One of the best days of the year, MLB Opening Day, is finally less than 10 days away!
Even still, some big name free agents are still unsigned: Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel, Evan Gattis, and Danny Valencia.
With the slow market for free agents, four of the biggest names in the sport signed large contracts or contract extensions.
Manny Machado signed a 10-year/ $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres.
Bryce Harper signed a 13-year/ $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Nolan Arenado signed an eight-year/ $260 million extension with the Colorado Rockies.
And today, baseball’s best player, Mike Trout signed a 12-year/ $430 million extension with the Los Angeles Angels.
A breakdown of Mike Trout's new $430M deal:
– About $60,000 per AB
– $25,000 per Inning
– $3,000,000 per Month
– $4,000 per Hour
– $70 per Minute
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) March 19, 2019
Between the four of them, that is a total of $1.32 billion (yes, billion. With a ‘B’) in contracts.
Not only are Machado, Harper, Arenado, and Trout getting paid handsomely, but they are under team control for quite some time. Machado can first opt-out after the 2023 season. Arenado can opt-out after the 2021 season and has a full no-trade clause.
For Harper and Trout, both have no opt-outs and full no-trade clauses.
The rest of the MLB is in awe of these contracts and numbers. Young stars like Mookie Betts and Francisco Lindor are next in line to get paid just as well.
Both will get paid, and may even get paid by the team they currently play for.
And that is where it gets problematic for Lindor. Lindor was runner-up for Rookie of the Year in 2015, is a three-time All-Star, a two-time Silver Slugger winner, and a Gold Glove winner.
He is the face of the Cleveland Indians franchise. He is one of, if not the best shortstops in the majors. He plays the game constantly with a big smile and with as much energy and passion as anyone else.
Lifetime, Lindor bats .288/.350/.487. In 2018, he led the MLB in runs scored with 129. Additionally, the Puerto Rican set career highs in home runs (38), RBI (92), stolen bases (25), walks (70), plate appearances, and at bats.
Cleveland would not have won the AL Central without him. The Indians need him in order to be successful for seasons down the road.
That is why Tribe fans should be worried now more than ever.
Fans knew before Trout signed his record deal that the Indians front office struggles with spending big money on big name free agents.
The club’s record for a free agent deal was two years ago when Cleveland signed Edwin Encarnacion to a three-year/ $60 million contract. That’s $20 million per year. Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn were between $10-15 million per year during their time in Cleveland.
Encarnacion did not even play out all three of those seasons as he was traded this offseason in an attempt to cut salary and get younger talent.
While trying to acquire young talent for the future is fine with the uncertainty of many of the Indians top players in a few seasons, right now is prime time to compete for a championship.
Two of the best position players in the game are in Cleveland. The best rotation in all of the game is in Cleveland.
That should be more than enough motivation for the team to open its wallet and spend adequate money on players who can immediately help the ball club and take them to the next level in October.
(While related, that is a different conversation for a different day.)
Because of Cleveland’s past history in getting- or not getting- players to sign and not paying its own players, causing them to leave in free agency or a trade (CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez to name a few) has haunted them.
And that has to be in the back of the team’s mind.
History tends to repeat itself, and if it is going to repeat again, don’t expect Francisco Lindor to be in Cleveland after the next season or two.
Lindor deserves every penny he is going to get from whatever team pays him millions of dollars. He has earned every right to go out and sign a contract for hundreds of millions.
But will it be with the Indians?
Unless the ownership comes to its senses and realizes what a special talent Lindor is and how important he is to the team’s success, Lindor’s tenure in Cleveland may be beginning to end.