I wrote just about a month ago that baseball was ruining pitchers and catchers report day. A lot has happened in the few weeks since then.
First Manny Machado signed with the Padres. Then a few tantalizing days later Bryce Harper finally signed with the Phillies.
What we possibly didn’t expect to happen after that was the cascade of extensions that were set off. Nolan Arenado might have been the best contract of the three, at least before Mike Trout and the Angels made Giuseppe a happy man.
From there came many others, including Alex Bregman, Aaron Nola and more. In many ways, this is a very good thing for baseball. The NBA builds stars – but those stars rarely stay with one team. Lebron James has jumped around from the hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat, back to the Cavaliers and now with the Lakers. Baseball has a long history of players staying with one team, but for awhile it looked like those days were gone. Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr back in 2007. Last year Chipper Jones was elected after a career with the Atlanta Braves, and of course this year Derek Jeter will be inducted as a lifetime Yankee with Mariano Rivera right behind him.
Yet now we’ll have more. Manny Machado never seemed like he would be an Oriole for life, and already he left for the Dodgers to pop that Orioles dream bubble. Bryce Harper is curious – because though he will likely be a Phillie now for the rest of his career – I still question if that sort of stability was really important to him why he just didn’t re-sign with the Washington Nationals?
Mike Trout is clearly a once in a generation player, and now he will remain with the Angels his whole career. That is special. Seeing Machado, Trout and Arenado in particular is huge to be cornerstones for franchises that need cornerstone players. They have nice stadiums and with good teams good fanbases. Now they have players to bring those fans in even in the potentially lean years.
Many criticize the Angels because Mike Trout hasn’t gotten to win a playoff game yet. Yet to think that the Angels can’t work things out to get Trout to the promised land is absurd. Albert Pujols contract is nearly done, and their GM Billy Epler has slowly built up their farm system to contend in the future. Having Mike Trout alone is a drawing card, with Shohei Ohtani being example number 1. Now the Angels know exactly what they will be paying for Trout every season and the budget will be worked around that.
Soon enough, this Thursday the talk of pitch clocks and labor agreements will stop at least for a little while. Instead we will have baseball.
We will find out if the Red Sox can repeat? If Mookie Betts can challenge Trout as the best player in the game today, and just what will Harper and Machado bring to their new teams that have invested so much into them? There is a full slate of games this Thursday, and it should be most exciting to just get back to baseball.