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
- Stephen Strasburg, Nationals (2009, 1st round/1st pick): Four years, $15.1MM. His $7.5MM signing bonus is no longer the draft record, however.
- 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.
- Bryce Harper, Nationals (2010, 1/1): Five years, $9.9MM. Includes a $6.25MM signing bonus that will be paid out in five installments.
- Mark Teixeira, Rangers (2001, 1/5): Four years, $9.5MM. His $4.5MM signing bonus was a draft record for six years.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pat Burrell, Phillies (1998, 1/1): Five years, $8MM. The first of these mega-contracts for draftees.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Gerrit Cole, Pirates (2011, 1/1): $8MM
- Bubba Starling, Royals (2011, 1/5): $7.5MM
- Jameson Taillon, Pirates (2010, 1/2): $6.5MM
- Donavan Tate, Padres (2009, 1/3): $6.25MM
- Buster Posey, Giants (2008, 1/5): $6.2MM
- Tim Beckham, Rays (2008, 1/1): $6.15MM
- Justin Upton, Diamondbacks (2005, 1/1): $6.1MM
- Matt Wieters, Orioles (2007, 1/5): $6MM
- Eric Hosmer, Royals (2008, 1/3): $6MM
- Joe Borchard, White Sox (2000, 1/12): $5.3MM