Before we start, I must say, this stings a bit as my favorite team besides the New York Yankees is the Washington Nationals (my dad grew up in the Washington D.C. area). Star outfielder Bryce Harper's new contract with the Philadelphia Phillies is not only a massive contract (13 years and $330 million), but a huge change to the landscape of baseball players.
Over this offseason, MLB stars Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado, and Bryce Harper received massive contracts. On February 20th, Machado signed with the San Diego Padres for 10 years and $300 million. Arenado resigned with the Colorado Rockies for 8 years and $260 million on February 26th. Then of course, Harper topped them all on February 28th with his contract which is the largest in baseball history.
However, there is lots of ego among these players who, despite the great talent they have, are question marks for their big contracts due to the lack of deep playoff runs or consistency. Machado has been in the postseason 4 times in his career. Three of those appearances were when he was a member of the Baltimore Orioles. They only won one playoff series. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers midway through the 2018 season and helped them get to the World Series where they lost 4 games to 1. What was more widely known was the fact that Machado publicly said that hustling "isn't my cup of tea." When he was running the bases, he was clearly trying to intentionally trip the fielders of the Milwaukee Brewers in the Championship series. Game 4 in particular got people irritated as he intentionally tried to trip Jesus Aguilar. He was fined $10,000 by the league and M.V.P. Christein Yelich supported his teammate by calling Machado's actions "A dirty play by a dirty player. It absolutely is." So despite making his first world series, Machado's reputation has already distinguished him from being called a winner.
Arenado didn't make the playoffs until 2017 when the Arizona Diamondbacks eliminated them in the Wild Card round. He won his first playoff game next year against the Chicago Cubes, but were swept 3 games to none in the divisional round by the Milwaukee Brewers. Harper has not had a losing season throughout his Nationals career. He has made the playoffs 4 out of his 7 years winning the division in every year, but the Nationals have never won a playoff series, losing in excruciating fashion in every game. So there you have it: winning for these players is common, but they still have a way to go if they want to have purely consistent winning ways.
They want money to be mentioned when people talk about their legacies. They may not admit that, but they want to go out with both money and fame. The dead end to this is that not all of these players are generational talents. Harper is the only one out of the 3 who is considered a generational talent and he hasn't had any playoff success. By contrast, in the 2018 NFL off season, lots of players got big contract extensions in August. Yet those players have already proved to be generational talents already and played massive roles on their teams. In what has become a sports world in which big contracts have been common, these baseball players also wanting to get paid big time.
Contract standards are also made by these players. Machado was offered $220 million by the New York Yankees, while the Chicago White Sox offered him $175 million and 8 years. The Phillies were also a dark horse candidate for Machado. The Rockies originally avoided arbitration with Arenado by giving him $26 million. Harper was given a 10 year, $300 million contract by the Nationals in hopes of resigning him in which he denied. Other teams placed solid offers for Harper, but it was the Phillies that won Harper.
This is a new period in baseball, and it is a new period regarding the contracts that are handed out to these players. The sports world of contracts has already been changing dramatically and these baseball players have exceeded most of the contracts that athletes in other sports already have. It'll be interesting to see if these high paid players will deliver great individual play and championships to their teams.