Super long free agent contracts are fine, actually

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It’s pretty difficult to envision where Major League Baseball is going to be 11 or 13 years from now, and yet, there’s been quite a bit of gnashing of teeth over contracts handed out to shortstops Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, and Carlos Correa this offseason. Turner’s 11-year, $300 million deal will end after the 2034 season, when he’s 41 years old. Bogaerts’ 11-year pact, which will pay him $280 million, wraps the same year, also when he’s 41. Correa’s is longer and for more total money, at 13 years and $350 million, but he’s also younger than the other two, meaning he’ll “just” be 41 when the contract ends in 2036.

We’re used to saying something like “it’s just money” when it comes to signing stars to long-term deals. They cost money, even when MLB’s owners are doing their damndest to make sure pay as a whole stays down: the stars and best players at the premium positions still get paid, even when the middle class is slowly crushed under a free agency system that has toppled over them. The thing we need to get used to saying is “it’s just years.” Turner, Bogaerts, and Correa are all signed into the middle of next decade, and their contracts will end when they’re 41, if they even last that long. Because of the length of the deals, the average annual value of the contracts — i.e. how much they count against the soft cap of the luxury tax threshold and what they are costing these teams in present-day dollars each year — is lower. Turner’s deal comes in at an AAV of just over $27 million. Bogaerts’ contract, about $25.5 million per, and Correa’s, just under $27 million.

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