Free-agent slugger Bryce Harper agreed to the biggest deal in MLB history Thursday signing a 13-year, $330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.
It brings an end to one of the most intense and drawn out free-agencies in quite some time. Unfortunately, for the White Sox, it was the worst possible outcome, especially for their fans.
The fans believed that this year’s free agent class was the best opportunity for the team that had the second lowest payroll in baseball. For most of the winter, the White Sox were the favorite to land free-agent third baseman as they had the highest offer until being outbid by the San Diego Padres. Machado signed a 10-year, $300-million deal turning down Chicago’s 8-year $250 million offer with incentives for $100 million more.
With Harper, the Phillies signed him to a very questionable deal as the 13-year deal has no opt-out clauses for either side and he will be paid 25 million until the age of 39. The only other team that could have matched the deal would have been the White Sox as they and the Phillies had the most money to spend.
For White Sox fans, it wasn’t if the money got spent, but how and when the money got spent. Many fans are highly upset with the team for getting outbid by the Padres and Phillies for Machado and Harper. Supporters felt spurred by the White Sox front office as there was little to no reason as to why big money couldn’t be spent on either free agent. Many were also hoping to finally see an organizational change and to see their team sign a big-time free agent to a massive contract.
Another issue fans are grappling with is the missed marketing opportunity the team missed on. Signing either free agent would have given the White Sox a top-five player talent both on and off the field. Either one of them would have instantly increased ticket sales, jersey sales, and increased the team’s amount of nationally televised games.
The San Diego Padres have seen a million dollar jump in season ticket sales since singing Machado last week. The revenue and marketability increase would have given the fanbase a huge excitement boost and grown the fan base extensively. Within signing Harper, the Phillies sold an additional 100,00 tickets for games this season.
Now with this year’s free agency over, supporters of the team are left trusting the organization’s commitment to win. General manager Rick Hahn has reiterated the money intended for Machado will be spent one way or another. The next big free agent class will not be for another two seasons when Mookie Betts and Mike Trout will become free agents. Fans are already pessimistic for the team’s ability and want to target either of the two as their deal maybe be more costly than either Harper or Machado’s deals.
The fans were the ones hurt the most by the team’s unwillingness to spend this off-season.
From the start of the off-season to now, it has been a complete 180 in hope and optimism for Chicago White Sox fans. As the rebuild continues, there will be no free agents to signal that the team is near ready to compete as other successful rebuilds have done in the past. What’s worse is that there will be the fanbase’s distrust and disdain for the organization feeling like they were being lied to all along.