Contract Crowdsourcing Again: Bryce Harper and Manny Machado

There’s a report out today about Manny Machado:

Manny Machado remains unsigned, but the Chicago White Sox have made at least one pitch to the superstar shortstop.

Multiple sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney that the White Sox have a seven-year, $175 million offer on the table for Machado.

I do think there’s something important to understand here. Machado hasn’t yet signed anywhere. The idea that he would sign for $175 million seems almost preposterous, but then again, he hasn’t signed for $175 million. If the reported terms are true, they do seem too small, but that’s how a negotiation is conducted. The player side asks for X, which is ultimately too high. The team side proposes Y, which is ultimately too low. If an agreement is reached, it’s for Z. We’re going to learn the most information when Machado actually has a new employer. Then, and only then, will we have a fuller understanding of what his market looked like. Said understanding still won’t be complete.

So Machado is still out there, available. Bryce Harper is also still out there, also available. Machado’s age is 26 and six months. Harper’s age is 26 and three months. There was thought that, through free agency, they might be able to reach some record contracts. Those contracts might still be out there in front of them. Increasingly, however, it feels like they might not be. Which is why this little post is going up.

Over the weekend, Kiley McDaniel suggested to me that we re-run this project. Contract crowdsourcing ought to be familiar — we asked you about Harper, and we asked you about Machado, last October 23. Now, obviously, none of us are involved in the actual talks. The only information we get is from what’s publicly reported, and what’s publicly reported isn’t always accurate. Especially in these cases, when you have two premium players represented by two powerful agents. But, since October, we’ve seen how the offseason in general has progressed. We’ve heard about which teams might and might not be in the mix for either player. What Kiley and I want to know is whether the crowdsourced contract estimates have changed. And, if they’ve changed, in which direction, and by how much? Do you, collectively, see Machado settling for less? Do you see Harper settling for less? Do you see Scott Boras allowing Harper to settle for less? Or do you think the money is all still there, and all parties are just taking their time?

Based on what’s public, the Machado market might be down to the White Sox and Phillies. The Harper market might be down to the Nationals and Phillies. The Nationals have also already spent a lot, so you’d think that would put the Phillies in a pretty commanding position, here. But what’s unclear is how late might be too late, when it comes to other suitors getting involved. And maybe other suitors are already involved, and they’ve just stayed under the radar. All we really know is that a few teams are serious. More teams might be out there, and you’d think other contenders wouldn’t allow Machado to get to the White Sox for $175 million. You’d think, but, this is where we are. This is why this post has been written and published.

Let us know what you think. We all understand we don’t have enough information. But if we can’t yet see Machado or Harper actually signing, the next-best thing is imagining it. Thank you all for your participation.

Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

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4 years ago

To me, 7 or 8 year contracts make no sense for MM or BH. They should hold out for 10 or go shorter with a higher AAV, something like 5@$35 or so.

4 years ago
Reply to  ScottyB

I think you are probably right, but I think a 10 year deal is much different for Harper or Machado than it is for someone like Votto or Pujols who were older. For players as good as they are, there is a pretty good chance that they will still be useful starting players when they are in their mid-30s. So the 10-year structure is not simply to defer costs so that you don’t have too high of an AAV. They should be seeking to be paid for value even for those years. If you want to defer money but keep it in the confines of the contractual terms, you’d need to go towards 12-13 years for them.

On the other hand, I think it would be pretty easy to sell a team basically on the Jason Heyward structure but just for a lot more money. I would jump at the chance to sign Machado for 8 years/$240 million with opt outs after years 3 and 4 years (I put 8/$264 as my guess, but that is assuming no opt outs, and I think $3 million per year is a pretty fair price for getting those opt outs). If I’m Machado, I don’t want 10 years unless it is for a good deal more money than what I’m getting offered for 8 years.

Max Power
4 years ago
Reply to  ScottyB

I guessed 190M/5 (38M AAV) for Harper. Likely with an opt-out after Year 2 and one after Year 3

4 years ago
Reply to  Max Power

I went 4/164, that seems to be what the Dodgers are trying to do with Harper