Baseball season doesn’t begin until later this month, but there’s already baseball news being pitched on media outlets. This week had fans poring over reports of two record-breaking contracts. Free agent Bryce Harper is now signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in the largest contract in MLB history, and the Colorado Rockies’ Nolan Arenado will stand by his team as the highest-salaried position player in the league.
2019 has already been a year of home runs in terms of players’ wealth. Earlier, in February, Manny Machado made headlines when he signed with the San Diego Padres for a 10-year, $300 million contract, the biggest free-agent contract in MLB history up until Harper’s announcement. Keep reading to see who else commands the most profitable contracts in baseball.
Josh Donaldson: $28.65M Contract
For third baseman Josh Donaldson, winning the 2015 American League MVP award led to one of the nicest paydays in baseball. Donaldson inked a two-year, $28.65 million deal to firmly cement himself in the upper echelons of MLB salaries. The three-time All-Star agreed to a one-year, $23 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018. However, the team traded him to the Cleveland Indians in August 2018, and he now plays for the Braves.
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Jake Arrieta: $75M Contract
Jake “the Snake” Arrieta began his baseball career with the Baltimore Orioles in 2007 with a signing bonus of $1.1 million. He then played for the Cubs for several years before signing a three-year, $75 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies in March 2018.
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J.D. Martinez: $110M Contract
Thirty-one-year-old outfielder J.D. Martinez scored himself a $110 million engagement with Fenway Park’s Green Monster thanks to the contract he signed with the Boston Red Sox in February 2018. As one of the newest members of the BoSox, Martinez takes his talents across the country after becoming the 18th player in MLB history to hit four home runs in a single game, which he did during the 2017 season with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Jordan Zimmermann: $110M Contract
Starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann looked to earn his stripes with the Detroit Tigers after the team signed him to a five-year, $110 million contract in November 2015. He got off to a good start the following season when he became just the sixth pitcher ever to finish April with five-plus wins and no losses. However, he struggled through his 2017 season with a number of injuries and a losing record.
Fans hope Zimmermann can return to the form that made him one of the highest-paid players in the majors. Until then, you might want to add his jersey to your list of things not to buy at an MLB game.
Yoenis Cespedes: $110M Contract
A massive payday is no shock to fans who’ve followed the career of “La Potencia.” The talented outfielder landed with his fourth MLB team in two years when he was traded to the New York Mets during the 2015 season, helping them reach the World Series. Following that campaign, the Mets signed Cespedes to a four-year, $110 million contract with a no-trade clause.
Yu Darvish: $126M Contract
Japan’s Yu Darvish made a big leap across the Pacific to play in the majors and scored a big payday to accompany the journey. The right-handed pitcher got his start in Japanese professional baseball before coming stateside in 2012 to play for the Texas Rangers. After a brief stop with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he’s now a member of the Chicago Cubs, having inked a six-year, $126 million deal with the team in February 2018 — one the Cubs hope will help them recapture 2016’s World Series glory.
Mike Trout: $144.5M Contract
The Millville Meteor’s on-field brilliance has lit up the Los Angeles Angels since his major league debut in 2011. Widely regarded as one of the best young players in baseball history, Trout scored himself a sweet payday in 2014 with a six-year, $144.5 million extension.
Jon Lester: $155M Contract
Cubs pitcher Jon Lester has an impressive resume. As a three-time World Series champ and lymphoma survivor to boot, he’s earned his right to command a pretty impressive salary. After nine seasons with the Red Sox — and a short stint with the Oakland Athletics — Lester finally got his big payday: a six-year, $155 million deal with the Cubs.
Felix Hernandez: $175M Contract
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to Mariners fans that King Felix commands a massive payday. Having the distinction of throwing the first perfect game in Seattle Mariners history in 2012, Hernandez got rewarded handsomely for his efforts a year later when he scored a seven-year extension with the team to the tune of $175 million.
Justin Verlander: $180M Contract
Although some people know Verlander as Mr. Kate Upton, he’s earned plenty of accolades in his own right as a Cy Young Award winner and seven-time All-Star. After 13 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, Verlander was traded to the Houston Astros in 2017 and helped them win the World Series. Prior to that move, Verlander earned the distinction of being the highest-paid pitcher in MLB history — at least for a while — with a seven-year, $180 million contract he inked with the Tigers back in 2013.
Jason Heyward: $184M Contract
Another Cubbie to make the list, J-Hey snagged himself a pretty impressive payday in Chicago. The right fielder started his MLB career with the Atlanta Braves for five seasons. After a one-year stint in St. Louis, he signed an eight-year, $184 million contract with the Cubs in 2016.
Zack Greinke: $206.5M Contract
Out west in Arizona, Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke has enjoyed success both on and off the field. After his career was nearly derailed in 2005 and 2006 due to battles with severe depression and anxiety, he re-entered the world of baseball in 2007 and worked his way back up the ranks to the top of the crop, earning the American League Cy Young Award in 2009. That triumph also came with a handsome payday of $206.5 million over six years.
Clayton Kershaw: $215M Contract
Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw has already put together a stellar career with seven All-Star selections, a National League MVP and three Cy Young Awards.
In the process, Kershaw has been well-compensated, to the tune of a seven-year, $215 million contract extension in January 2014 following his second Cy Young award. The deal’s average annual value of $30.7 million was the largest ever for a baseball player before being surpassed by David Price.
David Price: $217M Contract
When the Red Sox signed five-time All-Star pitcher David Price in 2015, they decided they wanted to break some records of their own. After a career that included stops with the Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays, Price finally put a price tag on his success: a seven-year, $217 million deal, which at the time was the biggest contract ever for a starting pitcher.
Joey Votto: $225M Contract
This slugging first baseman came down from Canada to light things up in Cincinnati — and he’s definitely earning his keep. Votto has played with the Reds since his MLB debut in 2007 and has had plenty of time to bank some serious cash in the big leagues. In 2012, he signed a 10-year, $225 million contract extension with the Reds, which contributed to his net worth of $138 million.
Robinson Canó: $240M Contract
With a net worth around $25 million and a yearly salary of $24 million — courtesy of his $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners, which he agreed to in 2013 — this 36-year-old slugger hit it out of the park in terms of his payday. The second baseman was a long-time player for the New York Yankees — winning a World Series with them in 2009 — and has been named an All-Star eight times. Canó currently plays for the New York Mets.
Miguel Cabrera: $248M Contract
Another Detroit Tiger, Miggy has gained fame as one of baseball’s best hitters over the past decade and a half. He won the American League Triple Crown in 2012, becoming the first player in 45 years to do so. In 2014, Cabrera’s prowess at the plate warranted a massive paycheck in the form of an eight-year contract extension worth $248 million, which brought his total payday to a 10-year commitment worth $292 million.
Albert Pujols: $254M Contract
When it comes to superstars in modern baseball, many people would put Albert Pujols near the top of the list. Having been a dominant force since his 2001 MLB debut, Pujols played 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals before free agency arrived in late 2011. He was toying with offers from multiple teams before he settled with the Los Angeles Angels and a 10-year, $254 million deal.
Nolan Arenado: $260M Contract
The Colorado Rockies’ third baseman signed an eight-year, $260 million contract on Feb. 26 to stay on with his team. That means his salary will average out to $33.4 million per season, making him the highest-paid position player by salary in Major League history, Forbes reported.
This will be Arenado’s sixth year in Colorado with the Rockies. Despite interest from Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York, Arenado told USA Today Sports, “I want to be where I’m comfortable.” The outlet also noted that he is “one of only four players in history to win three home-run titles and earn four Gold Gloves in a four-year period.”
Manny Machado: $300M Contract
Manny Machado, described by MLB.com as a “superstar free-agent infielder,” agreed to a 10-year, $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres on Feb. 19.
The deal ranks as one of biggest sports deals ever, and the biggest free-agent contract in sports history. Or, at least it did until Bryce Harper signed with the Philadelphia Phillies for $330 million.
Giancarlo Stanton: $325M Contract
A handsome payday didn’t come straight out of left field for New York Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton — he actually nabbed it playing mostly in right field. Stanton boasts a net worth of $20 million. He’ll likely see that figure go up with the 13-year, $325 million deal he signed with the Marlins that followed him with his trade to the Yankees. At that point, it was the richest contract in U.S. sports history, according to Forbes. Or at least it was, until…
Bryce Harper: $330M Contract
Bryce Harper was referred to as “baseball’s LeBron” when he was just a teenager. On Feb. 28, the slugger wunderkind signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies — the largest deal in MLB history, according to CBS Sports. Giancarlo Stanton previously held the record with a $325 million contract.
ESPN reported that league sources informed it that “Harper’s deal includes a no-trade clause and has no opt-outs … indicating that he is committed to the Phillies for possibly the rest of his career.”
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Sean Dennison contributed to the reporting for this article.
Some photos are representational and reflect players’ previous teams.