SPORTS-BBN-NATIONALS-MARLINS-3-MI

Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper (34) lost his helmet Sept. 17 while batting in the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla.

Baseball season is now finished, and players with expired contracts are free agents, meaning players are allowed to start talking with teams about their next payday. 

This free-agent class is one of the best in some time. Perennial all-stars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are just two of the many standout players. 

Age plays a huge factor in each of their future contracts, as both players are just about to enter their primes at 26. 

The biggest issue for them is how much teams are willing to spend. Not only that, but are there teams fine with the on-and-off-the-field antics of each player? 

First, let’s look at Harper. His stats speak for themselves with a career batting average of .279, an on-base percentage of .388 and 184 home runs in seven seasons. Harper won the National League (NL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 2015. 

However, there have been numerous on-and-off-the-field issues with Harper’s attitude. In 2015, Harper and closer Jonathan Papelbon fought inside the dugout in the eighth inning during a game against the Phillies. The next season he called out umpire Brian Knight in his postgame interview after he was ejected. Finally, this season he had two incidents with umpire Laz Diaz after arguing the strike-zone on both occasions. 

These arguments with umpires and his own teammates are all questions for teams interestedin signing him. Reports from multiple sources have said that the Nationals offered Harper a 10-year $300 million contract to stay near the end of the regular season. He reportedly declined the offer and instead is choosing to test the free-agent market.      

Second is Machado, who left for the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trade deadline from the Baltimore Orioles. The team went to the World Series but fell short to the Boston Red Sox. 

Machado just finished his seventh season and, like Harper, he’s had incredible career numbers. He has a batting average of .282, on-base percentage of .335 and 175 home runs. On top of that, he set career highs for batting average, home runs and runs batted in this season. 

The problems stem from his on-field antics. He became public enemy No. 1 in this past postseason. Machado had made many controversial slides into bases, and nearly took out Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar. 

The belief around the baseball world is that both players will be the two highest-paid players in the league. Currently, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout earns the most with a salary of $36 million a year. 

The contract most comparable to the ones they could see is Giancarlo Stanton’s. His contract is worth $325 million, but he has the ability to option out of the contract every year after 2020. The contracts would most certainly be more than $325 million, and could reach upwards of $450 to $500 million. 

There is no denying the talent in both individuals, but to answer the question on if they are deserving of such contracts: no. There isn’t an athlete in any sport that is worth more than $40 million a year, and they certainly are not with the attitudes they display.     

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