After a winter full of private meetings, rumors, and everything in between, the two most coveted free agents in recent MLB history have reached massive contracts that have sent shock waves throughout the baseball world. Manny Machado signed first, reaching a 10-year, $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres. Bryce Harper followed, only a few days later, with an even greater deal, agreeing to a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Each superstar had their fair share of scrutiny that extended the time in which it took for them to reach historical signings. Harper, who is coming off his worse year to date, batted .249 this past season, leading to questions regarding his actual worth when it came to free agency. However, his tremendous body of work through his age-25 campaign kept his value astronomically high and deserving of his new contract with Philadelphia.
Machado also endured obstacles of his own. The star infielder was heavily scrutinized this past postseason with the Los Angeles Dodgers, in which he stated: “I’m not the type of player that’s going to be Johnny Hustle.” This sort of attitude raised quite a few eyebrows, as general managers and coaches were unsure if an individual with this sort of mindset was worthy of being the face of an MLB franchise. Nevertheless, Machado’s unbelievable combination of skills made him an undeniable talent, and the Padres could not pass up on the opportunity to land the superstar free agent.
The Phillies’ signing of Harper only adds to an extremely successful offseason for the franchise as a whole. In addition to signing the superstar outfielder, Philly inked outfielder Andrew McCutchen to a 3-year/$50 million contract and reliever David Robertson to a 2-year/$23 million deal. The team also traded for shortstop Jean Segura and all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto, and may not be done yet. With money left to spend, star closer Craig Kimbrel and 2015 AL Cy Young Award Winner Dallas Keuchel remain unsigned and have had several links to the Phillies over the past few weeks. These moves, combined with other activity amongst rival teams, make the National League East one of the most loaded and competitive divisions in baseball this season.
For the Padres, adding Machado puts them in an excellent position on the offensive side, but leaves them lacking in terms of pitching and bullpen depth. After adding all-star first baseman Eric Hosmer last offseason, San Diego has put together a very intriguing lineup, also adding Ian Kinsler to man the second base spot. With Wil Myers coming back healthy this year and young studs like Luis Urias and Francisco Mejia finally cracking the big stage, the Padres’ offense should be fun to watch throughout the season. However, unlike the Phillies, immediate contention isn’t likely, as top arms such as Mackenzie Gore are not near being ready for the big leagues, leaving the team with a major hole when it comes to their pitching.
Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have reached new heights in major league baseball, and have set precedents that will help future superstars maximize their economic value in free agency.