Becky Yells About Baseball: Bryce Harper Edition

Another week, another record-breaking free agent deal in Major League Baseball.

This afternoon, alerts came flooding into my phone that Bryce Harper signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. For… *drum roll*


*Now the biggest free agent contract in history

After Manny Machado signed with the San Diego Padres last week, everyone was waiting for Harper’s deal to drop. And the vibe seemed very “We know it’s going to be something absurd so we’re just going to let it happen.”

And absurd it is. Let’s take a look:

  • He’ll earn just over $25 million per season. He had turned down a 10 year/$300 million contract from the Washington Nationals—where he started his career—so now he’ll actually be making less per year with the Phils than with the Nats.
  • There is no trade clause or opt-outs in his deal. That means during his 13 years, he can’t be traded or he can’t opt out of his deal after x amount of years. (Manny Machado has one opt out after five years in his deal, which is normal for a long-term deal.)
  • There’s no deferred money, so that means he’ll get all $330 million during his 13 years, and no money will be paid to him after his time with the Phillies is over. (Often times teams will pay half of the expected salary per season and push the rest of the payments until after the contract ends. Max Scherzer is an example of deferred money.) According to SI, the Nats deal included $100 million in deferred payments, paying Harper until he’s 60. That doesn’t sound like a bad retirement plan to me…
  • He signed a $20 million signing bonus.

So far the response I’ve seen on social media is that this is just a ridiculous contract. Harper’s contract runs through 2031. I’ll be 37 then. God knows where I’ll be in 13 years, but apparently Harper wants to spend it all in the city of Brotherly Love.

Unlike during the Machado signing, Paul and I were on the same page when the news dropped this afternoon, which included me sending him a lot of “PAUL PAUL PAUL” messages and random Tweets with updated contract information.

Like at the same exact time, according to the time stamps. I was in a co-worker’s office with two of my other co-workers when I get the alerts and I spent the next 15 minutes giving play by play updates as they were coming in.

Since I’ve yelled about how poorly minor leaguers get paid before, Paul raised a good question: Have you done the math on how many minor league players his $330 million could pay?

And since Paul is da real MVP, he did some math for me after I found the average minor league salaries from last year.

Triple-A players averaged $10,000 per month, and if they get paid for six months/one season—they don’t get paid for the whole year—that’s $60,000 per player. He could pay 5,550 players with his salary, which is equal to 222 teams if each team has 25 players.

Ther are only 30 triple-A teams, so if we took a 25 man roster for each team and divided it by $330 million, each player across all triple-A teams would make $440,000. And since I’m a decent human being, I’d pay them for the whole year.

The same would happen with double-A since there are 30 teams. Last year double-A players made $3,000 per month, times six months is $18,000. Once you drop down into single-A teams, it can get a little tricky because there are high A teams, low A teams, and short-season A teams. High-A players made $1,600 per month, and low-A players made $1,300.

Let’s take the $25 million Harper will make each season instead of the lump $330 million. The Phillies have seven affiliates—triple-A, double-A, advance A, full season A, short-season A, and two rookie teams—and if each team has 25 players on it, each player could make ~$142,857 or so. I’d also pay them for the entire year.

Math isn’t my strong suit, and I tried my best with the numbers. Really what Paul and I are trying to say here is that these major league teams have the money to pay minor league players a living wage. I get you need the big talent to get the draw to the park, but don’t take advantage of your farm systems people.

I’ve never liked Harper, so I’m hoping it’ll turn out to be a bust. He must have a lot of confidence in himself to think he’s going to be A. healthy all 13 years, and B. worth $25 million. The no opt-outs is crazy to me, and the no trade clause.

At least he gets to hang out with my favorite person, Gabe Kapler, who according to Paul, didn’t even know how to tell the bullpen to warm up a guy. You can’t win everything.


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