Seven of the biggest bargain contracts in American sports

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Michael Harris II had a great season for the Atlanta Braves. The centerfielder won National League Rookie of the year with a 135 OPS-plus and 19 home runs, and a 5.3 overall war. The Braves saw this coming and inked him to an eight-year, $72 million contract this summer.

Seems generous to offer a rookie a long-term deal a few months into a good season, but it really puts them in a sweet spot. His contract is, per the collective bargaining agreement, under their control for seven years. Harris wouldn’t be arbitration eligible until after his third season, unless he qualified as a “Super Two” player after his second. Also, the only significant money he has seen as a pro is his $550,000 rookie signing bonus in 2019, so of course, he would be satisfied with some millions in his pocket so quickly.

The problem with Harris, and many other players, is that they are bound to the team that drafted them for seven years. It leaves them no room to maximize their value so while Julio Rodríguez’s contract looks great, the deal favors the Seattle Mariners. They control all the options, and he has to meet all the MVP escalators to get all the money in a deal that can last through 2039.

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