Here’s our list of the largest contract each of the 30 MLB teams has ever signed. Each contract is linked to its MLBTR post, with the exception of those that predate the site’s existence. The amounts denote the amount of new money guaranteed to the player, which is why they might differ from what you’ve seen in public reports.
- Angels: Mike Trout – 10 years, $360MM. Signed 3-21-19.
- Astros: Jose Altuve – 5 years, $151MM. Signed 3-20-18.
- Athletics: Eric Chavez – 6 years, $66MM. Signed 3-18-04.
- Blue Jays: George Springer – 6 years, $150MM. Signed 1-19-21.
- Braves: Austin Riley – 10 years, $212MM. Signed 8-1-22.
- Brewers: Christian Yelich – 7 years, $188.5MM. Signed 3-6-2020.
- Cardinals: Paul Goldschmidt – 5 years, $130MM. Signed 3-24-19.
- Cubs: Jason Heyward – 8 years, $184MM. Signed 12-15-15.
- Diamondbacks: Zack Greinke – 6 years, $206.5MM. Signed 12-8-15.
- Dodgers: Mookie Betts – 12 years, $365MM. Signed 7-22-20.
- Giants: Buster Posey – 8 years, $159MM. Signed 3-29-13.
- Guardians: Jose Ramirez – 7 years, $129MM. Signed 4-6-22.
- Mariners: Robinson Cano – 10 years, $240MM. Signed 12-12-13.
- Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton – 13 years, $325MM. Signed 11-18-14.
- Mets: Francisco Lindor – 10 years, $341MM. Signed 3-31-21.
- Nationals: Stephen Strasburg – 7 years, $245MM. Signed 12-9-19.
- Orioles: Chris Davis – 7 years, $161MM. Signed 1-21-16.
- Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr. – 14 years, $340MM. Signed 2-22-21.
- Phillies: Bryce Harper – 13 years, $330MM. Signed 2-28-19.
- Pirates: Bryan Reynolds – 7 years, $100MM. Signed 4-26-23.
- Rangers: Corey Seager – 10 years, $325MM. Signed 12-1-21.
- Rays: Wander Franco – 11 years, $182MM. Signed 11-27-21.
- Red Sox: Rafael Devers– 10 years, $313.5MM. Signed 1-4-23.
- Reds: Joey Votto – 10 years, $225MM. Signed 4-2-12.
- Rockies: Nolan Arenado – 7 years, $234MM. Signed 2-26-19.
- Royals: Salvador Perez – 4 years, $82MM. Signed 3-21-21.
- Tigers: Miguel Cabrera – 8 years, $248MM. Signed 3-31-14.
- Twins: Carlos Correa– 6 years, $200MM. Signed 1-10-23.
- White Sox: Andrew Benintendi– 5 years, $75MM. Signed 12-16-22.
- Yankees: Aaron Judge – 9 years, $360MM. Signed 12-7-22.
Pirates a joke
Chipper Jones' illegitimate kid
It’s been 20 years and the fact that Eric Chavez and Jason Kendall are still the biggest contracts in both teams’ history is beyond a joke. It has to be addressed in the new CBA
The Baseball Fan
They have the freedom to spend how they want… I don’t see the problem.
Chipper Jones' illegitimate kid
The problem is teams get to continue to exist being protected under the banner of Major League Baseball despite the product they put on the field (mainly calling out the Pirates). Meaning ownership pockets cash with no urgency to improve the team unlike other non-sports markets where if your product sucks your business goes under.
The Baseball Fan
That makes more sense, so yes, less involvement by the MLB would work better for the competition of the sport. However, teams do have the right to spend freely, so you must have a happy medium.
Chipper Jones' illegitimate kid
Salary floor requirements. Shrink team control. 2 years team control. 2 years arb. Hit free agency after 4 years. Decrease the amount of time teams can keep players on the cheap, force them to spend money to keep them.
Also, punishments for finishing in the bottom 15% of the league multiple years in a row. Fines. Not draft picks as that defeats the purpose. If they have to spend the money either way, might as well do it on players.
The Baseball Fan
Free agency after 4 years? Then you get Guys like Soto hitting the Market at a very young age. That would also put pressure on teams to spend though, with bigger extensions happening. It would be an interesting thought
The problem is a franchise like the Pirates, running a $50M payroll, while getting subsidized by MLB Central Fund ( revenue sharing) to the tune of $30M to $40M per year. With a 2.4M metro market, a gorgeous ballpark, and a city of truly great fans, this team has been run on the cheap for far too long.
Maybe a mandate to spend a minimum amount of $85M to $100M would force a team like the Pirates to spend on player salaries and improve the level of play. Their fans deserve so much better.
Penalize teams for losing, reward teams for winning. If MLB keeps doing the opposite there’s not j cent I’ve for these teams to win or spend.
Wow, that was brutal “ not j cent I’ve”
Should read, “There’s no incentive “
Free agency after 4 years is ludacris, no team would be able to constantly stay competitive .
Things seem to work out better in other sports because there appears to be more transparency with the books. The MLBPA doesn’t trust the league and if you want a floor there has to be a ceiling.
What about making contracts yearly like Charlie O wanted 59 years ago? What about mandatory team options with player options? What does the league get out of your suggestions?
What’s forgotten is there are no minor leagues systems in most other major sports. Baseball players take time to develop. Such costs money. Glad teams are finding places for those in the minors to live. The truth is baseball represents America. High risk can become high rewards.
yeah…. FA after 4 years would do nothing but make the sport less balanced .
Instead of teams like the Pirates/Rays/A’s getting 4-5+ years out of their guys they’re going to be turning the team over every 2-3 years. The large market teams can swallow up more talent and you’d have to send draft bonuses south because you aren’t going to pay the same for 4 years of projected production.
@Tcsbaseball: “Free agency after 4 years is ludacris, no team would be able to constantly stay competitive .”
I disagree and think free agency after seven years is way more ridiculous and hurts players. Kyler Murray is one who chose football because he could make a lot of money right out of the gate instead of waiting four years just to get an Arbitration salary.
And sorry, but I have no sympathy for teams not being able to ‘stay competitive’. Even if they want to cry poor, a team like the Rays (and to a similar extent, the A’s) manages to be competitive. There’s no excuse for garbage franchises like the Pirates and Marlins.
The Pirates problem isn’t that they refuse to ink mega deals, which are mostly ill advised, but rather their lack of spending in general. Avoiding big contracts is a good strategy. Avoiding spending at all, not so much.
Kyler Murray would’ve chosen football anyway.
You have these guys play minor league baseball for multiple years before coming up. They’re not making any money doing that. A Kyler Murray is never going to choose baseball unless he loves the game of baseball more than football. Monetarily it’s not going to make sense for him…
There’s development time in baseball and that’s why your shortened control period would kill small market teams. Or you’re going to hold a guy down until you’re certain he’s going to make a big impact on your team—since you only have him for 4 years. There’s no way Kelenic is playing for the M’s last year. I doubt wander Franco is even up for the Rays.
Absolutely. The Pirates would be better off signing 5 or 6 guys to contracts with AAV’s of $8-10 mil per year than if they signed one freaking guy to $30 mil per year and all the rest making major league minimum. Baseball is a team sport. You need a bunch of good players to win. Ask Mike Trout.
They don’t. They don’t have the revenue to spend like other teams. I don’t know why fans continue to think that the Pirates and A’s have the same revenue streams as the Dodgers and Yankees. Yes the Pirates could spend more and still make a profit, but we’re talking a few tens of millions. A $30m a year contract would destroy that franchise.
And before you talk about how right the Pirates’ owner is, I don’t care. It’s irrelevant. Baseball franchises are entirely separate businesses from the other wealth-makers in their owners’ portfolios. They don’t subsidize.
For every Kyler Murray there are 5 Jeff Samardzija’s who would make maybe $3 million in the NFL and made 10+ times that in the MLB. Oh, and they can walk when they hit 50.
Dodgers and Yankees would love that. They’d basically get to cherry pick the best young players in the sport every year.
Kyler Murray is a QB.
No QB going at the top of the draft is going to pick baseball for monetary reasons.
Shark was something like a projected 3rd round pick at WR. That’s not even close to what I’m talking about.
Qb’s are the highest paid position. You don’t have to ride the bus to Binghamton NY and Norfolk VA.
You’re a pro from day 1. Immediate exposure and advertising deals. Qbs play the highest compensated position and they’re very protected by the rules. Any top of the draft Qb who picked baseball would have to love it or be an absolutely generational baseball talent that doesn’t need any minor league seasoning.
Highly unlikely outcome. 2 sport athletes typically aren’t refined enough to step into the bigs immediately. A guy like Kyler Murray doesn’t choose the MLB. There’s nothing baseball can do about that. Just the way it is.
You’re doing a 1 in 100 NFL/MLB example and using it as an end-all-be-all argument. John Elway did the same thing. I’m talking about the 999 others.
Both would have chosen football regardless because they knew they’d do well, and play the ultimate paying position. They got endorsement deals the second their pen hit the contracts.
Makes me think of another two-sport star… Bo Jackson should have quit playing football after he got his endorsement deals. He would have had another 8 years in MLB raking in millions. Instead, both careers (and his endorsement deals) were ruined because of his Sunday hobby.
I was replying to the guy who literally brought up Kyler Murray.
But his story would apply for any top QB who is also a baseball prospect. You don’t see that very often—especially now since kids tend to focus on 1 sport and drop the other. Obviously the chances you are going to be a top baseball and QB prospect are extremely small. I’m saying if you are—it’s pretty clear where you’re gonna go
And I don’t disagree w/ anything you said. If you’re playing any other position but QB— you have a very tough decision to make.
That’s the point
Of the 10 teams that made the playoffs in 2021, 8 had made it in 2020, 7 in 2019 and 6 in 2018
The only way you could do 4 years then FA would be to make RFA a think and give the team losing said player the right to match any offer
Another idea is to tax the revenue sharing amount. Part of the clubs’ job is to get their fans watching their games. Tax based on Ballpark attendance.
Bottom 5 in attendance get a 20% decrease in their revenue sharing, next 5 clubs 10% and so on. They’ll either spend more to put a better product on the field or lower ticket prices to get butts in the seats. Fans win either way.
There’s no incentive to win?? How about playoff revenue, more fans at the reg season games, more merch sold etc. No team wants to lose indefinitely, stupid solution that just piles on to the small market teams.
Spending money is not cherry picking. They reinvest. You have to spend money to make money.. instead of putting it into the bank. they finishing last and crying out poor me…Where is my revenue sharing? Sounds like your a Pirates fan. They get the first pick then let em walk or trade em away in s few years and then it starts all over.
@ the baseball fan
If my team only gets the player for 4 years, you can be damn sure they won’t be getting the call up at age 20-22, since stats show peak is around 26-28. No way is my top draft pick going FA before their prime years. Keep him in the minors longer, and maybe he will strike out less as a rookie at age 24.
Ludacris plays professional baseball?
A minimum makes sense. Especially if they’re being subsidized, the subsidy should go to payroll, along with a minimum percentage of revenue—or maybe an amount at least matching the subsidy.
Chip. Both the Players Union and the Owners oppose the salary floor, so that is out.
Clip. They had that in the past and the Yankees won all the time. The Yankees had the most money, paid the biggest signing bonuses and got the best prospects. 20 of their 26 World Championships happened at that time. The Owners put in the player draft in 1965 after that.
steven st croix
@thebaseballfan is a troll. The owner take the revenue sharing $$ and pocket it. There should be a salary cap floor of $120 million.
@ no need to quote my comment. I know what I said.
100 million minimum or you need to sell the team
I’m not disagreeing, but then you will become the NBA where guys are making extreme money because they have to sign a certain amount. Like your 4th outfielder making 10 a year. I think it will give less opportunities for younger guys to play because teams will have to spend that extra money on guys who shouldn’t be out there anymore.
That’s the problem, they have the freedom to spend what they want and what they spent is a joke
What about something like making something like WAR mean something. I know not everyone sees that as meaning anything, but pre arb guys making 700k every 1 point of War they produce the owner’s have to add 1 million on at the end of the year.
NBA has a good design. They set a salary floor and if it’s not meant the difference between the floor and salary is divided between the players.
Only works if there is a salary cap and floor.
Win a World Series once ever or leave the league..Padres spend a ton and still are bad
I’m old school, free agency has ruined the game. It is not equitable.
3 main people destroyed game, Curt Flood, Marvin Miller and Scott Borad
As it should be. Unless you’re a fan of paying Bogaerts until he’s 41
They already do. And I think we can add the Mets to that devil’s three way now.
You must be looking at old numbers. Teams are getting 50 million in revenue sharing now, and another 50 million from the MLB tv deals. Any team spending less than 100 million isn’t trying.
Teams are getting $50 mill from revenue sharing and $50 mill from mlb tv money. Teams spending less than $100 mill aren’t trying.
A’s and pirates are given $100 million every year before they even start. The fact they can’t spend close to that shows they don’t care.
This shortening team control thing just is never going to work. MLB would never go for it. Teams have 6-7 years of control because it take a lot of time and money to bring a player through the system and they want something back for there investment, which is understandable.
A salary floor isn’t happening without a cap and MLBPA would never go for that They have publicly said this and stood fast by it in every negotiation (even if mlb did slip a cap in through the back door).
They need to find more ways to funnel money to the pockets of the younger players under team control. They also need to find more ways to incentivize winning. With all the revenue streams a baseball team have spending money on winning just isn’t that much of a priority anymore, nor is it always profitable.
I would start by taking revenue sharing away from any team spending below say, 60%-70% of the average mlb payroll (for example). Or the exact same penalties that teams over the tax pay. More of the problems would need to be sorted out by ppl with way more mental bandwidth than I, but I’m absolutely sure you’ll never see a floor and a hard cap, I don’t think you’ll see team control be decreased.
Not practical really, but I love how the English Premier League relegates the bottom three teams each year. That would change tanking, cheap payrolls.
Buuba ho tep
I agree with you Arnold…when free agency destroyed baseball in 1972 with curt flood
Baseball needs to relegate teams to a lower league for poor performance like happens in soccer. Demote to AAA, bring a AAA team to the MLB level.
Want a competitive league? Pool revenues and give each team the same amount to spend on payroll. No team can spend more, no team can spend less. Money left over at the end of the season is divided between owners and players according to a formula.
Current system rewards large market teams. Several years ago, the Pirates, everyone’s favorite whipping boy, decided that they would spend more money on the draft. That is how they convinced Josh Bell, who had informed all teams that he was going to college, to sign as a second round choice. I believe it was a record signing bonus for the second round. The league banned the practice and went to slot money to make the system “fair”.
Fever Pitch Guy
Chip – That is why something should be done about revenue sharing.
Look at the Rays, if they were a standalone business they’d be forced to move or sell. But as long as they continue to receive revenue sharing, they will stay above water.
Why don’t high revenue division rivals like the Sox and Yanks complain about the revenue they are sharing with the Rays not being used to better the team? Because they want to continue competing against a micro-budget team. It’s a vicious circle.
@Chipper Jones’ illegitimate kid And what is the MLBPA giving in exchange for all of that?
Pretty sure this is what the Pre-Arb bonus pool is designed to do. But expanding it even more to what you are saying makes sense in the future.
The NBA commissioner tried to suggest a version of the FA cup to promote the minor leagues and the owners/sports media freaked out. Relegation is an awesome system but they’d never accept. On the other hand, the richest teams don’t win every single year so NBA still has one up on the premier league.
Never happen. Relegation is simply not in the DNA of US sports. Completely unworkable.
Murray has less of a chance of eating out of a straw with baseball v football.
So let’s get this straight. Players choosing the NFL because they can make way more money is a big problem but people also want us to go back to a time when baseball players made peanuts.
Oh sure, municipalities will just build $500M stadiums on the off chance their AAA team wins a championship.
pirates will win a world series before Norwich wins the prem. maybe we should let the dodgers pay a transfer fee for Bryan Reynolds and wander Franco too
How about raising the league minimum to $5,000,000 a year too.
How about raising the league minimum to 5 million a year too
The players don’t care how much the pirates or A’s spend, not when larger market teams are spending like drunken sailors.
Besides, players have to WANT to play some place to sign. Do you really think any player actually wants to sign a contract to play in Oakland? All the negatives about California and none of the advantages… pay the ridiculously high tax rate while playing in San Francisco toilet bowl…
I really think the reason the A’s typically do well is because their prospects know if they play well, they will get traded within 5 years… if they play really well they can get traded in 3. It’s the best incentive program in baseball.
Goku the All Knowing
ya too big of a country , no shared stadiums.
doesn’t work out as easily as smaller EU countries
I’m fine with pirates stinking as long as they contend like once every 10 years.
we missed a generation with McClatchy because his draft strategy was awful.
but even a bozo like Huntington was able to make some post season appearances with his top picks.
I expect a similarly good team in 2026
They could do 4 years like NBA does with the incumbent team able to offer more money to players up for 1st time FA. That makes teams pay more to field good players & gives smaller market teams a built in advantage to keep home grown players by being able to offer mire money than the Yankees could
I’m not saying the can spend 230 mil per year but if you can’t spend like 120m per year either sell the team or relocate.
Also another option would be a contraction of the league to 28 teams.
Media talk about expansion all the time but you already have 4 teams who never spend any money (pirates, marlins, rays, As) so either those markets can’t support a franchise (then you need to contract the league or move some of those teams to other locations) or they don’t want to spend.
You do have to keep in mind that teams won’t invest in prospects at all if many prospects are reaching free agency before they ever do anything productive. Go too short and you severely damage the pipeline.
I think a restricted free agency system after 2 or 3 years (until 6-7 years) would strike a happy medium of letting prospects receive reasonable money while also protecting the drafting team from losing prospects before they ever reach the majors.
Even with Reynolds new contract, they are not paying $30 million AAV to anyone. There will be several more guys they will be looking to extend. Guys like Cruz, Keller Contreras, Oviedo,, Rodriguez, and Davis just to name a few.
Sorry, had to say this… ludicrous is an adjective meaning, so absurd or incongruous as to be laughable. Ludacris is an American rapper and actor.
I would love to see relegation. Lets start with the worst record in MLB being replaced by the winner of the AAA World Series…
It’s a nice idea in theory, but the players on that AAA franchise belong to another MLB franchise and a lot of them are owned by their MLB franchise. So that couldn’t work in any way whatsoever.
@Moonlight, u r absolutely right any subsidies should go to payroll. Also any team should have to hit a salary floor to get any subsidy to begin with. This would prevent a mandatory floor, but incentive it to the point that any team not taking advantage of it would b fools.
How much money should ownership put into their pockets each year? What do you think is a fair number? Personally, I think the amount they pay their highest paid player is a good start.
NFL is 3 years as well as basketball I believe. MLB has 13 year veterans in the minors making their premier? That’s BS.
Yeah, don’t stop until tickets require a mortgage. If you haven’t given a guy like Chris Davis a couple hundred million you’re a joke.
It’s utterly bizarre how people think this is sustainable. These insane contracts will come out of the (rapidly aging) fanbases pockets. Meanwhile, the RSN golden goose is dead. But yeah, rich owners bad.
@Dugment, I wouldn’t care if they got to put 0 in their pockets annually. The equity the build in the value of the franchises is enough in and of itself.
@Superunclea very few make their premier after 13 years, that is an extreme and not the normal. The reality is the vast majority of Minor League players just are not going to have MLB careers.
Nothing you can really do about teams and AAVs they feel comfortable at. The best you can do is create a salary floor. Youll never be able to force teams to give out long term or short tem high AAV deals.
Chavez’s contract averaged out to 11 mill a year
Kendall’s contract averaged out to 10 mill a year
If teams want to give out multiple contracts with AAVs in the 10-20 range instead of paying 1 guy 30 mill a year there isnt much you can do to force them to spend 30 mill on 1 guy instead of 30 mill on 2 or 3 guys.
All of the small market teams have small contracts for the largest ever, and if they have one for 230 million, it became an Albatros for the team and they aren’t making the playoffs? Is it a joke that the white Sox largest is Yasmani Grandal for 4 years at 74 million signed in 2019? If you ask me by comparison to the As and Pirates joke contracts it also is?
That’s the joke….the White Sox which is in a huge market and Reinsdorf has money. He definitely spent on the Bulls the last off-season.
Also hippyripper, to make it a bigger joke, the state of Illinois subsidizes the White Sox franchise. There is an attendance clause in their contract with the state that lowers their ‘rent’, if they don’t draw fans. Illinois allowed this gift stadium contract to Reinsdorf after he threatened to move the team to Florida. And Florida built a stadium anticipating they could entice them, to move there.
The Bulls have much more revenue (relative to payroll costs). No comparison.
Do you have a link for this? As a white Sox fan the lack of spending makes me unbelievably angry and old man Jerry always says “if fans show up, we’ll pay”. Fans showed up last year and they still aren’t paying
White Sox have 175 million dollar payroll. They’re spending plenty.
According to sporttracs they are pushing 200 million in payroll. Fans are absurd. You add in operating costs and they probably are not making a fortune. Sox problem is they spent stupid
@Cosmo2 In the past 7 years, the only time the Sox payroll was higher than 15th was last year. In 2021, they were 15th. The prior 5 years, they were 20th or lower, with 3 of those years in the bottom 5. They have an inexcusably cheap ownership. The fans in Chicago have even bought a couple of “sell the team, Jerry” billboards, which is both funny and sad.
I mean winning baseball is all about quality, and the Sox won’t sign any high quality players. Hence one championship in the past 100 years.
Raiders also did this in Oakland and a lot of us hated them for it… literally money diverted from schools and other actually important things. Chicago is a sad example of patronage politics.
Not signing quality players is an entirely different argument than not spending money.
@Hippy, just because a team has not doled out a huge mega contract(s) does not mean they do not spend. A perfect example would b the Cardinals. They re on the lower end of this list but frequently carry a fairly high payroll. When you can retain talent on shorter deals year in and year out, risky enormous lengthy contracts are not so much a necessity.
Please, Hammer. Don't hurt 'em.
I have a little more sympathy for the A’s. They aren’t even the 4th most marketable MLB team in their state. Their stadium is also garbage. I imagine it’s at least a little more difficult for them to make money than most teams. They also compete frequently so something they are doing is working.
The Pirates owner is a problem. Pittsburgh is a great sports city. The Steelers and Penguins draw plenty of fans. The Pirates used to back in the Barry Bonds days. If that team actually became competitive they would have plenty of fans. They also have one of the nicest parks in baseball.
The problem is the Pirates owner has realized that as long as he keeps payroll low enough he will always make a profit no matter how the team performs. He just needs to sell that team to someone who is willing to take a bigger risk to see the team win. There is no reason the Pirates couldn’t have an above average payroll. The owner acts like he doesn’t even like baseball. I’m sure he could make the same profit margins doing something else. Just sell the team to someone who is actually a baseball fan. It would be a great purchase for another billionaire who wants to own a baseball team. They have been bad for so long that the price of the team has to be lower than a lot of other teams. I really believe if a new owner actually tried to make that team a contender fans in Pittsburgh would start packing the house again.
“The Pirates have been bad for so long that the price of the team has to be lower than a lot of other teams.” You’re right. The Tigers, Brewers, Guardians, A’s, Reds, Royals, Rays, and Marlins are the only teams valued at less than the Pirates.
Success on the field is stastically weakly related (at best) to ticket sales. And of course TV contracts are locked in years in advance so are unrelated to success on the field as well.
The idea that a low revenue team can just spend its way to higher revenue is a myth. A convenient myth, yeah, cuz it solves a lot of problems in a nice, elegant way, but a myth nonetheless. Just look at the Rays and A’s attendance. Hasn’t budged despite them both being very good lately. The Rockies have one of the best attendance totals in the league.
Google the A’s tv contract value. It isn’t great but it isn’t that bad. The ownership is terrible, we’re just lucky that we have a better front office compared to teams like the Reds or Pirates..
A bigger payroll, sure, above average, not likely in a small market like Pittsburgh.
Baseball is a business. Every team is expected to turn a profit every single year. Only rare exceptions like Steve Cohen are willing to risk taking losses and spend from their personal fortunes on the team payroll.
Bob Nutting paid $97 million for the franchise, that same franchise is now worth $1.3 billion
I highly doubt he’s worried Boston
it’s impossible to explain logic to the ignorant, Lanidrac but I give you credit for trying
@Boston, much of a franchises value does not have to do with contending regularly. Market size, TV market, stadium, per capita income of fans, etc all play a part in the value of a franchise.
I don’t see why you can’t go ahead and become a majority owner and make those decisions.
Yes I think the answer is to approve better owners of these franchises. When the other baseball owners vote these guys in, make sure there is some commitment and passion for baseball and examine these guys closely to determine they aren’t just showboating wannabes who need to own a sports team just because that’s the chic thing to do.
Also maybe put some restraint on too much minority ownership because that can dilute the singular focus needed to crafting a stellar franchise. All comes down to who these owners are as people and their character and commitment to bettering the overall product seems to me.
Possibly more egregious is a Chicago team’s largest contract given being $75M.
What about a team in Chicago’s biggest deal being 5/75, and it was JUST THIS YEAR!!
Never would have thought BN10D was their biggest free agent signing EVER.
yeah it only hurts the sport by owners pocketing and limiting revenue. By spending more and growing the sport, it’ll force more competiton and add more talent. so cheap owners gotta go
Apparently Chipper doesnt read and skims direct to the bottom to post fake facts. Busch league commenter.
As an A’s fan the 04 date on the contract (for a team that’s been in the playoffs a lot since then) was the first thing that jumped out at me. Also the 2010 date on the Twins contract for a team that got a nice new stadium and has no regional competition (e.g. SF Giants).
Zachary D Manprin
You don’t think it’s a joke that neither player delivered the value for those contracts?
Zachary D Manprin
The A’s offered a contract to Semien but he refused to move positions. Thankfully, Semien moved on. What Front Office looks at Semien’s career numbers and say, “yes, let’s invest tens of millions of dollars into a player who more often than not is below league average.”
What bout the white Sox ?there right there to that’s just crazy the A’s produce so much talent then just trade it away they either need to move or new owner
Bryan Reynolds and his 100 million just happened….A’s and Eric Chavez though??? That name is a blast from the past.
Amazing the Pirates won 98 games in 2015. They’ve been garboge ever since. Of course they had Gerrit Cole.
Amazing how ignorant you are to facts, Mousecop
The Bucs started dumping salaries in 2017 and just recently started increasing salaries to their players
Only one organization has shown fiscal responsibility throughout their existence.
Never mind a salary floor. Have a performance floor. Five year record below a certain level, the team is sold to a new owner. Also, have an attendance floor. Five year attendance below a certain level and you are moved to a new location. Salary will take care of itself.
Please, Hammer. Don't hurt 'em.
@whyhazee: I actually like that idea a lot more than giving the higher draft picks to better teams. That just makes the bad teams worse.
5 years may be a little quick but I could see maybe 10 years. If your team’s payroll is really low for 10 years and your team fails to make the playoffs force the owner to put the team on the market. If someone else is willing to pay market price for the team and dedicate more resources to win then the lame owner has to sell it to the guy who will give the fans a better chance.
I really think the Pirates owner just wants to own the team for the lifestyle of being an owner. He wants to be part of that exclusive “billionaire boys club” and thinks it’s cool. He’s not willing to risk anything and doesn’t care if the end result is the Pirates are always terrible. There has to be someone out there willing to pay fair market price for the team who would try harder and be willing to risk more for the chance at a better return and the allure of a championship. The current owner cares nothing about that. He just wants to risk as little as possible while always pulling a profit and still be able to be a famous MLB owner. Winning isn’t necessary to him.
I realize forcing someone to sell something is controversial. Didn’t it happen before though? Didn’t the NBA basically force the Los Angeles Clippers owner to sell because of comments he made? If that’s grounds to make someone sell than an owner spending decades proving how little he cares about the success of his own team on the field should be considered grounds. As long as there is a likely better owner out there willing to pay full market price for the team there is no reason for this guy to keep the team.
Let the fans of terrible teams keep their highest draft picks. Just give them a new owner who actually makes winning a priority. That would fix the problem a lot quicker. Taking away the high draft picks would just be punishing the fans of those bad teams even more. I think that idea is very unfair to those fans who stick it out and root for their team even when they are bad.
Super practical. Move your team every 5 years and change your owner every 5….
No problems running a billion dollar business like a cheap struggling diner!
Please, Hammer. Don't hurt 'em.
I don’t think anyone was saying move the team. I was suggesting 10 years because 5 probably is a little short. Even then it wouldn’t be “every” 10 years. In theory MLB would vet the new owners before they came in to make sure they were going to actually try. If that happens you only need to switch owners once. It would really just be one team (the Pirates) switching owners one time and staying in the exact same location. Just like the Mets did a year ago. It wouldn’t really disrupt anything at all. The Marlins just got a new owner and seem to be headed in the right direction. Cleveland, Tampa Bay, and the A’s all win enough to not have to have a new owner. The whole process would really just involve one team changing hands one time. It’s not that much of a stretch.
If they can fine teams for spending too much with a luxury tax, then they can fine teams for spending too little.
The lack of spending by some teams is a joke.
A’s, Pirates, White Sox, and Royals are not going to compete anytime soon
Curly Is A Dumb Stooge
White Sox and Athletics are more of a joke
White Sox have more ‘splaining to do being in one of the three largest markets in the country.
Can you prove the White Sox are even in the top 1/3rd of revenue in MLB? Do the Cubs compete with them for market share in their own market? Glad you don’t run my business.
sounds like he’d be competing for market share while you accept mediocrity. some mogul you must be
Show me your business plan to compete for market share in Chicago that accounts for the current ownership structure of the Chicago White Sox. And, can you prove that the current chairman of the White Sox has not recently operated the team with a net negative income? I wonder if there is confusion between the misallocation of resources and being cheap. If I don’t like reality, it doesn’t mean it’s still not reality.
Pirates are smart. Don’t mess around with awful contracts. Get younger elite talent. Trade your star for your next star.
4 years service control would kill the mlb. Half the teams would need to trade players after 2 years. No reason to give out million dollar signing bonus, employee staff, invest in facilities. Only a handful of the richest teams would be relevant. Mlb would drop to nhl mls level or lower.
MLB used their antitrust exemption to block Pittsburgh native Mark Cuban from buying the Pirates. The owners want teams like the Pirates to remain in baseball privation in order to keep salaries down.
Ahem, btw I think need to put ”are” between Pirates and a.
Goku the All Knowing
like if you jumped straight to Pirates lol
Turns out the pirates are not at the bottom of the list any more…. White Sox A’s Royals committed to less over the life of contracts..
Its really easy to keep your contract commitments down when you draft and trade well.
Ben goes to the Owners and says, Now is our time. you will see more money going into salaries if they need to fill spots. Same thing happened in the last window. NH handled those funds poorly and made some really horrible trades (archer)
8moronlineup, Pittsburgh is a small market franchise
steven st croix
I forgot about that Strasburg contract.
The Strasburg contract eclipsed the Nationals’ $215M / 7-year contract with Max Scherzer for 2015-2021.
My mouth dropped when they gave Strasburg that deal. I didn’t think he’d get half that. And by half I mean $100 million.
Please, Hammer. Don't hurt 'em.
The craziest thing about the Strasburg contract was he had just exercised an opt out. He was still under contract for $100 million over 4 years right before that. I remember thinking the Nationals probably felt lucky he let them off the hook because they knew he was always injured. Shockingly they made the situation worse by more than doubling that.
If the Nationals truly want to stand a chance at winning a world series anytime soon they need to figure out a way to unload that contract. It would probably have to involve attaching Soto but I think it’s worth it because I’m betting Soto leaves anyway. I really doubt this team has a chance to win it all before he’s gone. I think the Nationals are more likely to finish in last place every year Soto is still under contract than they are to win it all even once over that spen of time.
Offer Soto and Strasburg to the Angels for the last terrible year of Upton’s contract along with Addell, Marsh and several other prospects. Or maybe to the Cubs for Heyward and a bunch of their prospects. Even attaching Bell to the deal and taking on Hosmer from the Padres would make sense. Especially not they can get the Padres to eat Corbin’s contract, too. Any team who has a bad contract that isn’t near as bad as the Strasburg deal would mean the Nationals could get rid of him and still get a bunch of prospects.
Trading both Strasburg and Soto now might actually help the Nationals chance of resigning Soto as a free agent. Just tell Soto before he is traded to make sure he never signs an extension with the new team. By the time Soto hits the market Patrick Corbin’s contract will be up. With Strasburg gone as well the Nationals would easily have the money to sign him again. As it stands now, paying Strasburg that much will really hurt their ability to offer top of the market prices for Soto. It will also hurt the team and make them worse. Getting rid of Strasburg would make the Nationals a better team with more money to spend by the time he hits the free agent market.
Good lord, have you been living under a rock? Upton and Marsh are no longer Angels. Heyward is no longer a Cub. Bell is no longer a National. Hosmer is no longer a Padre. You got one player right out of six. Hard to take your suggestions seriously.
You just responded to a comment from a year ago, dude.
The problem with the Strasburg contract is that it was a World Series tax the Nats paid, and they wanted Strasburg over Rendon due to his dominant playoff performances, despite his injury history. Nobody could’ve predicted Strasburg’s ineptitude since signing the contract, but it was an overpay unless he continued his 2019 regular season performances. In that offseason, it was either Strasburg or Rendon (who both signed the same length/value contract in 7/$245) for the Nats, and I would’ve taken Rendon, despite also being inept.
The A’s at 6/$66 for Chavez as the largest contract in franchise history is an amazing fact.
$11 million AAV. 17 years ago.
Lots of stinkers on that list, though.
And look how the Chavez contract ended up for them: poorly.
Look at most of the contracts on this list – 90% of them are either terrible or too early to tell.
The A’s have done what the rest of the league should have been doing the entire time. Building within a budget.
Imagine if the A’s would’ve given Marcus Semien 4/72 MM last year.
I’d imagine he would’ve accepted and they would’ve had another great asset. Most are bad when you throw out 8+ year mega deals but the A’s could certainly look at higher AAV shorter term deals. Or the smart route and look to lock up their own in house guys at a young age.
Crazy that they haven’t given out anything over 66MM.
Imagine if they gave him a qo.
People will rip on the teams that haven’t given out a big contract for a long time (if at all), but look at the big contracts here – most either didn’t go well at all or they are still relatively fresh.
Big contracts rarely ever go over well.
This is an old tired narrative, get with the times.
How is it an old tired narrative when the article you just read confirms it?!
Especially when it comes to pitchers… for every Max Scherzer you get five David Price’s. Look above – I’d say a minimum 2/3 of those deals don’t pan out. We’re not talking about a couple million but tens of millions. To some teams it can crush their plans for years.
It’s not the big contract. It’s the fact they consistently operate with a total budget barely over what some teams spend on one or two SPs.
They rarely end well, but most of them start very well, and that’s all those teams care about. They’re trying to win now, and they have the revenue to cover for a bad contract toward its later years. The Pirates, A’s, Rays, Guardians, and others don’t.
The Baseball Fan
Surprised that the Indians largest contract ever is only 20 million AAV. This says more about the franchise, as they are the type of team to do well using homegrown stars. I respect that (as much as I dislike the franchise as a Sox fan).
If you’re going to pay someone a hundred million it might as well be a home grown star that you know well and isn’t holding out for top free agency money.
My vote for the worst contract is the Chris Davis contract. Or maybe Robinson Cano. Anyone disagree?
Chipper Jones' illegitimate kid
It’s obviously Chris Davis. Cano was/(is?) a decent hitter even if over paid.
The Baseball Fan
Agreed. It has to be Chris Davis
Davis is worse but that Yelich one isn’t looking too good after 2 years into it….it’s like he forgot how to hit once he got paid.
To make matters worse, Yelich isn’t going into year 3 of his extension– it hasn’t even started yet… the Brewers could be hamstrung for the rest of the decade if he continues like this
I think Davis, Kendall, and Heyward are all worse than Cano but it’s a marginal distinction
The Baseball Fan
Heyward helped get the Cubs a series ring so I guess he did his job
I think you mean the Cubs won the series that year in spite of Heyward. No way you can say the team got value from that first year or any year of that deal.
They could’ve won the WS without Heyward. No excuse for that contract.
Manfred Rob's Earth Band
They could’ve lost too without the pep talk in the locker room. We’ll never know.
Still a terrible contract. The way the entirely hypothetical circumstances worked out doesn’t justify such a bad deal after the fact.
Chris Davis is probably number one but a lot of people are overlooking the Josh Hamilton contract from the Angels. That was a disaster in every sense of the word
The Orioles outbid themselves on that one too. No one else was gonna sign him and they still tacked on another 7 mil. Definitely the worst contract as it really did set them back
I agree Davis is the worst while all the other players had/have some name value and didn’t consistently run sub-zero WAR. The O’s backed themselves into corner when they didn’t release him earlier and didn’t consider the opportunity cost.
Did the Davis deal set the O’s back that far though?
It was a heavily deferred $ deal. He signed that deal after the team decided to pass on bringing guys like Nellie Cruz & Andrew Miller back.
The farm was still going to be depleted and I don’t think the team was going to give Machado 300 million dollars either way. (To say nothing of Machado wanting to accept a LT deal from the O’s.)
I think the Davis contract actually did not hurt the team that badly. He should’ve been cut years prior and his 40 man spot used for someone else but that’s not a gigantic impact when the O’s have been giving out 40 man slots to guys like Stevie Wilkerson and Pat Valiaka over that time.
You could argue the Davis contract led ownership to not sell off in time—-that could be true. But he didn’t kill us. A depleted farm, poor SP development, and a team that was running out of club control hurt the team worse.
Cano? That’s barely even a “bad contract.” He only makes $24m and he was, until just a couple years ago, a very productive hitter and a great fielder. His isn’t even in the top 20.
When it was a game.
And got some decent prospects back.
This makes me depressed. Come on Pirates. If the Rays can dishout a big contract to Wander Franco, you should be able to do the same for Bryan Reynolds. Anyone can if the Rays can.
If he’ll sign for 6 yrs/$72 mil, that’s about right for him. Then he can go get a 7 yr/$200 mil deal after his prime with one of the mega $$$ teams.
Reynolds is looking for 150 to 200 million. He wants guaranteed money until his late 30s. He is already going to get like 40 million the next 3 years. He isn’t giving you 3 more years for 30 some million. 6 years from now he will be 34 years old. He isn’t getting 200 million after his prime. At 34 he is looking at a 1 or 2 year deal.
Reynolds need to be traded asap. Very worst use his best years to make a playoff run or 2 and let him hit free agency at 31 thank you for your service and the comp pick and see you later.
Best bet is sign the next 2 or 3 young players with a good mental makeup to Hayes type deals.
I get that big contracts don’t always work out, but it’s still shocking to me that 5 teams haven’t only not given out a nine figure contract yet, but that they haven’t even approached $100M yet
Who can blame them. And don’t forget that elite free agents have little interest going to cellar dwellers and fly over country.
Mr Judge this is Bob Nutting. Yanks are offering you 360 we will give you 370. Judge would be like don’t call back unless you have a number that starts with a 5.
Your wish has been granted.
I’m really surprised about White Sox. I figured they had dished out at least one $100+ million contract.
Chipper Jones' illegitimate kid
They were close on Machado. Giolito, Moncada, Anderson, and Eloy are coming up. One or two will get a $100mil.
I’ve been a White Sox fan long enough that pessimism has firmly set in. I don’t see any of those guys re-signing with the White Sox. They’ll say all the right things, the Sox will say all the right things, but if JR is still alive, the Sox will make a low-ball offer and then be amazed when the player walks. Closest they actually came to a $100M+ deal was Wheeler. They were the high bidder, but he chose Philly for family reasons. So it’s possible they’ll sign someone to a $100M+ deal, but I’m not holding my breath.
I understand the frustration. There is nothing worse than a bad owner, or even an owner who won’t go the extra mile, and I believe the latter fits Reisendorf. The White Sox are in a win-now moment. JR will consistently pull up short. Rodon? At minimum, offer him a QO. He didn’t because he’s afraid he’d accept. On a more minor level, the White Sox should not have let Jimmy Cordero leave. He has a very interesting arm and is now recovered from TJS. JR was afraid he’s cost them $1.2M. I’ll say it right now. Cordero will be getting important outs for the Yankees at some point in 2022.
JR is incredibly wealthy and is well up there in age. I have no idea why he’s not doubling down to win at this stage.
The Baseball Fan
The Sox are more keen on extensions and trades rather than big FA signings. Rick Hahn is a genius and I trust what he’s doing, even though people like Jerry Reinsdorf and Kenny Williams have a negative impact on the team.
Lol, next time you and Hahn are on the phone, tell him thanks for Madrigal. And the Sox being ‘keen on extensions’ (whatever that means). Lol, how’s that working out? Giolito will be waving goodbye to you, soon. Same as Rodon is, now. As Madrigal refused to do, an extension. And I can’t wait until your boy extends Keuchel and Grandal. How’s that extension working out for Moncada?
Manfred Rob's Earth Band
Just an observation but if Rick Hahn is a genius, what would he be if they won a World Series? Didn’t they win one under Kenny Williams?
To put this in perspective, now that the White Sox have won over 80 games for the first time in ten years – a few of their fans have let this accomplishment make them think, that they are now qualified to write the book on dynasties.
To think A-Rod was on this list twice at one point.
When it was a game.
He still stalking jlo or he finally get through it.
Worst contract? Maybe Strasburg? Still plenty of time to turn it around, but he’s been injured since he signed it. Cabrera hasn’t aged well, but they got some good years early on. Cano is ending poorly, but he was good for the first half.
Oh, wait. Chris Davis. That’s it. Collapsed immediately and he’s now done but the O’s are still paying.
I’d argue that Chris Davis’ contract nearly ruined the Orioles.
Everyone complaining their teams don’t spend more $… but look at these contracts.. Votto, Miggy, Cano, Price, Chris Davis, Yelich, Strasburg, Mauer, Stanton, Posey..
So maybe we should be applauding teams like the Rays, Indians, White Sox, Braves, A’s, Royals, etc for not over-extending themselves. So many of those contracts end up as huge mistakes. Consider that the Orioles handcuffed themselves with Davis, Reds with Votto, Twins with Mauer, etc – if they would have avoided giving those guys that massive payday, they could have stayed competitive by flipping their roster quicker.
Yeah, and the Strasburg contract is still a head scratcher in my opinion. He was more or less past his prime and they awarded him with a 7 year extension over 200m. Makes no sense. If he had received Patrick Corbin money or even a bit more, it would have been justified financially
it goes both ways really. that said though the teams near the very bottom in total value on this list have been mediocre at best while more near the top and middle have done better.
Don’t feel it’s fair to compare Posey and Votto to the other contracts you listed. Posey had many productive seasons after that deal and helped win another World Series while Votto most likely makes the HoF
Just to be clear about Cabrera, the late owner knew the contract wouldn’t look good at the end, but he wanted Miguel to be a Tiger for life and to go into the HOF as a Tiger. It was a gift to Tiger fans and the city of Detroit.
What a strange list. Most of those contracts were actually great, when you consider their team’s priority, which was to win then. They all knew the out years would be wasted, but in many of these cases they actually haven’t been. Let’s go through them …
Votto: Still a great player. Nearly won an MVP last year.
Miggy: Tigers were a 90 win team four years in a row shortly after he signed, and went to a World Series.
Cano: Was a top ten MVP finisher twice for the Mariners and was still rocking a 900 OPS for the Mets in 2020.
Price: Helped the Red Sox win a World Series and has still never had a below average ERA+ since his second year, with Tampa, in 2009. In fact he’s never been close.
Yelich: Won an MVP and led the Brewers to the playoffs several times and is still young.
Strasburg: Won a World Series and nearly a Cy Young for the Nats.
Mauer: Greatest player in team history (or 2nd, take your pick), and won an MVP.
Stanton: Traded before he was a financial problem for the Marlins, so no big deal.
Posey: Don’t even start. Three World Series for the Giants.
On this list, only Davis and maybe Stanton are even bad contracts in any sense, and the latter became someone else’s problem. None of these teams (except the Orioles in Davis’ case) would do anything different if they had to do it over.
They had Miggy and Yelich already for their prime years. They paid them the mega money for their worst years.
While I understand that logic, you can also point to teams like the Dodgers and Braves who without either Betts or Freeman (respectively) would probably not have won the last two WS.
Or Geezuz, where would the Giants have been without Posey??
Rays get crap for being cheap, but at least we’ve had 2-$100MM+ contracts so far.
lumber and lighting
White Sox number is shocking.Clev owner is 1 of the riches men in the world and it’s just about printing more money to him.It’s a shame because with a competitive salary structure as other playoff teams and maybe Clev would of had at least 1 World Series Ring rt?
I don’t know where you get your information. Larry and Paul Dolan run a law firm outside of Cleveland. They got the money to buy the Indians from Larry’s brother who started Cablevision. The Cleveland Dolans are nowhere near the wealthiest owners in baseball, much less the world.
I don’t know where Larry Dolan lands as far as wealth ranking among MLB owners but he is worth around 5 billion & the Guardians are worth 1.5 billion. He is known publicly to have an aversion to paying athletes, he used to hate Steinbrenner and blamed him for the explosion of player salary.
For the 80th gazillionth time, the owner’s independent wealth has nothing to do with the revenue available to spend on payroll. Pro sports owners do not subsidize their franchises with their personal money. Ever.
Steve Cohen enters the chat.
Do the Mets have enough annual revenue to cover that payroll?
Look at the small market teams that are continuously at the bottom of the food chain. “Rebuilding” with a few exceptions because of excellent front offices. Tampa, Oakland etc. This is exactly what the players want to fix. Teams spending to put a competitive team on the field. Not so the Owners can keep lining their pockets, receiving revenue sharing and top draft picks for continous losing records.
Do you use Amazon? I do. Are you mad that the owner is lining his pockets, and the employees aren’t getting paid exponentially more?
You obviously have no clue how manufacturing works. AMAZON AND BASEBALL ARE NOT THE SAME. DO YOU GO TO GAMES? THE USHERS, THE VENDORS, THE TICKET SALES, THE GROUND CREW AND THE PERSON BRINGING YOU… YEAH YOU YOUR $15 Truly Seltzer.(u sound like a seltzer guy). Thats AMAZON.. hell half the time the concession is some parents volunteering to raise money for Athletics Rugby or HS Bands. I m not watching an Amazon guy deliver 350 residential deliveries. We are watching the next legacy or hall of famer. You may want your kid to dream to be a UPS Driver. Which is fine. I have 27 years of service myself. Bottom line more kids need to play the game watch the game and spend less time playing video games. Get outside play some catch! More competitive teams more fans!
Chipper Jones' illegitimate kid
This was quite the rollercoaster of a comment. And like most rollercoasters, it did not leave me as fulfilled as I had hoped.
The Baseball Fan
The better word might be “bipolar”
So because they entertain they are worth disproportionately more than other workers? They’re already getting millions. It’s incredibly elitist and obnoxious to argue that MLB players are underpaid but regular workers who can barely pay their bills are fairly compensated.
ok lets pay em $30hr and see how that works out.
Amazon and Mlb are equals ;). let’s pay the same so the fans are happy.
Actually…… many people are upset that Amazon sub-contracts out most of their delivery. Amazon workers have tried to unionize to help get better pay and working conditions, and Bezos has fought them tooth and nail every step of the way. So people actually should be mad. There are articles about how the drivers run Stop signs or pee in bottles because they aren’t allowed to stop due to strict packages per hour minimums, but yet if they get into an accident Amazon won’t claim any responsibility due to the drivers working for local subcontracted delivery units.
Yes. What Amazon workers get paid and the way they get treated is poor, people have rightly been outraged, and when a light has been shined on those poor business practices Amazon has changed them because they got caught. Poor example.
So you don’t believe small market teams like the A’s and Rays should be rewarded for being smarter than other teams? I’ll agree that perennial tanking needs to be addressed, but the problem is not trying to compete. The players are blaming a lack of spending because they want more money, not because they care about competitiveness.
Players just as much of the owners money as they can get. Not every team can competitive. In order to have winning teams you need bad teams. Unless you want everyone to be 500. Cohen isn’t spending half a billion to be 500. Players very much want bad teams.
Some really bad deals with only a few good ones. But as a fan I’d rather see more teams giving bigger contracts even if a lot of them don’t end up looking great.
Most fans shouldn’t care. Not their money. Yeahhhhh we got so and so. How exciting.
Just wait till Ohtani gets his
Do you think Ohtani or Soto will get a larger contract?
Ohtani will be well-paid, but he isn’t looking to sign a milestone contract. It just isn’t his style.
Chipper Jones' illegitimate kid
You think he will turn down the money because it isn’t aesthetic?
Soto. He’s younger and his offensive numbers so far compare fairly well with some of the game’s all-time greats through similar age. Ohtani may get a similar AAV, but won’t get as many years.
I don’t get the appeal of Soto. He’s a good player, but not world class at this point. Not like Acuna.
Soto better start putting up his past numbers. 2022 isn’t going to cut it for half a billion.
The Chris Davis contract is the worst contract ever signed in sports. The second would be Ellsbury’s 7 year 153m contract
all in the suit that you wear
What happened with the last year of Ellsbury’s contract? Did the Yankees succeed in not paying him?
They paid him and insurance covered part of it iirc
all in the suit that you wear
Correct. I just googled it.
not even close. BAL’s window was closed by the time Chris Davis really cratered. Compared to a contract like Pujols, where the team was trying to with throughout but was clearly held back by the albatross, Davis’s doesnt look that bad.
Pujols brought in a lot of money. Didn’t hurt them at all. Put up good enough numbers most years.
Nice to see the Mets aren’t near the bottom of this list anymore like they were a couple years ago.
Lindor’s contact may be the way things have gone so far.
Lindor overrated, over paid.
Awful contract but not drastically over paid.
Ok hear me out here. Teams have to make the playoffs OR have a top ten payroll once every five years or they lose revenue sharing funds till they get in compliance.
It’s s start!
all in the suit that you wear
Maybe go with having a winning record instead of making the playoffs. Some good teams have missed the playoffs like the Blue Jays last year.
The Blue Jays are a great example of a team that acts like a small market team when they are very much not. The 2021 season is a great example – 5MM under a top ten payroll and just missed the playoffs. They could have went a little harder at the trade deadline, and would have probably made the playoffs.
They literally spent $150 million on Springer last offseason and another $110 million on Gausman this offseason. What part of that looks like a small market team? Sure I can see an argument that they should act like a big market team instead of a mid size market team, but to say they act like a small market team is simply not true.
And that spending occurred while they were unsure of whether any games would be played in TOR!
No, forcing teams to spend for the sake of spending solves nothing. Something needs to be done but it should be on a case by case basis, no generalizations.
The second option is irrelevant because it is literally unachievable for many teams, unless revenue sharing is vastly increased (i.e. most of the money they’re spending is generated by other teams). The Dodgers’ player payroll alone is tens of millions higher than the Guardians’ entire revenue stream.
Only if revenue is shared completely. You can’t punish teams with 40 million a year tv deals for not being able to compete with teams with tv deals in the hundreds of millions.
The current system is fine. Players are happy. Owners are happy. The big markets get the best players and play on the biggest stage. You pay off the fly over teams to have someone to play and keep their fans giving mlb money. Only small market fans complain yet they love mlb so much they are here on Christmas day. NY LA fans will say they want PiT OAK to spend but if that means those teams making the playoffs over their team I bet most don’t want that. If they spend more money, your team will make playoffs less often.
Chris Davis has to be the worst contract on this list. Probably MLB history.
A Jason Kendall sighting!
Going back and reading the old posts is wild. I particularly enjoyed the optimism in the Stanton post that, in retrospect, was horribly naive. That’s not a diss on Mark P, because that viewpoint made sense at the time and I probably shared it, but it seems funny now.
No different for Franco, Lindor, Tatis Jr, etc. Only time will tell whether those contracts are good or bad.
I could tell most were bad as soon as I heard the news. People can go back in 5 years and see for themselves. Most aren’t hard to figure out.
Things can change fast for a team. The Padres went from never having a cycle, no hitter, and a 100 million contract to checking off all 3. And now we have two 300 million dollar contracts.
Next up is a championship
Next up is a fast crash and rebuild. Probably a sure to fail reload effort then a rebuild.
people talk about the Pirates a lot, but that the EE contract is Cleveland’s top one is honestly even more embarrassing.
I would say that is false. This list is mostly from 2010 to present…. the Indians were smart / lucky enough to have homegrown talent and young guys via trade seemingly forever. You could go back to Thome and Manny Ramirez, but just over the past 12 years they’ve had Jose Ramirez, Shane Bieber, Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana, Corey Kluber, Mike Clevinger, Carlos Carrasco, Zach Plesac, Trevor Bauer, Jason Kipnis, Yan Gomes, Cody Allen, Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, etc….. and they won over 90 games five times in that span. That’s kind of an insane amount of talent to all be starting their careers as young guys in Cleveland. They really only needed role players like Jason Giambi and Nick Swisher via free agency to fill out the roster. In market size, Cleveland is considered #21 and Pittsburgh is #22. And unlike the Pirates, most of these guys played out their contracts in Cleveland while they were competing, rather than being traded when they had 2 years of control left like the Pirates ALWAYS do with anyone of value.
The Indians biggest FA signing was only 60 million? I counted 5 players that were traded shortly after they signed the deal.
The Yankees will regret giving Cole $324 million over nine.
Maybe but unlikely. They’re not expecting steady-state production throughout the life of the deal. They’ve factored in the decline years.
Cole has already been worth that contract. Why on earth would a team like the Yankees care what Cole is like five years from now? That’s not why they signed him, and they can write if off easily when it happens.
If any pitcher can stay healthy and productive that long it’s Cole.
Royals signed an 8 year deal with George Brett in the 80s – nytimes.com/1985/04/03/sports/3-royals-to-sign-lif… among other long term deals. It was for under $15 mil total though which was pretty high at the time.
Wouldn’t technically Arenado’s contract be the largest in Cards history. since they took on his contract from the Rockies and added a year.. The Cards owe Arenado $179M over 6 yrs.if my math is correct.
But they didn’t sign him to it.
Blue Jay’s longest contract is incorrect. Berrios just signed a 7 year extension.
Except this article is about the largest in terms of total guaranteed money, not the longest in terms of total guaranteed years.
What’s your guess on how many of these guys will end up in the HoF? My opinions are below.
Locks: Trout, Posey, Cabrera
On their Way: Altuve, Betts, Arenado
Very Intriguing Path: Greinke, Stanton, Harper, Votto, Perez, Cole
Hall of Very Good: Springer, Encarnacion, Freeman, Yelich, Goldschmidt, Strasburg, Price, Mauer
No Shot: Chavez, Heyward, Davis, Kendall, Grandal
Too Soon: Lindor, Tatis, Seager, Franco
I’ll set the over/under at 10.5.
good list but I think a few guys can be bumped up a level like Greinke, Harper, Perez, Cole, Freeman, Yelich, Goldy, Mauer.
I switch Arenado and Greinke. Greinke’s practically a lock and Arenado? He doesn’t look like a HOFer to me.
Arenado’s nowhere close to the hall. As Rockies fans (and now Cards fans) will tell you, he’s a very good player but not a great one historically speaking. He makes some of the most jaw-dropping plays you’ve ever seen, but there are lots of fantastic defensive third basemen (he’s not even the best currently, as Chapman — his HS teammate, ironically — is better). Offensively he’s never had an wRC+ over 133 (compare that to Todd Helton, who’s right on the edge of getting in to the Hall and had several years in the 160’s), nor an OBP over 380. He’s at 36 fWAR for his career and declining. He won’t sniff 60.
Nolan is on his way. Voters will eat up those gold gloves.
No, Arenado *IS* the best defensive 3B in MLB and hasn’t even started to decline yet. His offensive numbers will probably wind up topping Scott Rolen, who just got in the Hall as a similarly elite defensive 3B with excellent but not outstanding offense.
While you didn’t know it at the time you posted, he also put up a 151 wRC+ just last year.
I’ll take the under on 10.5, but it’s very close, which means there’s quite a few HOFers on this list. Probably not surprising considering anyone getting the largest contract in team history should be very, very good. Mauer to me, btw, has a case as strong as Posey’s. Both will make it. I’d flip Greinke into “on their way” category. I almost want to push Altuve back into “very intriguing path.”
Harper is already a lock for the Hall of Fame. As is Zack Greinke
When the Cubs signed Jason Heyward I just didn’t get it. He’ll go down in baseball history as the largest singles-hitter (and not even a good one) to ever play the game.
Theo has made his share of miscalculations when spending other people’s money, over his career. But he also, often achieved his goals.
Fred K. Burke
2 more years to go with that Heyward contract. It’s like being stuck in an elevator.
They misread his offense and overvalued his defense.
Freeman’s contract turned out to be pretty much the most bang for your buck contract you’re probably ever gonna see.
Biggest problem in MLB finances is the disconnect between winning and profiting. Spending more on payroll does fairly reliably increase your winning percentage (unless you’re the Mets) — it’s a myth that it doesn’t — but increasing your winning percentage does not then significantly increase your revenue, which is much more closely tied to just the size of your market. That’s the problem. Tanking is an economic phenomenon, and is entirely economically rational. The Pirates can get better if they double their payroll (going in the red to do so) but that won’t increase their revenue by the same factor, and so is irrational to pursue. It might do so, briefly, if they actually win a World Series or compete for one for several years, but they’re so far from there that they can’t spend their way to it. They are acting entirely rationally; they just have had bad luck with decisions made by their front office and so are in a Catch-22 situation that can only be solved if a bunch of great prospects hit at the same time. So they’re waiting.
I feel like it’s more about the product than the biggest contract. Id’ be interested in seeing their highest payroll rank of all time. Like what’s the bottom ten been each year of the last decade? How has that correlated to playoff appearances and wins?
There simply must be a system that keeps teams close in payroll to keep competitiveness
There should be a CBA between small market owners and large market owners.
Any assistance to small market teams should be based on salary spending.
According to Forbes ESTIMATE Mia and TB got the most revenue sharing in 2018 at just under $55 mil.
Let’s say they must spend at least $100 mil on salaries to get the full $55 mil.
And devise a calculation for a percentage of the $55 mil based on salary levels.
I truly believe TB has the small market figured out. Let the FA walk for picks or trade them for prospects. Signing them to market deals provides no excess value. Even the Franco extension is not likely to get to being untradeable, or insurmountable if it doesn’t work out. It’s about team, not any one player. Great scouting allows the pipeline to flow.
Tampa has nothing to show for it …only small market that has done anything in recent memory is the Royals 2 World Series title and almost a 3rd
Pittsburg, Oakland and Cleveland, wow. The dates on Oakland and Pittsburg largest contracts is especially eye widening. I don’t know if this makes Cleveland slightly better though. If that contract is the largest to date I fret to learn what the next biggest one is and how long ago. Anyone out there already know the answer to that?
Look at all the money the dodgers have spent and don’t have a real 162 game championship since 1988..that’s what’s awful
While it wasn’t a full season, the 60-game championship is still just as real.
Corrected statement: Look at all the money the Dodgers have spent and don’t have a full season 162-game championship since 1988. That’s what’s awful.
Eric Chavez was a very good and underrated player.
I’m really shocked that the white Sox biggest contract was Benintendi just this year for only $75 million
deGrom Texas Ranger
They had Dunn and Konerko, along with a very good early career extension of Sale, so I am surprised, given all their talent that they haven’t committed more. As for Sale, it’s interesting how a guy with one of the 5 best contracts in baseball can end up on the near opposite end of that later on.
White Sox have one of the cheapest ownerships in sports. The only teams that have spent less on free agents historically are the Rays, A’s, Pirates, and Reds. But those other 4 teams don’t play in the 3rd largest city in the US. Utterly pathetic, inexcusably cheap ownership.
deGrom Texas Ranger
I’m not a White Sox fan, but this is highly misleading. Total value means nothing. It’s all about AAV. They traded for Liam Hendricks last season with his 13.5 million AAV or whatever it is. They didn’t sign him, but I can really just think of Alex Rios as a recent salary dump. They did extend quite a few young guys at reasonable rates. That is just them taking a gamble and getting a high payout sometimes.
You’re not wrong but yeesh…what are the odds the A’s don’t break that record before it reaches the 20 year mark?
Chris Davis is still the man. Terrible contract, but glad he got paid.
put it in the books
A’s $66m from 2004- that team needs to moved or sold.
Gwynning's Anal Lover
Pittsburgh should set up another professional baseball team in the same town with a purpose. It’s not like the Pirates have the money to sue the other team.
Crazy the White Sox only have beat out the Athletics and Pirates. In that market they should be competing for top players.
@sky14 The Sox owner is like the guy in the movie “The Natural”. Sits in a dark room with the blinds closed, counting his money.
Chavez was signed in ‘04 and Benintendi in ‘22 so it took the White Sox 18 years and lots of inflation to catch up to the A’s.
$100 in 2004 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $157.60 today?
So the A’s spending $66M in 2004 would be comparable to the Sox spending $104M in 2022?
The Sox also extended Moncada, 5 years, $70M in 2020. And Grandal 4 years $73M.
Large market Chicago White Sox keeping company with the A’s and Pirates.
Like I said, Jerry is like the owner in the movie “The Natural”. Really not an exaggeration at all.
The best news all winter has been fans purchasing the “sell the team Jerry” billboards.
Ugh,the O’s Dan Duquette and that Chris Davis deal… and all that deferred $$$. Thank goodness , the O’s franchise is looking better with Mike Elias and Sig Mejdal behind it. To take DFA’d guys, who are now trade targets after you gave them playing time – smart move by Mike and Sig. Will take awhile to clean up the deferred clutter mess by Duquette (like Bobby Bo). Hoping Mike and Sig can get the O’s back into contention every year – as an O’s fan, when hope springs eternal. It’s looking optimistic with the farm system in place – Grayson Rodriguez coming up this year – I think we made need another consistent solid innings guy if the decimal is right – if not, the farm should show another good one ready to go that’s waiting an opportunity
Guaranteed l-t contracts for a single player are not virtuous even though many writers and posters think that way from having a lack of realistic business acumen. Remember this fact: “Every player wants theirs when they hold the cards like an unrestricted FA”. Nothing wrong with that, but the non-goliath metro area franchises in their likewise self-interest should not play that game (those other than Dodgers, Yanks, Mets, Cubs, RSox). There is no single player in baseball that can dominate a baseball game like Michael Jordan did in basketball or Tom Brady in football. Most have to emphasize being really good at draft/development to gather numerous good players since MLB intentionally panders to big markets that can casually outspend mistakes that would cripple others. Think Bauer for LAD or Stanton/Ellsbury/etc that are a blip for NYY. If you gave all 30 of these FO’s the same amount of chips like a Texas Hold’em buy in to make its roster (zero geographic advantage), do you believe Yanks or LAD would continually coast to at least make playoffs every year?……please! Most teams are motivated to be frugal/smart and let the chips fall year to year, because as long as MLB has no hard cap, the larger geographic areas can instantly buy the best players available. This is why we see some owners just pocketing/content to be a feeder (not inherently right either) and others not going nuts bc they can’t make as many$ in its local market. In any sport/business-you get actions that are incentivized. May as well make money to be a non-contender when you can’t match the resources and occasionally be relevant when you patiently accumulate enough cheap talent to splurge on a big target in a limited window.
Only 9 of the 30 signed with a new team out of FA in these contracts.
F’ing pathetic excuse for a two-bit majority owner.
Surprised the largest contract in White Sox history is Benintendi.
Hard to believe that there are 4 franchises that have never issued a $100 million dollar contract, and 14 teams have stayed away from $200 million dollar deals so far
José Ramirez, 7yrs for $129 mil?!?!?
By what we’re seeing in this market he should’ve got at least 200 million for seven years.
Now didn’t somebody crunch all the relevant numbers on Robinson Cano’s albatross contract with the M’s and came to the conclusion that the M’s actually came out ahead on that one. I mean, it doesn’t feel like we did as a fan watching Robinson at the time (although in his prime he was the smoothest second baseman I had ever really appreciated…so gifted it seemed he could play that position in his sleep.)
There is a couple of those contracts that are only a few years old that when they were signed, many of us (me included) thought that teams would be overpaying in their older years. Now it looks like…maybe not!
The way the floor is rising and are still capable of being just average, they might be a bargain!
And you all think this is reasonable. It makes me want to beat my baseball addiction. Players don’t contribute to making the world a better place…. Ever! If they have an education, it’s paid for them. They create nothing. They don’t employ workers; they posses no patents; they cure no sick. Most don’t even to play full time to get a check. Most people could care less about Baseball but they pay taxes to support stadiums which the players get a piece of (Yes, they indirectly get your tax money). It’s not enough when they wine and scream to the media about their mistreatment.
Bro, you sound miserable. No one’s forcing you to watch. To bash these guys for achieving their dreams by using their god given talents absurd. Like you wouldn’t trade places with them in a second?
They contribute nothing? Give me a damn break! Almost every single MLB regular has a charity or foundation that contributes to the community in which they play in, and/or their hometown. So, there goes that argument…sorry.
Some local/state taxes may go to stadiums, but that’s why we vote in this country. It’s not like players are directly profiting off of your taxes, so another absurd premise debunked. Unless you’re purchasing tickets to a game/buying concessions while there, buying licensed MLB merchandise, or flat out giving players money; then in no way are these players taking your money.
Let’s not even mention the hope and pride that players give to the communities in which they play for. They make it possible for some to get through a tough work week, stretches of depression, fighting illnesses, marital/relationship troubles. Because they’re always dependably there for us to provide a welcome distraction to the lulls that sometimes occur in daily life. There’s always outliers, but way more often than not, these players give it there all every single day and night. A lot of them miss the births of their children and being there to raise them, aren’t able to directly be there for their parents when they get elderly and sick, miss their best friends weddings. They do it under insanely intense media scrutiny that’s only gotten worse with social media. They get injured, sometimes playing through it while making it worse and necessitating offseason surgeries. Do you do all of those things in your career? If so, I’d say you should get their market value.
I’m not trying to dump on you, but lighten up dude. Baseball is the most pure, fair and best game ever created. Enjoy it man!!!
Well said. 🙂
Do you think Bill Gates or the greediest man alive, Warren Buffett, donate their massive fortunes to charity out of the goodness of their hearts? What percent of donated funds go for what it’s intended for? It’s a single digit. Charities turn taxable money into non taxable money and is used for whatever the organization uses it for. Do you really believe you debunked my accusation?
Voters don’t vote for stadiums straight up. It’s a line item added to a bill. By voting against paying for a stadium or another municipal project by one inconvenient method, they are voting yes to a line item making them of pay for a stadium in another method. Tell me that’s not true cause I can prove otherwise.
Very well written jk. Baseball is an enjoyment.
One correction: players most definitely do benefit from tax-payer funded stadiums. They couldn’t play and collect their millionaire salaries without them.
OMG please Scrooge McDuck flee these boards to where your mind may feel more safe and contented and resentment free. I don’t know HOW you could have EVER considered yourself a baseball fan in the first place with such an abysmal opinion about it all. In fact, you were never a baseball fan -EVER- (just a casual) or it would be readily apparent to you without even considering the notion about how much baseball and baseball players have enriched and added value to your life. Obviously they haven’t, so we’ll be done with you. Have a healthy 2023 regardless.
I just came for the comments. You guys slay me.
You can embarrass Pirates ownership in every article but they still will not change their ways.
Any other franchise would have locked up Reynolds in a long term contract.
Well, it’s a good thing the Pirates did indeed lock Reynolds up since you posted.
Love this. I wish I was smart enough to set up a spreadsheet and track WAR v Salary over time. I could set the spreadsheet up but not sure where to find historical WAR values.
Looking forward to being insulted now…
It’s more complicated than that, as $/WAR is not linear. Star players, primary DHs, and closers get a lot more money per WAR than others players do.
I would create a 180m salary cap and a 120-130m salary floor. Two years per decade you would be allowed to go under the floor (for rebuild purposes) but the other years you have to reach the floor.
You can’t go over the cap and if you can’t reach the floor for more than 2 years per decade you have to sell the team or relocate.
Owing a mlb team is a privilege and comes with some obligations.
Fernando Ringworm Jr.
Manny Machado’s 2nd contract with the Padres was for $350m, no?
New money guaranteed.
For the Mariners; Surely Julio’s contract is a bit bigger than Cano’s? Unless you are ignoring option years?
Never mind; it’s fully guaranteed money only.
The Twins signed Correa to a guaranteed $200 million, no? More than the Mauer contract?
I think that there are things written into the contract that can void it if he spends time on the IL for a certain amount of time. Not 100% guaranteed.
That’s (part of) what the Mets tried to do with a Correa contract, so it makes sense that you would associate that with him. Their attempts to put those conditions in the contract, and the Twins’ willingness to offer a deal without those, were reportedly what led him to go back to the Twins.
I think you’re right and deserve a free subscription for paying attention.
I think it would be interesting to have a similar list of the largest contract each team has fully paid out. For example,, the Rays have signed a couple of larger contracts in the past, such as for Evan Longoria, but traded his before the contract was fully completed and paid out.
How many of these contracts really look good in hindsight? There are several bad and really bad deals included here.
Aside from the ones that are too early to tell, probably just Altuve, Goldschmidt, and Posey.
Trout because Angels need something to compete with Dodgers. How do you let the best player is baseball leave in free agency? It would have been tuff. Ramirez Reynolds Franco are too early to tell but are very reasonable so should be fine. Riley looks promising but more expensive than those. Harper made Philly a lot of $ already. Hard for him not to work out.
Many were awful the day the were signed.
I Like Big Bunts
Man, the White Sox are such a pathetic franchise.
Why? Because they didn’t give Chris Davis $161 million or Stephen Strasburg $245 million?
Cheating Carlos Correa will be the biggest bust in Twins history.
Realistically, when we look at the Oakland to Las Vegas thing, if you were local political leadership in Oakland (regardless of your ideological views) and you saw a team whose biggest contract was from 2004–but had their hand out to you–what conclusion would you draw? Vegas folks are assuming that by giving a lot to Oakland ownership, they will get a team leadership that wants to put on a attractive product. I guess we will see.
If you want MLB to be better run it like the NFL. A salary cap is the answer. The NFL is the most popular league in this country mainly because of the parity. Rebuilding an NFL franchise if done properly takes 2-3 years. MLB total rebuilds take 5-7 years. How many championships would the Cowboys have if Jerry Jones had an open checkbook? Put a real salary cap in place and MLB would flourish once again.
Rebuilds take less time in the NFL, because the high draft picks are added to the team immediately instead of needing to spend usually 2-3 years in the minor leagues.
As for a hard salary cap, the MLBPA is just too strong to ever let it happen. Plus, there are also downsides to the salary cap where NFL teams are often forced to release good players still under contract in order to save cap space. The NFL also has massive revenue sharing that isn’t possible with MLB’s structure that allows most teams to spend close to the salary cap.
“The NFL is the most popular league in this country mainly because of the parity.”
Only when the best athletes want to play baseball. The model that makes players languish in the minors is not attractive. Baseball talent has become diluted by mediocrity.
Hockey is the same with a glut of almost-good-enough players who are made to give their youth to feeder leagues before they get a sniff at college. And the money is only great for a select few.
White Sox at #29 in MLB. Only the Oakland A’s have been stingier with large contracts.
Unless JR sells, I’ll wager the ChiSox will be dead last when the A’s leave Oakland and land in Las Vegas.
Hard to believe in this day and age that there are still 3 teams yet to cross the $100 million threshold
The A’s …. Smh…. Yea, Vegas will change they franchise smh