Sure Harper And Machado Got More Money But The Rockies And Nolan Arenado Won The Off Season

The Colorado Rockies signing of Nolan Arenado gives baseball fans like me (insert lawn joke here) reason for hope.

Here is an organization that has been moderately successful over the years that did not succumb to the temptation to get rid of their best player in order to stockpile draft picks and suck for half a decade. And by “suck” I mean, “rebuild.” And it says something about the guy who signed the contract instead of going to free agency next year to squeeze every last dollar out of whomever would pay it.

“I’m doing what’s best for me,” Arenado said after the deal was announced, “I’m not a guy who’s going to be searching for the biggest contract in the game. That’s not me. I want to be where I’m comfortable.”

Awesome. Good guy. Good organization doing the right thing by their employee. They can opt out if something goes haywire, but shouldn’t have a need since this guy is hall-of-fame bound. All he does is hit .300, score 100, knock in 100 and play Gold Glove defense. Win-friggin-win.

The Speaking of antonyms… Bryce Harper to the Phillies for $330 million. The point of this was…what? By not taking Washington’s more-than-fair offer, he actually lost money. Not that $30 million is chump change, but by turning down the National’s offer, he essentially equaled Manny Machado’s contract of $30 mil/year, but then gave himself a $20 mil/year pay cut the last three years.

Questions: Why did he turn down $300 million over 10 years in a city that loves him and tolerates his wild swings in production at the plate? Why did he sign a 13-year contract to play in a city that has thrown batteries at Santa Claus? Why did he sign anywhere for so long when he could have made $100-150 million extra over the last three years of his career?

Answers: Because agent Scott Boras is going to be dead by then and won’t be able to collect a commission. That’s why.

As much as I love the Arenado signing, I have an equal amount of apathy for the San Diego Padres “big signing” as they brought in all-star shortstop Manny Machado to play third. Good for the Pads (pronounced pahhhds, like you’re from Boston, not pads, like, nevermind). Machado was really good for Baltimore at third base, was pretty darn good at shortstop for the Dodgers during his brief stay there and returns to the position with the Padres. But, Arenado is a better player and a better guy. The only thing he ever stepped on were some egos when he challenged Rockies brass to stop screwing around and build a winner. Manny spikes guys like Ty Cobb is still playing, IF he decides to run to first base at all. Ten years of that? No thanks.

And are we really that enthralled with a guy in Harper who hit .249 last year and whose speed seems to be dwindling?

Arenado has a Gold Glove in each of his first six seasons. Harper is where a tall guy with diminishing speed should be: right field. Actually, he should be at first base to keep him from injuring himself diving after balls because he’s not fast enough to get there standing up.

I guess the other problem I’ve had with Harper has always been the “Look at me” thing going since high school and though I think that’s waned somewhat. Judging by his performance in his final All Star game as a National, he seemed to genuinely care about performing for the fans and thanking them. I was hoping that weekend would keep him in Washington, thought, I do kind of wonder, “Was that “love the fans” guy just invented for the week to play well with potential suitors later?”

Taken on performance alone, all three have been at least really, really good. But Arenado has been consistently better than the other two, and, as evidenced by a very quiet contract negotiation, is a better team player and for old baseball fans like me, that’s still worth a hell of a lot when you’re trying to build a winner.

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