Overpaid to Play

With rumors swirling that Manny Machado could get a contract worth more than $300 million, and Bryce Harper reportedly already turning down a 10-year, $300-million contract from the Nationals, this free agent offseason is turning into exactly the circus I expected.

Lack of opt-outs in the contract aside, who turns down $300 million? Better question: who needs $300 million? No one. Or rather, no individual human being needs that much money, which could probably feed the entire continent of Africa for at least a year. A mere $50 feeds a child in Africa for a year and Bryce Harper won’t take $300 million.

Per Ken Rosenthal, Harper’s goal is to get a contract that beats Giancarlo Stanton’s $325 million. When Giancarlo Stanton was the big fish in the free agent pond last winter, I wrote that I didn’t want him. $325 million for a guy who had one standout season amongst seasons of injury and mild success? Pass. Instead, the Red Sox signed JD Martinez for about a third of the price. He outperformed Stanton in nearly every category, and the Red Sox clobbered the Yankees in the postseason on the way to their fourth championship.

Teams are going to spend a lot of money to bulk up, we know that. Everyone wants to win the World Series, we know that, too. But how far does it go?

Maybe I’m naive, nostalgic, idealistic, or all the above, but I love a player who plays the game for the love it, and I love a team that collects those kinds of players, like the Red Sox often (not always, but often) do. When I was a little girl, I dreamed of pitching for the Red Sox. Not because I wanted millions, but because I love my team more than anything, and I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to play at Fenway Park, I wanted to wear a Red Sox uniform, I wanted to play baseball. And there are players who feel the same way, like David Ortiz, who could’ve gone to any number of teams at any point in his storied career, and they wouldn’t have lowballed him at $16 million a year, the most he ever made. 43 players in the NFL make more money than Tom Brady, arguably the greatest quarterback in the history of the game. But he’s a Patriot for life with a supermodel wife, so he’s fine to sit back and watch Jimmy Garoppolo make $27 million.

And yes, I know that unlike Machado or Harper, David Ortiz was a Designated Hitter, and they typically get paid less. But rants aren’t rational, and this is definitely verging on rant territory, albeit well-educated, informed rant territory. And anyone who tries to tell me that David Ortiz was not the most highly-valued, integral, key member of the Boston Red Sox is absolutely insane.

Manny Machado is a bum who likes to hurt other plays and proudly tells reporters that he doesn’t hustle in the postseason and has no plans to start hustling. Bryce Harper is a diva who hits a homer when he pleases and otherwise has a lovely batting average in the low .200s, a player some high-ranking executive in the National League called ‘a selfish, losing player not worth the money’ earlier this season. To any team desperate enough to sign these guys, have at it. But you’re wasting your money and tainting the sport’s purity by giving into overinflated egos and ludicrous demands.

Rant over. Back to appreciating my somewhat-normally paid, World Series champion Boston Red Sox.


Photo: Getty Images

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