As it turns out, owners haven't slammed shut all of the financial spigots that run to the players. It just depends on which players.
Bryce Harper, 26, set a record Thursday for the largest contract ever awarded to a free agent in professional sports, landing with the Philadelphia Phillies for a reported $330 million over 13 years. That's a heck of a lot of cheesesteaks.
Manny Machado had set a record for the largest contract ever awarded a free agent just nine days earlier, signing with the San Diego Padres for $300 million over 10 years. That's a heck of a lot of fish tacos.
Nolan Arenado set a record for the highest average annual salary for a position player with his Colorado sandwich deal—one year away from free agency, he re-signed with the Rockies on Tuesday for eight years and $260 million with an average annual value of $32.5 million—between the Machado and Harper agreements. That surpasses the $31 million Detroit's Miguel Cabrera will earn annually through 2023.
Harper, Machado, Arenado, three rich—and patient—dudes. Each waited well into spring training to get what they thought they were worth.
Since he wasn't a free agent, Arenado was on a different program. But for Harper and Machado, whose momentum toward this winter had been building and building for the past few seasons, each had to negotiate into overtime to get the deals they sought.
However long it took, the end result was, unquestionably, a big win for the players, who have been growing increasingly agitated over the past two free-agent freeze-out winters.
But no matter how many zeroes are attached to these contracts, call this one battle won while the overall war still rages.