After a long and drawn-out saga throughout the majority of the offseason, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have finally found new homes as spring training gets underway.
Machado signed a 10-year contract worth $300 million to play for the San Diego Padres while Harper committed to 13 years with the Philadelphia Phillies for $330 million. They are both among the top three richest contracts in the history of American sports along with the deal signed by Giancarlo Stanton in 2014.
But the amount of time it took for teams to make a move on either of the free agents left fans wondering if their hefty price tags were worth it. There is no doubt that Harper and Machado are two of the game’s greats, but is a single player ever worth committing that much time and capital to in a sport like baseball?
The projected win total for the Padres only jumped by a handful of games after the signing. They have a lot of young talent and expect to compete in the next few years, but it is not like one guy can come in and win a World Series from scratch. It could be the best thing the Padres have ever done, but I still see it as risky at this point in their rebuild.
Harper, however, was the dramatic culmination of the most thrilling offseason in the history of the Phillies.
A young Philadelphia squad won a modest 80 games in 2018 but bolstered their roster with five former All-Stars through free agency. The Phillies signed J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura and David Robertson to set up the Harper deal and are expected to contend for a championship. They will, however, have to do it in one of the most competitive divisions in baseball.
The 2019 Major League Baseball season will begin with two games between the Mariners and Athletics in Tokyo on March 21-22. It will begin officially for all teams on March 28, the earliest start date in league history. The Astros will open their season with a four-game series against the Rays in Tampa Bay while the Rangers host the Chicago Cubs for three.
One of the more exciting new elements to the 2019 schedule is the first ever game in Europe. The Red Sox and Yankees will take their storied rivalry to England on June 29-30 to play two games at London Stadium.