Blake Snell, Rays agree to five-year, $50 million extension

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Another day, another extension given to a pre-arbitration star.

Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that the Tampa Bay Rays and Blake Snell have agreed to a five-year, $50 million contract extension. The deal runs through Snell’s age-30 season and does not include any options. It covers this season, all three of his arbitration seasons and the first year in which he would have, potentially, been a free agent.

Snell, the reigning Cy Young Award winner in the American League, recently had his contract renewed for $573,700, which is barely above the league minimum. He did not take too kindly to that at the time. He will, obviously, will be paid much more now. At the same time, a pitcher of Snell’s caliber would be worth far, far more than $10 million a year for his age 26-30 seasons either on the open market or even by going through arbitration and then hitting the open market, assuming he remained healthy. He can only be had for that discounted amount thanks to the complete lack of leverage on his side. It’s a tradeoff, obviously — money know for the chance of money later, with some risk thrown into the equation — but it’s a tradeoff born of the relative power between the player and the club.

Such has also been the case with multiple other pre-arbitration players this offseason, with Eloy Jimenez and Alex Bregman most prominent among them. As we’ve noted several times lately, until a player gets to arbitration, he has no leverage. Through arbitration, he has limited leverage. The pre-arb and arb period lasts for 6-7 years. Teams, meanwhile, have placed greater and greater emphasis on building their teams around players in that window, thereby maximizing their leverage.

Which is why, however nice a payday $50 million is, Snell will make considerably less money than he could have if he had not taken the deal. His choice to be sure, but one strongly influenced by a Collective Bargaining Agreement which favors the clubs and their current patterns of player usage.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.