Baseball’s record-setting free agency spending spree, in charts

Max Scherzer, left, and Will Smith of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the San Francisco Giants 2-1 in Game 5 of the National League Division Series at Oracle Park on October 14, 2021 in San Francisco, California.

Thearon W. Henderson | Getty Images

Major League Baseball deals were halted at midnight Thursday when the league’s collective agreement expired, causing a lockout. But that did not stop a record amount of money that had been distributed in the independent agency market in the previous days.

“It’s a unique situation,” said Patrick Rishe, director of the University of Washington’s sports commerce program, explaining that the impending lockout and uncertainty surrounding the details of the next CBA have pushed the teams and players to act faster than in a typical offseason.

“People might think we should have a lockout every year because it sure made the independent agency situation exciting for a few days.”

Scherzer deal sets record

Pitcher Max Scherzer made headlines and baseball history by signing a three-year, $ 130 million contract with the New York Mets. At $ 43.3 million per year, that makes Scherzer the highest-paid MLB player of all time in terms of average annual contract value, according to Cot’s Contracts, a product of Baseball Prospectus.

The record figure raised eyebrows because Scherzer, eight-time All Star in 14 majors seasons, is 37 and is likely nearing the end of his career.

Rishe said the deal may have been as much about Mets owner Steve Cohen’s desire to “make a splash” in New York City as it was to overturn the team’s 77-85 record last season.

Cohen opened Scherzer’s introductory press conference last week, focusing on how his new starting pitcher would improve Mets World Series odds. He did acknowledge, however, that factors off the field played into the calculation of the deal, saying “I could add a little more for brand building” on top of the value of Scherzer’s skill when given to him. asked how he arrived at the $ 130. number of millions.

Scherzer, who is a union representative in the league, said his landmark deal would serve as a benchmark and “other players can use that number in the future” to help them with their own contract negotiations.

The $ 130 million deal isn’t the most lucrative in total value, according to a list maintained by Cot’s Contracts. The title goes to Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, whose 12-year, $ 426.5 million contract runs until 2030.

The Mets’ total payroll for 2022 is now $ 255.5 million, the most of any MLB team among the 26-man squads planned for opening day.

A record day of $ 1.4 billion

The ABC’s expiration deadline sparked a flurry of deals and teams pledged to hit a single-day all-time high of $ 1.4 billion in player salaries on December 1, according to a tally from the Associated Press.

With Scherzer, five other players signed contracts of $ 100 million or more: shortstop Corey Seager and infielder Marcus Semien with the Texas Rangers, infielder Javier Báez with the Detroit Tigers. , pitcher Kevin Gausman with the Toronto Blue Jays and outfielder Byron Buxton with the Minnesota Twins.


$ 1.4 billion baseball day

Major League Baseball teams pledge to break record $ 1.4 billion in just one day

salaries on December 1 in 27 different offers

Corey seager

Rangers

$ 325 million / 10 years

Max Scherzer

Food

$ 130M / 3

Kevin Gausman

Blue jays

$ 110m / 5

Byron buxton

twins

$ 100 million / 7

Marcus Stroman

cubs

$ 71M / 3

Jon gray

Rangers

$ 56M / 4

Avisail Garcia

Marlins

$ 53M / 4

Marcus Semien

Rangers

$ 175 M / 7

Chris taylor

Dodgers

$ 60M / 4

Javier Baez

Tigers

$ 140m / 6

Raisel

Iglesias

angels

$ 58M / 4

$ 1.4 billion baseball day

Major League Baseball teams are committed to

single-day record of $ 1.4 billion in player play

salaries on December 1 in 27 different offers

Corey seager

Rangers

$ 325 million / 10 years

Marcus Semien

Rangers

$ 175 M / 7

Javier Baez

Tigers

$ 140m / 6

Max Scherzer

Food

$ 130M / 3

Kevin

Gausman

Blue jays

$ 110m / 5

Byron buxton

twins

$ 100 million / 7

Raisel

Iglesias

angels

$ 58M / 4

Jon

Grey

Rangers

$ 56M / 4

Avisail

Garcia

Marlins

$ 53M / 4

Marcus Stroman

cubs

$ 71M / 3

Chris taylor

Dodgers

$ 60M / 4

$ 1.4 billion baseball day

Major League Baseball teams pledge to hit record $ 1.4 billion in just one day

in player salaries on December 1 on 27 different offers

Corey seager

Rangers

$ 325 million / 10 years

Marcus Semien

Rangers

$ 175 M / 7

Javier Baez

Tigers

$ 140m / 6

Max Scherzer

Food

$ 130M / 3

Marcus

Stroman

cubs

$ 71M / 3

Chris taylor

Dodgers

$ 60M / 4

Raisel

Iglesias

angels

$ 58M / 4

Kevin Gausman

Blue jays

$ 110m / 5

Jon gray

Rangers

$ 56M / 4

Byron buxton

twins

$ 100 million / 7

Avisail Garcia

Marlins

$ 53M / 4

In addition to locking in the money and the terms of the contract, Rishe said signing deals now instead of every time the new CBA is finalized – which can take weeks or months – lets players know where they will spend the coming season and start making logistics arrangements.

$ 100 million in near-record transactions

Six players were signed on free agency deals of $ 100 million or more at the time of the lockdown, more than any season other than 2016, a Cot’s Contracts tally dating back to 2010 shows.

With a handful of big names still in the market this year, 2016’s record of seven $ 100 million deals could be broken once the lockdown ends. Players Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman, Kris Bryant and Trevor Story, among others, have entered an unsigned lockout.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if the four players you mentioned also sign $ 100 million deals, assuming we have a full season in 2022,” wrote Jeff Euston, Baseball Prospectus author and financial data curator. , in an email to CNBC when asked about Correa, Freeman’s Free Agency Outlook, Bryant and Story.

Byron Buxton’s contract with the Twins is not counted by Cot’s Contracts as a free agency deal because Minnesota signed it a year before it was on the free market, meaning it didn’t did not have the advantage of aligning the offers of the 29 other clubs. But in addition to the Seager, Semien, Baez, Scherzer and Gausman deals, reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray signed a $ 115 million deal with the Seattle Mariners.

This trend towards larger contracts underscores one of the issues on the table during the CBA talks. Average player salaries are down, according to an Associated Press report, which Rishe says is due to mid-level players having seen their payouts drop even as massive salaries of star players grab the headlines. newspapers.

The MLB Player’s Association wants to make it easier for players to enter free agency and seek more money. The union also wants to increase minimum wages, which stand at $ 570,500.

This year’s spending madness could undermine owners’ positions at the bargaining table, Rishe said. “They can’t cry poverty if they spend that kind of money.”

–CNBC Jabari Young contributed reports.

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