There are multiple reasons for this, I think. One, of course, is the long term commitments these guys want, as well as yearly amount they’ll get paid during that commitment. I realize Albert Pujols was older when he signed his contract with the Angels, (he signed at 32, Machado and Harper are both 26) so it isn’t an entirely accurate comparison, but still, the results since he signed that contract are a warning sign. Players tend to fall off in production in their 30’s, around 32 or so. I don’t think either Machado or Harper want 6 year deals but are aiming rather for more like 10 year deals. Plus Harper has hit below .250 two of the past three years and Machado’s production fell off after getting traded to the Dodgers. Neither entered FA on a high point. Even so, they expect teams to spend the family farm on them.
The other main reason is general managers are smarter these days.
Look at the Yankees. Usually not my favorite team, I have to admire how they spread out their money to add four useful assets instead of acquiring one shiny toy. Sure, some fans called the Yanks signing of Adam Ottavino, Troy Tulowitzki, Zach Britton and DJ LeMahieu boring, but I think it creates a deeper and more balanced team than simply blowing all of their money on guy. Being the Yanks, there’s still a chance they may sign one of the two studs, but I think they’re fine as is.
The same can be said for the Dodgers. They shed weight in a big trade with the Reds, then instead of Harper, signed A.J. Pollock, who admittedly is older at 31 but also has a much more affordable deal than what fellow outfielder Bryce Harper is asking for. Plus they have a talented (and cheap) young outfielder named Alex Verdugo who had been blocked my the Dodgers crowded outfield but will now be able to get playing time and show the Dodgers what he can do.
The Cardinals should keep an eye on how those teams do. We currently acquired the 31 year old Paul Goldschmidt. I like him, but I honestly think we should not extend him, no matter what we paid. Based on past deals for guys like Pujols and Jayson Werth, it just doesn’t seem wise. Save that money and use it on multiple assets instead of re-signing one shiny toy.
As always, thanks for reading.