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Madison Bumgarner And Zack Wheeler Approached Free Agency Differently

When players sign with teams, they are very rarely honest about why they signed with a team. Mike Hampton said it was the Colorado school system. Manny Machado spoke about San Diego and its weather being the right fit for him and his family. Carlos Beltran talked about how his interest was sparked when the Mets got Pedro Martinez and how he liked the team’s plans going forward.

Seeing these platitudes, it is refreshing to see someone like Zack Greinke be completely honest. When he signed with the Dodgers, he said, “I could play for the worst team if they paid the most. … If the last-place team offers $200 million and the first-place team offers $10, I’m going to go for the $200-million no matter what team it was.” (CBS Sports).

The Dodgers offered the most money entering the 2013 season, and that’s why he found himself in Los Angeles. Three years later, it was the Diamondbacks offering the most money, and that’s why he found himself in Arizona. Interestingly enough, that is not how Madison Bumgarner found himself a member of the Diamondbacks organization.

To the surprise of many, Bumgarner only signed a five year $85 million deal with the Diamondbacks. That seemed to be far less than what other teams were willing to offer, and in fact, it was. As Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic reports, Bumgarner might have left bigger offers on the table to go to Arizona.

Ultimately, Bumgarner signed with the Diamondbacks because he wanted to be in Arizona. Apparently, he has horses and land in Arizona, and he wanted to make that home. It was a personal and family decision over a purely financial one.

It was the same thing which happened with Zack Wheeler.

Wheeler reportedly signed with the Philadelphia Phillies despite the Chicago White Sox offering more money. Wheeler wanted to stay near his wife’s family in New Jersey, and the Phillies offered that opportunity with five year $118 million contract. Unfortunately, the Mets wouldn’t take advantage and sign Wheeler despite the team being given the last chance to sign him.

In the vast majority of cases, player will take the most money offered to them. They are free to do so, and really, it is well within their rights. More than that, they should be applauded for it. They earned this money by their performance in the field, and they deserve to get every penny coming their way.

Still, in some instances, players want more than just the most money offered. A few years ago, the Mets were able to sign Todd Frazier partially because he wanted to be closer to his home in Toms River, New Jersey.

In those instances, the things players say in their press conferences were really the motivating factors for their decisions to sign. Of course, they need to have the opportunity presented. Apparently, Bumgarner and Wheeler got those opportunities, and they are where they want to be. Ultimately, both should be commended for making the best decision for both them and their families.

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