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Buster's Buzz: Players are losing the battle against 'Terminator' contracts

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

In the eyes of many agents, it's as if teams have unleashed a generation of Terminator executives and analysts -- emotionless, killer negotiators relentlessly seeking value, never swayed by the arguments that might've distracted their front-office ancestors.

Past performance? Irrelevant. Extra compensation for leadership? Laughable. The status quo? Something to be questioned, always. It used to be that a veteran on a minor league contract could count on a $1 million salary for a roster spot in the big leagues, but the Terminators now even haggle over those nickels. They haggle over everything.

It's important to remember this, amid the most significant wave of contract extensions in baseball history. Players who aren't free agents have been guaranteed well over $1 billion since the start of training camp. Mike Trout got a lot of money, and so did Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Alex Bregman, Eloy Jimenez and even Whit Merrifield. It's easy to forget that Merrifield's $16 million deal is a life-changing amount of cash.

But these deals extend a management winning streak that is becoming like a labor relations version of Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. The owners won the collective bargaining negotiations of 2016 in a complete rout. They won the free-agent market of 2017-18 and won it again this offseason, gnawing away at the expectations of what players might expect to get.