Alex Rodriguez's time with the Yankees is over, as he'll be released after playing one more game. His legacy will always be complicated, and there will be plenty of time to debate that. Part of that legacy will be making more money than any other baseball player ever. In honor of A-Rod's career, here are the 15 richest contracts in baseball history (based on total value per Cot's).
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Jason Heyward: 8 years, $184 million (tie)
Coming off a 2015 season in which Heyward hit .293/.359/.439 and accounted for six wins above replacement with the St. Louis Cardinals, the Chicago Cubs rewarded him with $184 million over eight years. Heyward hasn’t been the player so far in 2016 the Cubs paid all that money for, but he’s only 26 years old, giving the Cubs hope they can recoup the value.
APCharles Rex Arbogast
Joe Mauer: 8 years, $184 million (tie)
After the 2010 season, the Minnesota Twins wanted to ensure Mauer would be a Twin for life, so they locked him up to a $184 million deal – the largest in MLB history for a catcher and fourth-largest overall at the time -- that runs through the 2018 season. Mauer has fought injuries and contributed only 14.9 WAR so far in the five-plus seasons since.
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Derek Jeter: 10 years, $189 million
Before the ’01 season, the Yankees rewarded one of the most iconic players in franchise history with a $189 million deal, the second-largest in the history of pro sports at the time, and they’d never regret it. Jeter remained one of baseball’s best players through the life of the contract, with him racking up 6.6 WAR in 2009, a year that ended in another Yankees World Series title.
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Zack Greinke: 6 years, $206.5 million
Greinke checks in at “only” No. 12 on this list with the deal the Arizona Diamondbacks gave him this past offseason, but he can claim an even more impressive stat: Worth over $34 million per season, Greinke’s deal ranks as the largest in MLB history based on average annual value.
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Max Scherzer: 7 years, $210 million
The following spring after winning the 2013 American League Cy Young, Scherzer was reportedly offered a six-year, $144 million contract extension from the Detroit Tigers. He turned it down, instead betting on himself that he’d make it through the 2014 season healthy and productive and then enter the free agent market that winter. It worked, as Scherzer was again one of the A.L.’s best starters and then got a $210 million deal from the Washington Nationals starting in 2015.
Getty ImagesGreg Fiume
Prince Fielder: 9 years, $214 million
Few things are as valuable on the open market as perennial power production, and Fielder got the Detroit Tigers to give him $214 million before the 2012 season. He played two seasons in Detroit and then was traded to the Texas Rangers, where he has not been the same guy. Luckily for Texas, Detroit chipped in $30 million in the trade to help offset some of the contract.
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Clayton Kershaw: 7 years, $215 million
Kershaw has the ninth-largest deal in MLB history without ever hitting the free-agent market. In 2014, Kershaw and L.A. avoided arbitration by signing a seven-year extension worth $215 million, and Kershaw responded by continuing to be the best starting pitcher on the planet. He can opt out of the deal after 2018, when he’ll be 30 years old, to sign another huge deal if he chooses.
Getty ImagesJim McIsaac
David Price: 7 years, $217 million
Speaking of Kershaw, 30-year-old David Price got a $217 million deal last offseason from the Red Sox, and if that is any precedent then Kershaw would have every right to ask for more than Price’s deal when the time comes.
Getty ImagesMichael Ivins/Boston Red Sox
Joey Votto: 10 years, $225 million
Given their market and resources, the Cincinnati Reds will never have the same access to talent as the richest teams in the sport. After drafting and developing Votto, they decided to spend big on a guy they thought could be a lifer in Cincinnati. In 2012, the Reds gave Votto a 10-year deal that would go into effect with the 2014 season, and so far under that deal Votto has had one season marred by injury, one monster season (7.4 WAR in 2015) and is in the middle of a good-but-not-225-million-good season.
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Robinson Cano: 10 years, $240 million (tie)
Of all the teams to give $240 million to someone, you’d think the Yankees would be on the short list to do it. Instead, New York let Cano walk after the 2013 season when the Seattle Mariners gave him this eight-year deal. Now in the Pacific Northwest, Cano is sort of off the grid compared to the spotlight of New York, but he’s still churning out star-quality production.
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Albert Pujols: 10 years, $240 million (tie)
Tied with Cano at No. 5 overall, Pujols signed one of the most spectacular deals in MLB history after the 2011 season when he left St. Louis for the Angels. Pujols WAS the Cardinals, so it was odd seeing him go, but privately St. Louis fans would admit it was for the best. Pujols has never come close with the Angels to resembling the phenom he was in St. Louis, and the Angels will never get proper value from this contract. That’ll be a side note when it’s all over, though, as Pujols will go down as one of the best hitters of all time.
Getty ImagesG Fiume
Miguel Cabrera: 8 years, $248 million
It’s a bit shocking to look at Miguel Cabrera and realize, at 33 years old, he’s only in the first year of this eight-year extension he signed in 2014, but here we are. It will become dead weight on the Tigers’ books at some point down the road -- just like Alex Rodriguez’s salary had become for the Yankees -- but that day is presumably still a while off. By then, the Tigers hope they’ve won a World Series, at which point they’ll happily eat every last dollar of Cabrera’s deal.
Getty ImagesLeon Halip
Alex Rodriguez: 10 years, $252 million
How incredible of a talent (and businessman) is Alex Rodriguez? He holds TWO of the three richest contracts in MLB history. The first came before the 2001 season, when the Texas Rangers gave the star shortstop $252 million, obliterating all contract records in professional sports history. Mind you, this was 15 years ago, an era in which the owners of the Rangers had paid $250 million combined for the franchise and its stadium just two years prior.
Getty ImagesRonald Martinez
Alex Rodriguez: 10 years, $275 million
A-Rod didn’t technically complete his first mega-contract, because it allowed him to opt out after the 2007 season (which he did during the middle of the World Series, causing a stir). The Yankees, who had acquired him in a trade with Texas in 2004, then lavished their king with his most recent $275 million deal. All told, A-Rod has earned roughly $378 million in on-field earnings in his career.
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Giancarlo Stanton: 13 years, $325 million
If you thought A-Rod’s contracts were gaudy, we present you Giancarlo Stanton and his 13-year, $325 million extension the Miami Marlins gave him prior to the 2015 season. The deal is heavily backloaded (Stanton is owed $9 million in ’16 and $14.5 million in ’17 before it kicks up to $25 million in ’18) and Stanton can opt out after 2020, so it’s possible the Marlins are never required to pay the full amount. For now, though, it’s the richest contract on the books in MLB history. Now let’s see what Bryce Harper gets.