be dead but the mania is over and the game is better off for it. Superstars like Mike Trout are staying put, which means their teams remain competitive.
In the past few weeks, many players have jumped on the extension bandwagon, signing long-term yet below-market contracts. The big free-agent payday, which seemed like a foregone conclusion a few years, ago is now a crap shoot.
Trout, the biggest of the big fish, acknowledged that Bryce Harper and Manny Machado’s long, agonizing waits on free agency deals influenced his decision to sign 12-year extension worth more than $430 million with the Angels.
Bottom line is that baseball’s best player (perhaps ever) felt uncertain enough about free agency to take a big bird in the hand instead of looking for a bigger one in the bush. It’s a scary world for free agents. Ask Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel.
The latest superstar to sign an extension was Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, who signed a five-year deal worth $137.5 million with the New York Mets. This was great news for Mets fans who are hoping their team will be a contender.
Other superstars that have signed extensions in 2019 include Nolan Arenado with the Rockies (7 years, $260 million), Chris Sale with the Red Sox (5 years, $145 million) and Paul Goldschmidt with the Cardinals (5 years, $145 million).
Don’t feel sorry for these guys. They are all well paid, but they are now more motivated to stay with the teams that developed them. This keeps major league baseball competitive and it will keep more fans coming to the parks.