The seven biggest bargain deals in American sports

The image of Sports franchises approaches Black Friday like any contract negotiation

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Michael Harris II had a great season with the Atlanta Braves. The center fielder won National League Rookie of the Year with a 135 OPS plus 19 home runs and a 5.3 ERA. The Braves saw it coming and signed him to an eight-year, $72 million deal this summer.

It seems generous to offer a rookie a long-term deal a few months into a good season, but it really puts them in a good place. His contract is for seven years, according to the collective agreement. Harris will not be eligible for arbitration until after his third season, unless he qualified as a “Super Two” player after his second season. Also, the only significant money he saw as a pro was a $550,000 rookie signing bonus in 2019, so of course he’d settle for a few million in his pocket that quickly.

The problem with Harris and many other players is that they are tied to the team that drafted them for seven years. That leaves no room for them to maximize their value, so while Julio Rodríguez’s contract looks great, the deal favors the Seattle Mariners. They control all the options and he has to meet all the MVP escalators to get all the money in a deal that runs until 2039.


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