While it’s true that Giancarlo Stanton can’t relate to what unemployed stars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper have encountered this offseason, the Yankees’ designated hitter and outfielder does realize that baseball’s league-wide free agent freeze hasn’t been normal.
“It’s nothing like what I’ve seen since I’ve played, an offseason like this,” Stanton told reporters on Monday, the day Yankees position players officially reported to spring training camp at the George M. Steinbrenner Field complex in Tampa. “I think there are some issues that need to be addressed.”
Stanton is one of several players who have voiced opinions on the rapidly growing labor tension across Major League Baseball. However, the 29-year-old didn’t offer any potential solutions to the issues players are facing under the current collective bargaining agreement, which doesn’t expire until December 2021.
In the meantime, all Stanton can do is exhale, and then exhale some more. Back in 2015, he agreed to the largest contract in baseball history — in terms of total dollars — when the Marlins offered him $325 million over 13 years. According to Spotrac.com, Stanton will make $26 million ($22 million against the luxury tax) with the Yankees this season.
So, as one of the richest players in baseball, does Stanton’s opinion toward the state of free agency hold much weight? Well, that can be left up for debate.
Both Machado and Harper are reportedly seeking long-term deals in the $300 million range, and according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, neither of their agents want to blink first, as this would result in one player gaining all the attention from interested suitors once the other player is off the board.
Although it’s unclear what teams have offered Machado and Harper, the two 26-year-olds are on Hall of Fame trajectories. Machado hit .297 (150 OPS-plus) with 37 home runs and 107 RBI between the Orioles and Dodgers in 2018, but he also damaged his reputation during the playoffs when he told The Athletic that he’ll never be “Johnny Hustle.”
As for Harper, the defending Home Run Derby champion and six-time All-Star hit .249 (133 OPS-plus) with 34 homers and 100 RBI for the Nationals. According to FanGraphs, dating back to 1945, both Machado and Harper rank in the Top-20 of WAR (wins above replacement) accumulated through age 25.
Based on age, performance, and accolades, is either Machado or Harper worth that nine-figure valuation?
It appears baseball owners beg to differ. But Stanton is pulling for those two, as well as dozens of other free agents who remained unsigned with spring training camps already underway.
“If they break [the 13-year, $325 million] contract, cool. I’ll be happy for them,” said Stanton, who led the Yankees in home runs (38) and RBI (100) last season. “But hopefully they can get signed over here. I don’t know what the deal is.”
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