Evan Longoria’s name no longer carries the same weight that it once did, but it’s always interesting and worth noting when an active player with a solid career resume speaks up and says what every other player is more than likely thinking.
Here’s the full caption:
evan.longoria3 — We are less then a month from the start of spring and once again some of our games biggest starts remain unsigned. Such a shame. It’s seems every day now someone is making up a new analytical tool to devalue players, especially free agents. As fans, why should “value” for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team. And as players we need to stand strong for what we believe we are worth and continue to fight for the rights we have fought for time and time again.
A couple of things crossed my mind after reading this. First, I’m confused as to why this comes across as blaming the fans for the way that free agents are being treated by baseball executives. The fuck we gotta do with this? If anything, the fans are the ones that are screaming at the top of their lungs for their favorite teams to pony up the cash for players like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
I know Yankee fans are. I know Mets fans are. I know Phillies fans are. I know White Sox fans are. You’re not gonna come across too many fan bases who don’t want their favorite team to make a big splash in free agency for a megastar, assuming that it’s the right fit. That is, of course, if they have the financial flexibility to do so. Obviously, Dallas Braden isn’t clamoring for the A’s to get in on the Harper sweepstakes.
I’m also not crazy about the “it’s not your money” line, because…it kind of is our money. With higher payrolls come higher ticket prices, concessions, etc. There’s a reason why the Rays have a low payroll, and it’s not because it’s some sort of analytical strategy.
So, coming at the fans was a little bit weird, but I’m not 100% out on Longoria’s central message, which is that these players should be fielding offers that are much bigger than the ones they’ve reportedly gotten. Seven years, $175 million for Machado is a joke. An average annual value of $25 million for a player of his caliber is laughable, which is all the more reason why fans are looking at their teams’ front offices like, “Uhhhh, hello? Why the fuck aren’t we in on this guy if that’s the market?”
I can see it from both sides, though. No baseball fan is going to read what Longoria wrote and start rioting in the streets because the game’s top stars should be making north of $30 million instead of $25 million. I don’t know what type of reaction he expected, but I doubt a public outcry will follow. However, he’s not wrong. With a record revenue that exceeded $10 billion last year for Major League Baseball, player salaries should be going up, not down. It’s just impossible to convey that without sounding greedy if you’re an active player. The common man doesn’t want to hear about how millionaires are sad that their $175 million contract offers are a slap in the face to them.
I also think that his gripe about the fans and how they value players is unique to this particular offseason. When you’ve got a pair of 26-year-old superstars in Harper and Machado, there’s likely going to be a lot of value in a big-money contract there. This, however, is a rare occasion to see two superstars hit free agency at such a young age. Usually, players are reaching free agency around 29-31 years old and getting these mega deals. Those are the contracts that fans are shunning, because the return on investment is hardly ever satisfactory. Sure, there are examples that have worked out, but there have been more bad ones than good ones; that’s for sure.
Regardless, Harper and Machado have two of the best agents in professional sports. They’ll get their money, even if they have to wait this thing out until March. I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.