Michael Harris II had a great season for the Atlanta Braves. The center fielder won National League Rookie of the Year with a 135 OPS-plus and 19 home runs and 5.3 total WAR. The Braves saw it coming and signed him to an eight-year, $72 million deal this summer.
It seems generous to offer a rookie a long-term deal for a few months into a good season, but it really puts them in a sweet spot. His contract is under their control for seven years under the collective bargaining agreement. Harris was ineligible for arbitration after his third season unless he qualified as a “Super Two” player after his second season. Besides, the only significant money he’s seen as a pro is a $550,000 rookie signing bonus in 2019, so of course he’d be happy with the millions in his pocket.
The problem with Harris and many other players is that they are tied to the team that drafted them for seven years. That doesn’t leave them room to increase his value, so while Julio Rodriguez’s deal looks great, the deal is in the Seattle Mariners’ favor. They control all the options and he has to meet all the MVP escalators to get all the money in a deal that could run through 2039.