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Old 04-06-2018, 12:20 PM   #1
LegalEagle80
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Free Agency and Unrealistic Contracts

I love the game, but the unrealistic free agent contracts are killing the immersion for me. Please note, I'm not interested in the discussion of whether a player should be making $25+ million a year. In today's MLB, that's the reality of a very good player. Bryce Harper is going to make over $35 million a year in his next contract, whether you like it or not.

That said, I've simmed the 2018 season a few times now. Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson and Clayton Kershaw were all free agents. Kershaw signed first, at $32 million per year for 6 years with the Mets. That was realistic (even though in real life he's almost certainly going to stay a Dodger). In January, Harper signed for $18 million a year for 4 years with the Brewers. Machado signed for 4 years at $17 per with Tampa Bay. Donaldson signed for 4 years, $11 million during spring training in March with Minnesota. Zach Britton and Andrew Miller were still unsigned during spring training, and had dropped their demands below $10 million per season and would sign a 1-year deal.

I think the issue is that the AI teams spend all their money early on (or at least offer pending contracts to so many players that they effectively are locked out of using their money to meet a superstar's demand), so that no teams actually have any money left to sign a superstar. Kershaw's contract was realistic because he signed 2 days into free agency. The rest of the players went into January, February and March without signing. By then, their demands were at least 50% lower because nobody had any money left, and thus small market teams were able to sign them.

This breaks immersion for me. Superstars should sign early and/or their demands should mostly be met. They also shouldn't be interested in signing with a small market team that isn't contending generally, just because that's the way the modern MLB works. Superstars aren't going to Minnesota, Tampa and Milwaukee in free agency.
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Old 04-06-2018, 02:47 PM   #2
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I saw this in the one sim I ran as a test too. Not quite as bad, but Harper signed for something like 4 years and $22 million or something like that. At the start of the season, I looked into doing extensions with guys, and their starting points were crazy high. Neil Walker for instance just got jobbed into a $4 million 1 year deal, but started out by asking for 8 years and $29 million per before a single game.

Love the game, but this is an area with room to improve. Contracts are by far the toughest thing to balance though, especially with the way the market has gone the last few years. Not sure if there is a way to keep teams from making too many offers at a time to avoid the issue you noted, but that does seem to be the problem in my experiences.
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Old 04-06-2018, 02:48 PM   #3
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I do see very good contracts offered if you use the inflation feature. I usually go 1 to 3% annually.
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Old 04-06-2018, 02:53 PM   #4
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It seems like the improvement would be in the weight teams give superstars in free agency. If they prioritized signing them in their budgets, it would lead to actual bidding wars, or at least players getting close to their market value.

Instead the AI seems to go after tons of RPs and multiple low-to-mid tier 4th and 5th outfielders and suddenly they all find that they overspent on a bunch of guys they're going to put on waivers that year instead of the superstar. When they ALL do that, it's a major problem.

In addition to breaking immersion it becomes way too easy for me to sign them. I always have more money than CPU teams so it's just a matter of slightly outbidding them and still coming away with a great deal.
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Old 04-06-2018, 02:58 PM   #5
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Yes, I imagine this is very difficult to program. That's why, with issues such as this, I wouldn't mind if the game departed from reality a little bit, if it gave us a stronger, more realistic, AI.

For example, how about a single signing period where the AI deals with extensions and free agent signings all at once? That way it can calculate the cost of extensions against free agents. The problem now is that the AI has no idea who the free agents are going to be at the end of the year, so they may offer extensions and run out of money before the free agent period starts. If all player costs were known to the AI at the same time, it may distribute its money in a more realistic way.

The difficulty of the programming is also why I don't take players from the AI on waivers. It just isn't capable of managing all the complexities of the financial system well enough, so I leave it alone when it runs to problems and places good players on waivers.

Last edited by highandoutside; 04-06-2018 at 03:02 PM.
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Old 04-06-2018, 03:06 PM   #6
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in real life both things happen..

in general the big contracts set the market, then the dominoes fall. then later the lwer priced guys get signed...

however, some guys do hold out too long and then sign for a great reduction.

jd martinez saw the writing on the wall.. probably would have gotten 25-30m/year just a couple years ago for his produciton, and not barely breaks 20M/year... he was smart and listened to his agent.. signed before he missed out.

there's a clear cooperation amongst owners to stagnate salaries for the last 5 years (including this one).

there's no way to predict what's going to happen with salaries other than a general trend upward over the long-term due to inflation. their salaries won't continuously rise at the rates we've seen since FA's inception, but it shouldn't level off either.. merely the growth will level off to some relatively constant percent with a large enough sample.

it grew so fast because the owners were hording most of the money and still are... if you think the %'s from teh CBA relate to real net cash inflow, you are severely mistaken. accounting is the science of hiding money.. and they do a really good job of it to reduce tax burden as well as ammunition during negotiations with the mbbpa.

just look at how the marlins duped their local city to pay for a large portion of their new stadium... they could have afforded it themselves, yet take/extrort gov't handouts by threatening a move... what a joke. only 1/5th of the population even cares about baseball and sports in general.. they should not be able to steal public money for these private ventures.

damn communists... really.
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Old 04-06-2018, 04:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoOne View Post
there's a clear cooperation amongst owners to stagnate salaries for the last 5 years (including this one).
And yet no grievance by the MLBPA. Seems there is little evidence to indicate collusion. Instead, there is the pressure of the luxury tax, which got quite a bit harsher in the current CBA and the threshold for which has fallen well behind the industry's revenue growth rate, and the ever-growing impact of 'moneyball'-type analyses and judgements.

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there's no way to predict what's going to happen with salaries other than a general trend upward over the long-term due to inflation.
Both player salaries and club revenue, since the mid-1970s, have grown at rates far in excess of the general consumer inflation rate. As long as revenue grows, player salaries will grow, though not necessarily at a matching rate (see above for some reasons).

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it grew so fast because the owners were hording most of the money and still are...
No, salaries grew because revenues started growing sharply, largely driven by cable television's growth in the late 1970s and early 1980s. That was combined with the introduction of free agency and the curbing of signing bonuses for amateur players via the adoption of the amateur draft. (It should be noted salaries grew during the reserve clause era as well.)

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if you think the %'s from teh CBA relate to real net cash inflow, you are severely mistaken. accounting is the science of hiding money.. and they do a really good job of it to reduce tax burden as well as ammunition during negotiations with the mbbpa.
The MLBPA has access to the audited financial statements of the clubs as part of the CBA. The union can easily hire economists and accountants to examine those club financial statements.

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just look at how the marlins duped their local city to pay for a large portion of their new stadium...
That is a mostly American phenomenon, where municipalities fork over considerable amounts of public dollars to help finance the construction of parks/stadiums/arenas for private clubs, usually under the auspices of it generating general economic growth the that area of the municipality. (Whether there actually is such general economic benefit is hotly debated; studies can be found both for and against.)

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they could have afforded it themselves, yet take/extrort gov't handouts by threatening a move... what a joke.
That is hardly limited to baseball; it's been seen in the NHL, NBA, and especially the NFL (which as a league has little effective control over clubs relocating after Al Davis successfully sued). Look up the term 'franchise free agency' to find some studies on the subject.
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Old 04-06-2018, 05:13 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by highandoutside View Post
Yes, I imagine this is very difficult to program. That's why, with issues such as this, I wouldn't mind if the game departed from reality a little bit, if it gave us a stronger, more realistic, AI.

For example, how about a single signing period where the AI deals with extensions and free agent signings all at once? That way it can calculate the cost of extensions against free agents. The problem now is that the AI has no idea who the free agents are going to be at the end of the year, so they may offer extensions and run out of money before the free agent period starts. If all player costs were known to the AI at the same time, it may distribute its money in a more realistic way.

The difficulty of the programming is also why I don't take players from the AI on waivers. It just isn't capable of managing all the complexities of the financial system well enough, so I leave it alone when it runs to problems and places good players on waivers.
I agree. I figured the thread would be hijacked with bigger picture conversations about free agency, unions and the CBA. I didn't want to get into that for the purposes of this issue.

Yes, programming the AI re: future signings has to be incredibly complicated. The rest of the game is so good it makes it extra frustrating when I see the free agent issue continue to happen, or when I see a team with a solid prospect in a position sign an aging player to a fairly large contract rather than promote from their minor leagues, but it's inevitable with how many moving parts there are.
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Old 04-06-2018, 05:14 PM   #9
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I've seen it go both ways. I wanted to sign Harper myself and heard you can get a bargain if you wait. He signed with someone else just a week after filing, and I was screwed...
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Old 04-07-2018, 12:58 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LegalEagle80 View Post
I love the game, but the unrealistic free agent contracts are killing the immersion for me. Please note, I'm not interested in the discussion of whether a player should be making $25+ million a year. In today's MLB, that's the reality of a very good player. Bryce Harper is going to make over $35 million a year in his next contract, whether you like it or not.

That said, I've simmed the 2018 season a few times now. Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson and Clayton Kershaw were all free agents. Kershaw signed first, at $32 million per year for 6 years with the Mets. That was realistic (even though in real life he's almost certainly going to stay a Dodger). In January, Harper signed for $18 million a year for 4 years with the Brewers. Machado signed for 4 years at $17 per with Tampa Bay. Donaldson signed for 4 years, $11 million during spring training in March with Minnesota. Zach Britton and Andrew Miller were still unsigned during spring training, and had dropped their demands below $10 million per season and would sign a 1-year deal.

I think the issue is that the AI teams spend all their money early on (or at least offer pending contracts to so many players that they effectively are locked out of using their money to meet a superstar's demand), so that no teams actually have any money left to sign a superstar. Kershaw's contract was realistic because he signed 2 days into free agency. The rest of the players went into January, February and March without signing. By then, their demands were at least 50% lower because nobody had any money left, and thus small market teams were able to sign them.

This breaks immersion for me. Superstars should sign early and/or their demands should mostly be met. They also shouldn't be interested in signing with a small market team that isn't contending generally, just because that's the way the modern MLB works. Superstars aren't going to Minnesota, Tampa and Milwaukee in free agency.
David Stearns for President!!!
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Old 04-07-2018, 03:38 AM   #11
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Yes, I imagine this is very difficult to program. That's why, with issues such as this, I wouldn't mind if the game departed from reality a little bit, if it gave us a stronger, more realistic, AI.
And thus Skynet was born...
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Old 04-07-2018, 04:40 AM   #12
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Top-tier FA contracts have been too low in the game for years and years now.
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Old 04-07-2018, 05:59 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by WIUPIKE View Post
I do see very good contracts offered if you use the inflation feature. I usually go 1 to 3% annually.
in what years are you seeing the realistic contracts? I too like using inflation, but are the contracts realistic as of 2018, 2019 & 2020? or are they realistic numbers for today's real world, but the OOTP's future?

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Old 04-07-2018, 09:59 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LegalEagle80 View Post
It seems like the improvement would be in the weight teams give superstars in free agency. If they prioritized signing them in their budgets, it would lead to actual bidding wars, or at least players getting close to their market value.

Instead the AI seems to go after tons of RPs and multiple low-to-mid tier 4th and 5th outfielders and suddenly they all find that they overspent on a bunch of guys they're going to put on waivers that year instead of the superstar. When they ALL do that, it's a major problem.

In addition to breaking immersion it becomes way too easy for me to sign them. I always have more money than CPU teams so it's just a matter of slightly outbidding them and still coming away with a great deal.
very good post. I hope the people at OOTP read your post and give it some thought...........Z
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Old 04-07-2018, 10:28 AM   #15
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I've seen it go both ways. I wanted to sign Harper myself and heard you can get a bargain if you wait. He signed with someone else just a week after filing, and I was screwed...
Guess I'll have to go after Harper right off the bat.
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Old 04-07-2018, 10:35 AM   #16
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every single offseason star relievers like britton, kimbrel, etc are always unsigned at the start of the season and always sign one year deals and end up in the exact same situation the next year. very annoying and breaks immersion for me.

harper and machado always get underpaid, and then always have opt outs after the first season of the contract so they're free agents after every season too, and the same thing keeps happening until i get the urge to go into commish mode and just edit their contracts so they don't have an opt out.

when i was playing my test game as the yankees i was able to sign both harper and machado without getting outbid by anyone because i offered them slightly less than their demands at the start of free agency.

the early part of the game (first ten seasons or so) is always the hardest part for me to get through because there is always immersion breaking stuff like this that's hard for me to deal with.
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Old 04-07-2018, 11:49 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by LegalEagle80 View Post

I think the issue is that the AI teams spend all their money early on (or at least offer pending contracts to so many players that they effectively are locked out of using their money to meet a superstar's demand), so that no teams actually have any money left to sign a superstar. Kershaw's contract was realistic because he signed 2 days into free agency. The rest of the players went into January, February and March without signing. By then, their demands were at least 50% lower because nobody had any money left, and thus small market teams were able to sign them.

This breaks immersion for me. Superstars should sign early and/or their demands should mostly be met. They also shouldn't be interested in signing with a small market team that isn't contending generally, just because that's the way the modern MLB works. Superstars aren't going to Minnesota, Tampa and Milwaukee in free agency.
Do you think raising the ave attendance in the league options would help by giving the AI teams more money to spend or do you think they would not use the extra money on free agency anyway. Until OOTP looks at this there must be something we can do to make the AI equal with us. Trouble is we would get more money also..............Z
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Old 04-07-2018, 12:44 PM   #18
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I fix this issue by basically giving the Yankees, Dodgers, and Red Sox all the money. I set their local contracts to 150-250m a year. Sometimes the Yankees still leave 100m in available monies. But they do a pretty good job of signing the high dollar players. Sometimes I have to go in and force them to make some signings too.
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Old 04-07-2018, 01:01 PM   #19
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Harper just got an 8 year/$400 million in my first offseason. While extremely large of a deal, I can see it happening.

I am playing as the Mets and Asdrubal Cabrera wanted $22 million a year. Something is definitely off.
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Old 04-10-2018, 10:51 PM   #20
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I just traded Fowler away to make room for Harper. Signed him to a 10 year/$434 mil deal. So I guess I'm broken and not the game.. LOL. I wasn't taking a chance, we missed the playoffs and the owner gave me money and said, "Go out and sign an MVP award winner". (which Harper was in 2018)

Yankees signed Kershaw to a huge deal. Atlanta, who not only made the playoffs but made it to the NLCS, signed Donaldson and Machado. That one only makes sense if they move Machado to SS since Donaldson only plays 3B. I'll keep an eye on that one.

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