Below is our list of the 23 largest contracts in MLB history by average annual value (AAV). Please note that if a player was already under contract and signed an extension, only the new money counts. For our list of the largest contracts in total dollars, click here.
1. Max Scherzer, Mets: $43,333,333.33. Free agent contract signed November 2021
2. Justin Verlander, Mets: $43,330,000. Free agent contract signed December 2022
3. Aaron Judge, Yankees: $40,000,000. Free agent contract signed December 2022
4. Jacob deGrom, Rangers: $37,000,000. Free agent contract signed December 2022
t-5. Mike Trout, Angels: $36,000,000. Extension signed March 2019
t-5. Gerrit Cole, Yankees: $36,000,000. Free agent contract signed December 2019
7. Carlos Correa, Twins: $35,100,000. Free agent contract signed March 2022
t-8. Stephen Strasburg, Nationals: $35,000,000. Free agent contract signed December 2019
t-8. Anthony Rendon, Angels: $35,000,000. Free agent contract signed December 2019
10. Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks: $34,416,667. Free agent contract signed December 2015
11. Francisco Lindor, Mets: $34.1MM. Extension signed March 2021
12. Trevor Bauer, Dodgers: $34,000,000. Free agent contract signed February 2021
13. Nolan Arenado, Rockies: $33,428,571. Extension signed February 2019
14. Carlos Correa, Twins: $33,333,333.33. Free agent contract signed January 2023
15. Justin Verlander, Astros: $33,000,000. Extension signed March 2019
16. Corey Seager, Rangers: $32,500,000. Free agent contract signed November 2021
17. Rafael Devers, Red Sox: $31,350,000. Extension signed January 2023
t-18. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: $31,000,000. Extension signed March 2014
t-18. David Price, Red Sox: $31,000,000. Free agent contract signed December 2015
t-18. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: $31,000,000. Extension signed November 2018
21. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: $30,714,286. Extension signed January 2014
22. Mookie Betts, Dodgers: $30,416,667. Extension signed July 2020
23. Jose Altuve, Astros: $30,200,000. Extension signed March 2018
24. Jacob deGrom, Mets: $30,125,000. Extension signed March 2019
t-25. Manny Machado, Padres: $30,000,000. Free agent contract signed February 2019
t-25. Max Scherzer, Nationals: $30,000,000. Free agent contract signed January 2015
Stephen Strasburg got overpaid…
Disagree. He was a huge part of their first WS title. He deserved it. It’s unfortunate that he’s injured.
you dont give out contracts based only on past performance and not future
Darkside I would usually agree with that except it was the team he’s been playing for (that makes some difference to me) and the whole first ever WS for the Nats.
Correct, AND they also knew they were likely going to lose Rendon as well.
They were almost FORCED to resign Strasburg after losing Harper, and likely losing Rendon. Their fan base would have likely burned down their stadium if they let Strasburg walk as well!!!
Not seriously, but they would have raised immortal you know what, and especially coming off a WS where Strasburg carried that team on his back. The Nationals really didn’t have much of a choice…
Can you predict the future?
as much as i agree with u, i still think it was a mistake for Nationals to sign Stratsburg( from competitive view) They had two very good pitchers without Stratsburg while they didn;t have a replacement for Rendon
This list is kind of bogus in a way. Thanks to all his opt-outs Trevor Bauer should really be at the top. There is no way Bauer stays for the third year of that contract at $17 million. He has basically said he looks at it as a 2-year deal. The way the Bauer contract will eventually unfold it’s going to be a 2-year $85 million deal. That’s an AAV of $42.5 million a year. That puts Bauer’s actual AAV at least $6.5 million above anybody on this list, including both Garret Cole and Mike Trout.
Exactly. List is completely inaccurate. AAV cannot include option years whether they are Club options or Player Options or Mutual options. b
Bogus list by including Player option years (which is exactly what Bauer’s annual opt-outs are).
Oh, he’ll stay for the 3rd year if either –
* His 2nd year (or both years?) for the Dodgers are below average or disastrous
* He gets injured and needs TJS or some other reconstructive surgery and wants to get paid a cool $17M just to rehab.
Worst case scenarios, but the argument against Bauer duplicating a Cy-like performance is, aside from the playoffs, he pitched against subpar competition.
Bauer could theoretically stay for the 3rd year at $17 million if he’s hurt or terrible but that actually just makes his contract better. That 3rd year should be look at as a player option and not influence the AAV of the first 2 years. It’s basically a 2-year $85 million contract with a $17 million safety net in case his arm basically falls off in the first 2 years. The $17 million option is good for him and bad for the Dodgers because it is all up to Bauer whether he accept it. The fact that Bauer has said he sees this as a 2-year deal alone makes it obvious he will get paid $85 million for 2 years and then opt out.
Bauer could theoretically stay for the 3rd year at $17 million if he’s hurt or terrible but that actually just makes his contract better. That 3rd year should be look at as a player option and not influence the AAV of the first 2 years. It’s basically a 2-year $85 million contract with a $17 million safety net in case his arm basically falls off in the first 2 years. The $17 million option is good for him and bad for the Dodgers because it is all up to Bauer whether he accept it. The fact that Bauer has said he sees this as a 2-year deal alone makes it obvious he will get paid $85 million for 2 years and then opt out..
Bauer shouldnt be on there because he wont get paid. Hes on admin leave.
“You can’t predict baseball Suzyn.” – John Sterling
He us still getting paid.
if any team will take him
Considering Bauer’s new baggage may not play well with other teams’ marketing, and he just had a year off, which may impact his performance, it would not surprise me if he stayed that third year to get farther away from this past years events before becoming a FA. It’ll be a whole different situation if he competes for the Cy Young, but just good isn’t going to get him past this.
Was he on admin leave when he signed the contract that had a top AAV? Nope. He should be on the list.
Look at how many of these contacts have been bad for their team. Trouts been injury prone since he signed. Strasburg, hurt. Rendon, hurt. Lindor, didn’t perform well. Bauer, went to court lol. Miggy and price etc. teams will wise up once they realize how bad these contracts are for their teams long term outlook. I think only 4 players on this list actually went on to help their team win a World Series. (After their contract extensions)
Umm he will if he’s suspended half the year and then doesn’t impress in whatever market will take him since it sure as hell won’t be LA
@Joe says… “RAWGA CLEMENS IS IN GORG STOINBREBNAH’S BAWX!”
At the time of signing it was the highest AAV of a pitchers contract ever, and it was 7 years. While he was a large part of that team, he was still overpaid. He was coming off a 3.3 ERA season. 2017 he was a really good pitcher, other than that I don’t see a season of his in his 20s that is worth $35m.
If that’s the case then randy arozarena should be getting paid more than 500k but no.
If you don’t know why Randy a isn’t getting paid more than there’s no point in having a conversation with you.
If Cole deserves the annual deal of $36 million a year than Strasburg deserves his deal. They are similar in career stats.
Strasburg 112-59 3.19 WAR 33.3
Cole. 101-55 3.19 WAR 26.0
Um, Cole is 30. Strasburg is 32, and Cole pitched for the Pirates… So there’s that.
Do you really think that Stras will be as or more valuable than Cole during the life of their deals?
So if Mo Rivera pitched for the Pirates, would he be that successful…So there’s that.
Pirates were not horrible with Cole and two years relative.
Strasburg in 6 seasons average 13.8 wins a year. Assuming he retained that level of production, which could be a huge if, that equates to $2.5mm a win. Considering that he is a SP who averages about 25 starts a year and has only broken 200IP a season twice and a sub3.00 era once this seems like a stretch. When he is on he is very good but considering the above I think he is overpaid.
“Overpaid” may be the dumbest term in sports mostly because everyone uses it with such certainty when they really have no idea. Keep throwing it around kiddos, and continue sounding like idiots.
Owners being cheap is the dumbest thing in sports and that isn’t debatable
Calling people “kiddos”… what a bunch of mularkey. And get off my lawn.
no one is overpaid when agents are just swindling dumb GMs
Still can’t believe he got that contract. He was crazy good all of 2019 but he’s pitched a full season like twice
I think part of the reason they gave Strasburg such a massive contract is because of how well it worked out for them last time with Scherzer’s huge deal. Perhaps it made them a little over confident in giving out such a large deal to someone who is a huge injury risk.
i would like to throw this in his contract would be a huge overpay for 29 teams but with wash. i look it at is as backpay for his production when he was on the cheap.
That is a terrible way to run an organization
That’s a bad way to look at it…it’s just a bad contract no matter the team
That’s a good way to never win again.
When had Scherzer shown any injury risk, before that contract?
All new money
No money So old its growing white hair
Strasburg when healthy is dynamic, when healthy he deserves everything they pay him. You could argue that Tatis hasn’t earned the contract he was awarded, but you cant say that about Strasburg
Taros is getting paid based on future potential. Strasburg’s best days are clearly behind him as he enters his age 32 season having had injury concerns. Additionally, Tatis’s contract is very favorable up front as he will make $1mm this year and doesn’t fully impact the Padres for a few years. Not quite the same, not a good comp I think.
I hate to tell you this, but every player gets paid on “future potential”. Even if you’re 35 years old you agree to a contract that pays you for the “future” and the “potential” that you can bring to the team.
Dutch Vander Linde
Because he’s overrated
And Jacob deGrom got underpaid
For Love of the Game
Nothing like Verlander’s extension. $66 mill. for two years. One game pitched and then Tommy John.
They’re all overpaid!
All but 1 of these players is severely overpaid lol
Trout is underpaid just like Lebron was for a decade and others. No one would show up without these guys. There is a great article explaining this in Grantland. Old piece
I guess at the end of the day when you’re chilling in your mansion with a nine-figure bank account there isn’t too much difference between $300mil and $250mil
The difference between $250 and $300MM could influence the size of island you buy.
Welcome to why opt outs are now a thing
Contracts are just dk measuring contests
How is Trout underpaid?? He’s devoid of personality and hides on a rarely watched west coast team. How many titles has he helped bring to the Angels? Ooh he brings fans to the park, how many more would come out if that team was actually good? Trout is an accomplice to what amounts to stealing from Angel’s fans.
If he were on the Yanks/Mets/Phils/Dodgers/Red Sox he would be the exact opposite of what you say.
Franchise you will never see on this list? White Sox. They still haven’t signed anyone to a contract worth more than $100 million over duration of the deal.
That will be changing quickly with the young squad they have!
nothing is worse than Chris Davis $23,000,000
CONTRACT:7 yr(s) / $161,000,000
That one big Ryan Howard contract wasn’t all that great either.
It was made worse by his torn achilles. At the time it was a good deal. How did they know he would suffer a career shortening injury?
You don’t know a guy is getting a career shortening injury but that’s why you don’t give guys long term contracts.
yea sorry but you can’t argue in favor of the Stras contract but not the Howard. They were both a result of flying high on emotions and recent success and fan favorites and big spenders/markets…not so much on prudent baseball decisions
Orioles still owe Davis 74 million (42 million deferred). He’s owed 17 mil this year and the rest of their salary outside of arb players is roughly 14 mil.
Instead of giving away bundy and gausman- orioles could have kept them. Would have made more sense than any other move they have made in past several years.
Os give reds pirates and Miami a good run at second worse ran team in baseball. Rockies are clearly the worst and it’s not even close
Crazy that Clemons made the list considering the average contract sizes in ’07!
He was 45 too when he signed. It was prorated to $18.7M as he didn’t play a full season and the Yankees had to pay an additional $7M+ in luxury tax penalties. That crazy Ol’ George!
Surprisingly Stanton is NOT on the list.
Maybe I’m just too rooted in the NL to understand paying THAT kind of money for a DH
But it was Miami that paid it to begin with!
And that’s why at the time even though 90% of the people much like the Arenado trade said Yankees were fleecing the Marlins when in fact it was the marlins who won the trade and would have won the trade had they not got back any players. Any team that gets rid of 200 mil of payroll commitment wins the trade regardless of return.
That Cabrera deal is still biting the Tigers in the ass
I was JUST gonna say that!! It’d be fun to see an article like this but something like “the top 20 worst overpays”
That would be awesome the problem is it would subjective. This list is factual. No one can argue it.
For all the talk of Harper being overpaid, I love how his name is absent from this list.
at the time when him and manny signed you could argue that they were overpays but i bet you when it’s all said in done they will be the avg to low end for a player of there caliber. i remember when people were screaming that matt holiday was an overpay and 1/2 way through it was an underpay
He took a longer term contract at the expense of lower AAV to squeeze out the last $30 million or so. He probably could have signed a contract closer to Manny Machado’s.
Being overpaid is not just looking at AAV. What if Harper said, okay pay me $400mm but you can spread it over 20 years. Is that a bargain contract even though it’s only $20mm AAV? It’s silly to just look at AAV. Term and AAV need to be considered, to arrive at total dollars committed.
i was going on trends on how players get paid 10+ years ago when matt reuped with the birds at the time when he put ink on paper the deal was a “stupid overpay” (at the time i thought it was a bad move and i’m still eating crow over that deal). if trends keep going like they are and no real cap is going to be in place manny and harpers deals might end up looking like value deals. whitey said best sign them now or pay them more in the end
The Phillies got an excellent deal with Harper. Even in its last, lingering tears it will look like a good deal.
Interesting list. Top tier players, Some delivered at a high level, others not so much. Tim, if I’l not mistaken, Clemens signed after the season began and was paid a prorated amount of the $28M
That is true, so it does kind of deserve an asterisk.
It is astounding that Clemens was paid that much so early on, comparatively, and even with the ever-increasing contract totals, he’s still on this list nearly fifteen years later! 2007 – wow, for perspective Trout (and probably several others on this list) were still in high school…
Are Club option years included in AAV? I wouldn’t think so because they are not gaurantees. Why then would we include Player option years (annual opt-outs)? It would make no sense to correctly exclude Club options – but then to do the opposite with in Player options and put them in.
Doing so misrepresents the player’s true earnings – and the earnings potential for years being included. Guaranteed years are the only years that belong in AAV. – no Club or Player option years.
Love the site and resources as always, just my 2 cents.
thats it fort pitt
How about a list of top position and pitcher aav for each team? The payroll disparities would be fascinating and depressing.
I’d much rather pay Mike Trout 36 million per year than Gerrit Cole. Not saying it was an awful deal for NY, but it’s pretty clear they drastically overpaid and the Angels probably underpaid by a little. Trout is making 36 million a year, which is a steal in ages 28-34, the first half of the deal. But at age 35 and 36, it’s likely going to be uncomfortable. For ages 37-38, you just have to hope Trout can stay on the field. But for Cole, that deal just isn’t going to age well.
I couldn’t believe the Yankees gave Cole the money they did, but they seemingly had their minds made up that they were going to get him no matter what. And yes, I would much rather have Trout on his deal than Cole on his.
You said it yourself that Trout is underpaid as he was never a free agent and Cole wanted top dollars. Those are two different circumstances. Would you feel differently if Trout was earning $42M/yr.?
Bauer, Kershaw, Betts, & Price.
Dodgers are well represented at the top.
as much as i hate kershaw (my hate for him is that he doesn’t pitch for my redbirds lol) name a pitcher that has been better than him in 10+ years. dude is a stud and deserves every penny he gets.
One of those Kershaw contracts he opted out from. They should be looked at as one. Price’s contract is being partially paid by the Red Sox and expires in 2022. Kershaw’s after 2021. Bauer’s is an extremely short term deal with most likely only $85mm in total. Betts is really the only mega Dodger contract and he’s probably one of the most deserving out of all of the ones listed here.
As a fan, I don’t like the idea of dodgers signing players to 12 year contracts.
Betts and Corey Seager are 2, I can live with.
I Beg To Differ
Padres locking in Tatis Jr at 24 mill a year at 21 looks like a bargain now.
AAV is only going to go up in the next 10 years. Someone’s going to break 40 million within the next 5 years.
Listing AAV on Tatis’s contract is probably the most hilarious way to talk about that deal
To me AAV matters more than total dollar numbers. It’s why I don’t consider guys like Harper and Tatis overpaid. I think they can easily put up 8-9 years worth their AAV. The final years may look ugly, but at that point the contracts will have already paid for themselves.
tatis has played basically one season having played 600 pa’s.
I’d disagree that AAV is necessarily more important. Maybe for smaller market teams because they won’t ever be able to pay a high AAV contract. But for bigger market teams it’s an absolute way to de-risk the risk of giving out a large fat $300mm plus type of contracts. Would you rather give Bauer a 2 year $85 million or something like 8+ years and $240+ million? Unless the player is more of a sure thing like a Betts I’d be hesitant to give out such long-term contracts. Player of course has to agree to it and most players are risk averse too, preferring term over AAV. But if you can find the player that is willing to go higher AAV at the expense of term it can be a valuable tool.
That assumes that Tatis plays that long and performs at that level for a while. Sure, there may be a good reason to believe that but baseball can be unpredictable. Many players that jumped out of the gates but faded badly over the years and/or had injury issues de-rail them. The term risk is high, even with a Tatis. Also, as others have pointed out, in the early years he may be glowing to get paid much higher than without a contract, but what happens in the middle years when he’s “grossly underpaid” in relative comparison. That is a potential land mine.
Tatis got a 10 year free agent contract 4 years before he was a free agent, and before he took 600 ABs. That’s why he’s overpaid
Not a Cub on the list. Cheapskates!
I’m really interested in some of the older contracts, Miggy for instance, and what they are valued at currently based on inflation alone.
You can use a simple inflation calculator and also factor in any deferrals with or without interest.
Silly question maybe, but what can you buy with 325 million that you cant you buy with 275 million?
$50 million worth of stuff.
The same question could be asked of owners, but add another zero.
lol this article kind of indirectly trolls Trevor Bauer. Or maybe it was intentional? : )
It’s based on indisputable facts. How does it troll Bauer whom the Dodgers had voluntarily issued him a contract?
Some people just want to play victim
It doesn’t really do a good job of it since the numbers in the article are not accurate. If Club options are not included in AAV (because they are not guaranteed years) then annual Player options (ie Opt outs every year) cannot be either.
It makes no sense to calculate it the way the Dierkes does. Bauer’s AAV could be reported as either 38M or 40M (depending on whether you include the 2M opt-out option). Reporting it by including option years is just plain inaccurate.
No it’s not. You keep claiming this but you’re wrong.
Until Bauer opts out after year 1 or year 2, he has a 3 year contract. If he gets TJS mid year of year 2, he isn’t opting out. Stop pretending you can predict the future, then complain that others don’t use your crystal ball
I just don’t understand why a player would sign for 330 million over 13 years if he can get 300 million over ten years. The extra 3 years are only for 10 million each. Should have been 390 million over 13 years. But I remember Greg Maddux turning down a One year 16 million contract for a two year 16 million contract.
Bc $330 is more than $300. Players want to play for as long as they can. Teams agree to add the extra years to lower Average Annual Value for payroll purposes. Baseball, unlike other sports, doesn’t really negotiate for buyouts for multiple years of a contract so players know they will still have a job when it’s obvious they should be retired.
2. You take the most money when you are offered it. No guarantee someone wants to give Machado another 30M when his deal is done
3. See #1
Thanks for sharing.
garret cole salary 36 million entire pirates payroll just over 40 million something wrong here
Is this whole “keep moving certain articles to the top of the feed” going to be happening more and more? Not a fan of it
Everyone arguing on who deserves the contract and who is overpaid. These guys wave a bat and throw a tiny ball around. Everyone is way overpaid and no one deserves this type of money per year.
It’s supply and demand. You may throw a tiny ball and wave a bat, these players are throwing in the high 90’s, and the others are somehow capable of hitting those pitches. Such a small percentage of people can do that, that’s why they are paid what they are. It’s 100% deserved, market says so.
But I guess to you, Brady just throws a football, LeBron just dribbles a ball, and Chase Elliot just drives a car.
The players make the product and I would like them to get their fair share of the pie, so that it doesn’t all go to the owners and league officials.
The craziest thing here is Clemons making 28 million in 2007, it’s 10-15 years earlier then everyone else on the list, crazy. Is 28 million 14 years ago more then 36 million today?
Oh my god!!! Notice how Bryce Harper isn’t in the top 20, He is not overpaid, each war is worth 7 million and he was worth 4.5 war in 2019 meaning he was worth more than 30 million! Leave that man alone he is a top 30 player in the game and is paid accordingly Bryce Harper is not overrated.
What’s curious is how he held out that offseason for a team just to top the current-record AAV…. then it was broken right after, which typically happens. Either way, I don’t think one can say he’s overpaid.
Overrated depends on circumstances. When he’s spoken of in the same tier as Trout, yes, he is. But, overrated, underrated, and other ambiguous terms are difficult to validate as truth in and of themselves, and without further context.
Also, not a grammar guy, but God gets me.
The only team in MLB to have two three-hundred-million dollar players on their payroll…..
Hopefully he stays healthy and the Padres can look back at this as an incredibly wise investment. Did I also read he owes $30M to investors already?
Angels Redon + Trout Contract is more I think, although Redon is only on a 245 million deal. As for Harper, Trout has an AAV of 12 more million compared to Harper, so I would say that isn’t quite a fair comparison for how much those players are getting paid. He is not mike trout but has the highest ceiling in the MLB so look out for Harper on a good year
How is this sports/baseball news? This is the left elite looking out for the one’s they like. I was at spring training and SAW Pete Rose handing a large wad of cash to a HUGH Italian guy, nobody blinked an eye – then a story broke about the gay umpire he tried to beat up during his playing days, end of Pete Rose. STOP pumping guys that could barely carry Mickey Mantle’s bat because they are your guys. NONE of these baseball players should be making more than $200K in our new socialist society.
Stanton is 5x stronger than Mantle, not a better player, but sure could swing his bat keep in mind inflation exists, buddy.
OH, look, “comments closed” on the Seattle story: HOW DARE HIM TELL THE TRUTH, welcome to socialism.
I’m pretty sure the close comments on those sorts of things to avoid controversial conversations going on in the comments.
Where’s A-roid ?
Yes what Kevin Maher said may have been true. But much of what he said was offensive and/or inappropriate. His job as one of the main representatives of the Mariners brand was basically to market the company. If there were a ten commandments for his job, near the top would be “Thou shall not make comments that can be offensive, demeaning, or inappropriate”. Do you not get that?
He failed to uphold to the standards of his position and therefore lost his job. That’s capitalism. Someone can do a better job than him so he’s gone. On to the better means of production. Bad socialism would be if you get to keep your job regardless of your performance.
It’s also pretty ignorant to decry “socialism” and not understand what it is – and that some socialism is good (ie public roads, police/law enforcement, courts, etc) while other parts are bad (ie seniority based employment instead of performance based employment).
Pretty sure he means the political socialism that has resulted in tens of millions of deaths throughout history, and it’s related fundamental ideologies.
Nonetheless, baseball is why we are here, so let’s talk about baseball. Tatis Jr. isn’t Mantle, of course. This is the inherent problem with media making every player with potential out to be the next generational player. Tatis Jr. does have incredible potential, but he is a one-year player. All-time great he is not.
So the two major league teams who reward cheaters are the yankees and the Astros. Not surprising that foreign substance man with team garbage can landed the whopper.
Yeah, nice cherry picking…. great unsubstantiated statement. Astros… yep, Yankees? Where more than any other team? Go
Ah. Good times, February. Angry old man. Yup.
Wow, the Angels pay a lot to not make the playoffs….
When your name appears twice on this list, you know you did good
A year old thread resurfaces, thanks to Correa.
1968. YAZ. $100,000. I don’t think he was the first one though.
Koufax and Drysdale were. 1966. They held out of Spring Training. First ever holdout. No free agency so they had to threaten to quit baseball. They were asking for a 3 year, $1MM contract that they would split down the middle. So, $167K a year for each of them for 3 years. Drysdale had a starring role in a tv show lined up. They were really ready to quit baseball over it! Luckily the Dodgers ended up offering enough to convince them to stay. Koufax ended up getting $120K and Drysdale $105K.
Worth a Google. Fascinating stuff.
DeGrom Texas Ranger
Childish and greedy
For all the talk of the Phillies and stupid money, their “mega” aren’t high AAV and have worked out so far. Their issue as always is development.
We’ll be seeing Judge on that list soon as well. Can’t really blame players for the high numbers. Owners and teams pay it. Arod started all these astronomical numbers so blame him and Boras. Just another reason to hate Arod lol!! I mean is any player worth 35,000,000 a year for what they do on the field?? Come on now
Who were the Angels bidding against on the Rendon contract?
I remember 1989 when Kirby Puckett signed a three-year $9 million contract and was the highest paid player for, like, a week.
Poor Max Scherzer, only appearing twice on the list.