Seven of the biggest collective bargaining agreements in American sports

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Michael Harris II had a great season for the Atlanta Braves. The center fielder won National League Rookie of the Year honors with a 135 OPS-plus and 19 home runs and a 5.3 overall WAR. The Braves saw this coming and signed him to an eight-year, $72 million deal this summer.

It seems generous to offer a rookie a long-term deal a few months into a good season, but it really puts them in the sweet spot. His contract is according to the collective agreement under their management for seven years. Harris would not be eligible for arbitration until after his third season, unless he qualifies as a “Super Two” player after his second. The only significant money he’s seen as a pro is his $550,000 rookie bonus in 2019, so of course he’d be happy with some millions in his pocket so soon.

The problem with Harris, and many other players, is that they are tied to the team that drafted them for seven years. That leaves them with no room to maximize their value so while Julio Rodriguez’s deal looks good, the deal is in favor of the Seattle Mariners. They control all the options and he has to meet all the MVP escalators to get all the money in a contract that can last until 2039.

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