It's not always apparent and fans certainly don't think about it, but at the end of the day, professional sports is a business.
And everyone, including players, are finding that out more and more.
In an interview wit Pedro Moura of The Athletic, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Justin Upton opened up and gave his thoughts about several different topics, including his experience when it came to free agency a couple years ago.
And it's a pretty sad state of affairs.
"Every team wants you at their price," Upton said. "I'll say this, and I don't give a f--k if you write it or not: I had a stretch in free agency where, within a week, every team called and offered me a one-year deal. After eight years of pretty good baseball. In my mind, that's really, really, really sketchy and weird."
Really, Justin Upton had a lot to say, on hitting, sabermetrics, and criticism.— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) March 2, 2018
“That’s how players should feel about this. When you carry yourself in the clubhouse, just know that the people upstairs see you as a statistic.” https://t.co/TeWTjtRupu
Upton was a free agent after the 2015 season with the San Diego Padres, and he entered the market coming off a season where he slashed .251/.336/.454 with 26 home runs and 81 RBI.
That's not one of Upton's best years, but from 2009-2015 he averaged 25 home runs, 80 RBI and an .832 OPS. That's a very productive player who's a game-changer in the middle of the order.
So why were teams so focused on the negative and only offering one-year deals?
It's pretty obvious and Upton made it clear:
“Teams don’t value players as people anymore,” Upton said. “They value them as a number on a sheet of paper.”
Whether we like it or not, there is validity to what Upton is saying. Every team has an analytics department that they use to evaluate players, and when it comes to free agency, teams want to spend less money and stay away from long-term deals.
That mindset was put on full display this winter, and it doesn't benefit the player at all.