ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — So baseball just had its version of a drunken frat party.
The season was over, the labor war was only days away and teams were in the mood to overindulge. And, as is usually the case with this much revelry, some folks are going to wake up with serious regret.
Staring at an economic showdown between players and owners that is expected to begin with a lockout Wednesday evening, teams went on a spending spree in recent days.
It was thrilling for fans, it was lucrative for players and it was Armageddon for accountants. General managers were spending money as if they were elected officials.
Max Scherzer is likely a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but the Mets just agreed to pay him $43 million a year until he turns 40. And that was one of the smarter deals.
The top six contracts on the free-agent market, as of Tuesday morning, had fetched just under $1 billion in guaranteed money. To put that into warped perspective:
One of those six players was Kevin Gausman.
He’s a fine pitcher, Gausman. Had his first All-Star appearance last season. But he’s soon to turn 31 and has a 64-71 record with a career ERA of 4.02. In other words, we ain’t talking Gerrit Cole here.
Even the normally reticent Rays got in the action with a contract that will guarantee 20-year-old shortstop Wander Franco at least $182 million over the next 11 years.
Final grades for most of these contracts will not be evident until years down the line. But that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate about winners and losers today.