“You have a lot of really accomplished free agents still out there, but our job is less about what a player has done in the past and more about what we think they’re going to do going forward,” new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said. “I think that’s some of the slowdown that you see in the market, is players valuing themselves based on what they feel they’ve earned in their careers and front offices maybe being a little more oriented towards what can we expect for this player in 2019 and going forward.”
Those are two wildly different perspectives, and there is no way to get them to meet.
Moreover, when you have a player turning down 10 years and 300 million, it's hard to argue that players aren't getting paid what they've earned. I get it, guys who's clocks aren't starting, making league minimums, etc. That's broken. But if you are using Bryce Harper and Manny Machado as the poster boys of the problem, you're going to lose the public opinion battle big time.
The person (and I'm not saying this because he's on my team) you need to be rolling out there is Jacob DeGrom:
He's going to get a nice extension that wipes out his arbitration remaining years, but the only way he gets that is from his current team. If he actually gets to FA at age 32, he's going to get f'd because he'll be too old to cash in.
He wants to get paid back for the 2014-2018 years where he was severely underpaid, while owners/GMs are trying to assess value for 2020 and going forward. You'll never get those two perspectives to come close to aligning unless you break up the entire arbitration system. He made 1.5 million total between 2014 and 2016, and provided his team with almost 12 wins above replacement in that time frame. That's completely out of sync.
The players aren't wrong about this, but it's not because of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.