Every Team’s Most Expensive Contract

Last week the Royals signed catcher Salvador Perez to an $82M, four year extension. It was the biggest contract in team history. That started me wondering about other teams’ record deals. So I decided to do a little digging. Some of the deals are surprising to me, some famous and some infamous.

New York Yankees: Gerrit Cole, $324M over 9 years, signed before the 2020 season. Their previous record was Alex Rodriguez—$275M for 10 years signed in 2008. Until Cole’s deal, A-Rod had the distinction of being the record holder for two teams. Rodriguez, in turn, bested Derek Jeter’s 10 year, $189M deal signed in 2001.

Tampa Bay Rays—Evan Longoria, $100M over 6 years, signed in 2012. Really, it was $130M as it also bought up three option years at $10M per. It was still below market. That was an extension; their biggest free agent deal was and still is Wilson Alvarez for three years and $38M in the inaugural Devil Rays season in 1998.

Toronto Blue Jays—George Springer, this year, for 6 years and $150M. Their previous record, signed in 2006, for 7 years and $126M belonged to Vernon Wells.

Boston Red Sox—David Price, 7 years, $217M, signed in 2015. Of course, what remains of that deal belongs to the Dodgers…and how crazy is it that he’s starting the season in the Dodgers’ pen along with Tony Gonsolin because they have seven viable starting pitchers? I know, the blurb was supposed to be all about the Red Sox. Tough. If they don’t like it, they stop worrying so much about the luxury tax and resign their players like now Dodger forever Mookie Betts. They can afford it.

Baltimore Orioles—Chris Davis, $161M for 7 seven years, signed in 2016. I’m so sorry, O’s fans.

Minnesota Twins—Joe Mauer, $184M over 8 years, signed in 2010. No Twins fan should ever complain about that one. Their biggest free agent deal has the same average annual value: Josh Donaldson’s 4 year/$92M deal signed last year.

Chicago White Sox—Yasmani Grandal, $73M over 4 years, signed last year. #2 was also last year, Yoan Moncada at $70M over 5 years. It should be noted that, when they signed Albert Belle for $55M over 5 years in 1996, it was the biggest deal in MLB.

Cleveland Indians—Edwin Encarnacion, $60M for three years in 2017. Theirs is the lowest among any of the MLB teams, tied with the Pirates.

Kansas City Royals—Salvador Perez, as listed above. Their previous record was Alex Gordon, $74M over 4 years, signed in 2016.

Detroit Tigers—Miguel Cabrera, $248M over 8 years…signed in 2014, but not taking effect until 2016. Their previous record was Prince Fielder at $214M over 9 years, signed in 2012. Reminder: spending money is good, spending it stupidly not so much (referring to Fielder deal).

Houston Astros—Jose Altuve, $151M for 5 years, signed in 2018. Springer’s deal with the Blue Jays was lower. If they hadn’t low-balled him and manipulated his service time, he might still be in Houston.

Oakland A’s—Eric Chavez, $66M for 6 years, signed in 2004. That was an extension; their biggest free agent deal wasBilly Butler’s $30M over 3 years in 2015.

Los Angeles Angels—Mike Trout, $360M, 10 years, signed in 2019. That broke Albert Pujols’ 10 year, $240M deal that ends this year. That deal is now their #3; #2 is Anthony Rendon’s deal signed last year, $245M for 7 years.

Texas Rangers—Alex Rodriguez, $252M for 10 years. Signed in 2000, it’s the oldest of the team records. Of course, he was a Yankee before it was over…and replaced with a new, then record, deal with the Yankees before 10 years was up too.

Seattle Mariners—Robinson Cano, $240M for 10 years, signed in 2013. They’re very happy it’s the Mets problem now. Then again, the Mets don’t have to pay him this year, either. Also in 2013 was a better deal for them: Felix Hernandez for $175M over 7 years.

Washington Nationals—Stephen Strasburg, $245 M over 7 years. That surpassed: Stephen Strasburg, 7 years and $175M, signed in 2016. Its the only instance of a player breaking his own team record.

Atlanta Braves—Freddie Freeman, $135M, 8 years, signed in 2014. He hits free agency after the season if the Braves fail to resign him. Pay the man, Braves. You are a large market team and can afford to pay the MVP.

New York Mets—David Wright, $138M over 8 years, signed in 2012. This record is going down. They’ve offered Francisco Lindor $325M for 10 years; he wants $375. If he hits free agency after the season, there’s also Carlos Correa, Javier Baez, Trevor Story and Corey Seager potentially hitting free agency too…any of them will cost more than $138M. Previous record: Carlos Beltran, $119M, 7 years in 2005. UPDATE: That took less than 12 hours from the time I wrote this. Lindor and the Mets have agreed on a 10 year, $341M deal.

Philadelphia Phillies—Bryce Harper, $330M over 13 years, signed in 2019. That blew away Cole Hamels’ $144M over 6 years, signed in 2012. That, in turn, beat Ryan Howard’s signing a $125M deal in 2010 to cover the 2012-2016 seasons. $125M for a career 14 WAR player. Yikes.

Miami Marlins—Giancarlo Stanton, $325M for 13 years, signed in 2014. Their previous record was Jose Reyes’ $106M, 6 year deal signed in 2012. He was a Brewer starting in 2013. Pretty much everyone I know figured Stanton would be gone from the Marlins long before the deal ended. Their biggest non-salary dumped deal is one they’d like to forget: Wei Yin Chen for $80M over 5 years, signed in 2016.

St Louis Cardinals—Paul Goldschmidt, $130M, 5 years in 2019. They offered Albert Pujols more in 2012, but not as much as the Angels did. Dodged a bullet or missed out on having an all time great be a lifetime Cardinal, depending on perspective.

Chicago Cubs—Jason Heyward, $184M for 8 years, signed before the 2016 season. Cubs fans have to be real happy he was there in 2016 at least. Reminder: Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, and Kris Bryant all have contracts expiring this year. If they play well this year, all will be real expensive to resign. This team will be very different within the next 12 months.

Milwaukee Brewers—Christian Yelich, $188.5M, 7 years, signed last year. That eclipsed Lorenzo Cain’s 2018 deal for $80M for 5 years by a lot. Here’s hoping Yelich’s 2020 was a pandemic fluke.

Cincinnati Reds—Joey Votto, $225M for 10 years, signed in 2012. That deal was worth it. It was an extension of course. The Reds’s record for free agents came just last year: both Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas signed 4 year, $64M deals.

Pittsburgh Pirates—Jason Kendall, $60M, 6 years, signed in 2000. $60M ties the Indians for lowest dollar total for the team record deal. They’re also tied with the Rangers for oldest team record. Theirs is the lowest average annual value. Does anyone really wonder why this team has become a perennial doormat?

Los Angeles Dodgers—Mookie Betts, $365M, 12 years, signed last spring. It surpassed Clayton Kershaw’s $215M, 7 year deal signed in 2014. Note that the Dodgers have finished first in their division every year since they signed that Kershaw deal.

San Diego Padres-Fernando Tatis, Jr, $340M, 14 years, signed this offseason. Their previous record was $300M for 10 years to Manny Machado in 2019. The Padres are unique in having two $300M players.

Arizona Diamondbacks—Zack Greinke, $206.5M, 6 years in 2015. Of course he’s an Astro now, and Goldschmidt is a Cardinal. Sorry, Snakes fans.

San Francisco Giants—Buster Posey, $159M, 8 years, signed in 2015. They’d just won their third World Series in 5 years when he signed the deal. The team has regressed, badly, since then but Posey has been an All Star in 4 of the 5 seasons he’s played.

Colorado Rockies—Nolan Arenado, $234M, 10 years, signed in 2019. Now they will pay him to play for the Cardinals. I’d be ill if I were a Rockies fan…and resigning myself to the idea that Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon are probably going to be playing elsewhere by next season. Their previous record was Troy Tulowitzki, $158M, 10 years in 2011. Their record for someone who got to play for the Rockies for the whole deal: Todd Helton signed for $141M for 9 years in 2003.

4 thoughts on “Every Team’s Most Expensive Contract

    1. I’d have skipped the O’s had not the omission been glaring. The Davis deal, like Ryan Howard’s and Prince Fielder’s was bad before the ink was even dry on the contract.

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  1. I love to talk crap about poor (I mean rich) Chris Davis; the price of his ineptitude is legend. But Albert Pujols. Oh, my blessed heart Albert Pujols. In 11 seasons with the Cards, Pujols won three MVPs. Everyone knows that. Did you know he was MVP runner-up four times? He was third, fourth, fifth, and ninth? That’s 11 years in the top 10. Here in sunny So Cal, Albert has reached seventeenth place in the MVP vote twice in ten years. And yes, I’m assuming he won’t get any votes this season.

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    1. It was clear Pujols’ deal wouldn’t be worth his salary by the end of the deal. Virtually nobody is still a great player in their 40’s. However, I don’t rate it as bad as the Chris Davis, Ryan Howard, or Prince Fielder deals even though it was for more money. The Angels did get three seasons of 30+ homers, and 5 years of 110+ OPS+. They have a guy who will still be making appearances for them long after he retires. More importantly, the Angels were not bidding against themselves. The other teams overpaid without having to.

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