Largest Contracts In Draft History

Baseball new collective bargaining agreement went to rather extreme lengths to restrict amateur spending, so the days of big money contracts for drafted players appear to be a thing of the past. Clubs are now given a "draft pool" based on their winning percentage, and they face stiff penalties if they spend more than allotted.

Teams were aware that these restrictions could be put in place, so they spared no expense on last year's draft, likely their final chance to spend freely. The 30 clubs combined to spend $236MM on the draft last year, the most in baseball history. Let's take a second to update our list of the largest contracts in draft history

Major League Contracts

  1. Stephen Strasburg, Nationals (2009, 1st round/1st pick): Four years, $15.1MM. His $7.5MM signing bonus is no longer the draft record, however.
  2. Mark Prior, Cubs (2001, 1/2): Five years, $10.5MM. Prior exercised an opt-out clause near the end of the deal and instead filed for salary arbitration. He earned an extra $1.575MM by doing so.
  3. Bryce Harper, Nationals (2010, 1/1): Five years, $9.9MM. Includes a $6.25MM signing bonus that will be paid out in five installments.
  4. Mark Teixeira, Rangers (2001, 1/5): Four years, $9.5MM. His $4.5MM signing bonus was a draft record for six years.
  5. Danny Hultzen, Mariners (2011, 1/2): Five years, $8.5MM. The deal includes a $6.35MM signing bonus and escalators that could push the total value to $10.6MM.
  6. David Price, Rays (2007, 1/1): Six years, $8.5MM. Like Prior, Price opted out of the final year of his contract and filed for arbitration, earning an extra $2.85MM.
  7. Pat Burrell, Phillies (1998, 1/1): Five years, $8MM. The first of these mega-contracts for draftees.
  8. Dustin Ackley, Mariners (2009, 1/2): Five years, $7.5MM. There's another $2.5MM in incentives tied to how quickly he reached the majors.
  9. Rick Porcello, Tigers (2007, 1/27): Four years, $7.285MM. Porcello also opted out of his contract and filed for arbitration, earning an extra $1.756MM in the process.
  10. Anthony Rendon, Nationals (2011, 1/6): Four years, $7.2MM. All but $1.2MM of the guarantee comes in the form of a signing bonus.

The Hultzen and Rendon deals pushed J.D. Drew and Josh Beckett (both four years, $7MM) out of the top ten. Porcello's contract was designed to match but not exceed Beckett's by pro-rating his 2007 salary.

Big league contracts can no longer be handed out to drafted players according to the new CBA, so this list will not change until the current agreement expires at the earliest.

Minor League Contracts

  1. Gerrit Cole, Pirates (2011, 1/1): $8MM
  2. Bubba Starling, Royals (2011, 1/5): $7.5MM
  3. Jameson Taillon, Pirates (2010, 1/2): $6.5MM
  4. Donavan Tate, Padres (2009, 1/3): $6.25MM
  5. Buster Posey, Giants (2008, 1/5): $6.2MM
  6. Tim Beckham, Rays (2008, 1/1): $6.15MM
  7. Justin Upton, Diamondbacks (2005, 1/1): $6.1MM
  8. Matt Wieters, Orioles (2007, 1/5): $6MM
  9. Eric Hosmer, Royals (2008, 1/3): $6MM
  10. Joe Borchard, White Sox (2000, 1/12): $5.3MM

The Cole and Starling deals pushed Manny Machado and Zach Lee (both 2010 draft picks with $5.25MM bonuses) out of the top ten.

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8 Comments on "Largest Contracts In Draft History"

3 years 5 months ago

Its doubtful even the minor league list will change all that much with the new draft restrictions

Peter Rodgers
3 years 5 months ago

I don’t know where Jeff Samardjiza’s deal with the Cubs is supposed to rank… I thought he would have been up there.

3 years 5 months ago

i forgot how much of a bust Donavan Tate has been

3 years 5 months ago

where is Jeff Samardzija? He was given 5 years/$10 mil

Giraffe Monsoon
3 years 5 months ago

What did the Pirates give first rounder Pedro Alvarez in 2008?
What did they give second rounder Josh Bell in 2011?
Anybody know?

3 years 5 months ago

 I wouldn’t say that. This was one area where all teams were equal before (if they chose to) and look over that list.. Most were success stories, or still on the path towards it.

3 years 5 months ago

is that what you said when aaron harang signed for 2/12 this offseason? he won’t be worth that much. almost everyone on this list is worth much, much more

3 years 5 months ago

 The really funny thing about Tate and what the Padres have also in their system for CF? They have Rey Fuentes, taken by Boston in the 1st round of ’09, but 28th overall who just got a tiny fraction of that 6.25m bonus Tate received (1.3m) and is far and away out producing him for the Padres high A Ball team in speed, obp, excellent fielder.. Just an all around package.

Tate is probably someone they can get away with having floundered so far with Mayben as their current CF and Fuentes a couple of years away.