By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com
A few days ago, some baseball executives were speculating Mookie Betts could soon make $400 million on the open market.
But it’s fair to wonder just how realistic that type of contract might be for Betts, or anybody, with the way baseball’s free agency is trending.
Contracts in baseball don't seem to be growing the way they used to. The market has slowed to a crawl.
For years, many speculated that Bryce Harper could be the first player to break the $400 million threshold. Harper reportedly turned down a $300 million offer from the Nationals at the end of the season, with the thought that more money would be headed his way in free agency.
It still seems possible that Harper could eclipse the $325 million given to Giancarlo Stanton, but is $400 million truly within reach?
Probably not. It doesn't seem like this is the offseason to milk an extra $75 million from the market.
Meanwhile, the interest in Manny Machado seems tepid. Is the star infielder even going to sniff $300 million?
The White Sox offer to Machado is for $175 million, over seven years. In some ways, their approach is like Boston's w/ J.D. Martinez last winter -- the Red Sox offered $100 million and waited for two months. If CWS offer emerges as best, a big ? is: Would Machado/NYY re-engage?
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 16, 2019
$175 million for Machado? That’s less than Jason Hayward made from the Cubs.
It’s hard to see Machado not getting more than that, but it’s still a far cry from the $325 million contract he was said to be seeking.
If Harper and Machado don't take the top of the market to heights never seen before, that will only limit the earnings potential for Betts and Mike Trout when they are eligible for free agency in two seasons.
Make no mistake about it: Betts is going to get paid. He set a new $20 million standard for second-year arbitration eligible players for a reason. He is the reigning American League MVP, is only 26 years old, and is easily one of the best players in the game.
But $400 million? Let's not go that far yet.