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Manny Machado’s Record Contract Doesn’t Solve MLB’s Free-Agent Problem

Sports News With MLB Manny Machado, the third baseman and slugger who was unsigned even as training camp opened, agreed to a 10-year contract worth a record (for a...

Sports News With MLB

Manny Machado, the third baseman and slugger who was unsigned even as training camp opened, agreed to a 10-year contract worth a record (for a free agent) $300 million with the San Diego Padres on Tuesday.

At 26, he’s in his prime (though baseball has come to hate any player who is older than 32). He’ll give the Padres some presence now as their farm system, laden with prospects, starts spinning off more assets to the parent club, much in the manner in which the Atlanta Braves rebuilt.

One signing, however, does not fix baseball. One star getting a new deal doesn’t mean the system is working.

Outfielder Bryce Harper, formerly of the Washington Nationals, should be in line for a similar deal. He’s unsigned. Pitcher Dallas Keuchel? Unsigned. The pace of signings has been slow, slow enough that players are talking about a strike a few years hence.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said last week that markets work two ways – players can make demands and teams can choose whether or not to meet them. And $30 million a year (guaranteed) is a lot of money.
But this is also a sport where too many teams want to jettison their better players, lose for a few years and rebuild with cheaper, younger talent. This worked for the Braves and the Houston Astros. The Miami Marlins are trying it as well and becoming irrelevant in their market as they do so, having dumped an outfield of All-Stars last year.

The answer? Who knows? Teams have money and don’t want to spend it. How do you compel them to do so? Players seem to think they have a right to $30 million a year and they do not. Yet there should be some market efficiency.

They can fight it out. They usually do.

One favor, please. Just start the playoff games and World Series earlier, so that the next generation of fans – kids – get to see them. And us old guys (zzz) as well.

 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman

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