Why baseball spent more than $1bn on three players in a month

Three of the richest contracts in sports history would appear to bust the baseball-is-dying narrative, but underlying trends have exposed a rot within the mechanics of the sport’s economics

The three generational talents on Major League Baseball’s free-agent market this winter were always going to cash in big. But the splashy numbers as they came across the wire were enough to leave even veteran observers slack-jawed.

It kicked off in February when Manny Machado agreed to a 10-year, $300m contract with the San Diego Padres. Bryce Harper followed with a 13-year, $330m deal with the Philadelphia Phillies less than two weeks later, the richest contract by total value in North American sports history.

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