Aaron Judge, Carlos Correa and Trey Turner signed contracts worth a combined total of $1 billion. Xander Bogarts, Jacob deGrom, Dansby Swanson, Carlos Rodone, Brandon Nimmo and Wilson Contreras signed deals for the same total.
There are only nine players, which exemplifies how lucrative agreements have been in baseball during December.
What a difference from last year!
The holiday season has already been a memorable one for many teams and players, a year after Major League Baseball was forced to postpone spring training due to a bitter labor dispute.
Judge decided to stay with the New York Yankees, signing the largest deal in baseball history as a free agent, for nine years and $360 million.
The Puerto Rican Correa has $315 million and a pending 12-year contract to join the New York Mets, while Turner signed with Philadelphia for $300 million and 11 seasons.
Including Wednesday’s transactions, Major League Baseball clubs have signed more than $2.8 billion in free agent deals during this offseason ahead of next season. It dwarfs the winter spending seen over the past five years so far.
By December 20, 2021, this number was $ 1.9 billion. In 2020, it was 187.4 million, when teams had just finished seasons shortened by the pandemic.
The figure was 1.6 billion in 2019, 655.95 million in 2018 and 413.25 million in 2017.
“Whether it’s the owners, the teams that fell short in the playoffs, the ones that do well after the season, the ones that are ready to step up after three, four or five years of rebuilding, you see and a few They’re taking a step back,” Padres general manager AJ Preller said during the Major League Baseball winter meetings.
“Almost everyone wants to move. And that, along with some players who really have quality, explains a very aggressive market.”
Why did this happen?
The March labor agreement set the rules in large companies until 2026. And this is one of the factors that explains the increased spending.
However, there are other forces at play.
The agreement included an expanded playoff format, which leads to more money for television rights owners. This paved the way for advertising on uniforms and helmets for the first time in history.
Under the five-year deal, the luxury tax threshold has been raised to $244 million for the final season, and the rates on the first three thresholds remain unchanged.
A fourth boundary was added, reportedly directed at Mets owner Steve Cohen. It seems the billionaire hardly had a problem with the levies, which brought his club’s payroll to almost $400 million.
Had a more punitive cap system similar to the salary cap been instituted as in other leagues, spending would have been controlled in the off-season. Surely some owners will support a similar concept.
Of course, labor peace is good for business in general, but Major League Baseball is in the process of divesting $900 million from The Walt Disney Company to a technology company for the remainder of its “streaming” service.
That money will go to the clubs before the end of the year.
Major League Baseball had new streaming network packages on Apple TV+ and Peacock last season. They announced in October that fans watched more than 11.5 billion minutes of live games on MLB.TV during the regular season, a record for a streaming package.
This year’s World Series had a gray rating on television. And in the age of wireless devices, there are more questions about the feasibility of regional sports networks broadcasting baseball games.
Viewership is down 5% from their pre-pandemic levels, but the spending suggests at least some optimism about the health of baseball.
It also reflects an unusually large generation of free agents. Judge is the most valuable player in the American League. Turner, Correa, Bogarts and Swanson are All-Star shortstops.
Justin Verlander won the AL Cy Young Trophy with Houston last season and signed a two-year, $85.7 million deal with the Mets.