Pitcher Kevin Brown was baseball’s first player to break the nine-figure barrier, signing a six-year, $105 million contract with the Dodgers in 1999. Two years later, three players cracked $150 million: Yankees captain Derek Jeter (10 years, $189 million), Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez (seven years, $160 million) and Rangers third baseman Alex Rodriguez (10 years, $252 million). Deals worth at least $100 million are now so common, we'll limit our look at the active players who have benefited most from baseball opening its vaults — the game's $150 million men.
Source: Cot's Baseball Contracts
Miguel Cabrera, $152.3 million, 8 years
The Tigers landed the biggest Marlin at the end of 2007, acquiring the slugger in another Florida fire sale. The Venezuelan first baseman led the AL in homers in 2008, won the Triple Crown and AL MVP in 2012 and has averaged 36.6 homers and 120 RBI in his five years in Detroit.
Adrian Gonzalez, $160.3 million, 8 years
The Boston Red Sox agreed to a seven-year, $154 million contract extension with their star first baseman on April 15, 2011, after acquiring him in December from the Padres. The extension took effect in 2012. The deal completed an expensive four-month period for the team, which included a seven-year, $142 million contract for free-agent left fielder Carl Crawford. The Red Sox waited until after Opening Day to formalize the Gonzalez agreement in an attempt to avoid luxury-tax fees. But in August 2012, the struggling Red Sox traded Gonzalez and Crawford, along with pitcher Josh Beckett and infielder Nick Punto to the free-spending Los Angeles Dodgers.
Troy Tulowitzki, $157.75 million, 10 years
The Rockies like to lock up their stars for a lifetime. Seeing as how Tulo will be close to 37 when his contract with Colorado expires, the Mile High City could very well be the only baseball home the shortstop ever knows. The Rockies — who also signed stars Carlos Gonzalez and Jorge De La Rosa — are counting on all these long-term investments to pay off with future postseason success.
Matt Kemp, $160 million, 8 years
After the season that their center fielder had in 2011, the Dodgers weren't about to let him get away. The team and Kemp agreed to an eight-year, $160 million extension. The Dodgers suffered through ownership woes all season and, after divorcing wife Jamie and having MLB step in to run the team, Frank McCourt was finally forced to sell the team. Kemp was one of the few bright spots during an otherwise forgettable year: He hit .324 with personal highs of 39 home runs, 126 RBI and 40 stolen bases. His .586 slugging percentage and .986 OPS were also career highs. Kemp has produced 151 homers and a .295 batting average in 893 career games. He is also a two-time Gold Glove winner. At the time of the extension, Kemp had one season left on a contract that paid him $7.1 million in 2011.
CC Sabathia, $161 million, 7 years
The Yanks play with Monopoly money: Sabathia wasn’t even the only $150 mil deal they handed out in their 2008 offseason spending spree — Mark Teixeira also passed Go and collected $180 million. The Yankees needed a new ace, so they made Sabathia, the 2007 American League Cy Young Award winner, the richest pitcher in history. He went 19-8 in 2009, was MVP of the ALCS and helped the Yanks to another World Series championship. He won at least 19 games in each of his first three seasons in New York, before going 15-6 in 2012. Wise investment.
Buster Posey, $167 million, 9 years
On March 29, 2013, the San Francisco Giants locked up their MVP catcher with an eight-year, $159 million extension. He was under contract for 2013 at $8 million, so his total deal is nine years at $167 million, or $18.55 million per year. Posey's contract, at the time, was the longest ever for a catcher and largest contract in Giants history. In addition, Posey's total guarantee of $167M was a record for a player with fewer than three years of service time and a record for a player with fewer than four years of service time.
Felix Hernandez, $175 million, 7 years
The Seattle Mariners know a good thing when they see it. On Feb. 7, 2013, they locked up starter Felix Hernandez with a seven-year extension worth $175 million. That's $25 million per year for the pitcher who threw a perfect game in 2012.
Mark Teixeira, $180 million, 8 years
The Yankees nabbed the prized free agent of the offseason in December 2008 when they signed Teixiera, who was coming off a solid second half with the Angels. One of the best first basemen in the game, Tex led the American League in homers (39) and RBI (122) in 2009 and helped the Yanks to another World Series championship.
Justin Verlander, $180 million, 7 years
On March 29, 2013, the Tigers ace signed a five-year contract extension for $140 million. Adding in his pre-existing deal — at $20 million per in 2013 and 2014 — it brings the total guaranteed value of Verlander's deal to $180 million through 2019. The contract also includes an option for the 2020 season worth $22 million, which could raise the deal’s total value to $202 million over eight years.
Joe Mauer, $184 million, 8 years
Was that really small-market Minnesota spending money like the Yankees? Well, when you have a homegrown All-Star who catches and leads the league in hitting, you mortgage the farm to keep him. The Twins extended him through 2018 after he was named the 2009 American League MVP. The pride of St. Paul struggled in 2011, as did the Twins.
Prince Fielder, $214 million, 9 years
The Detroit Tigers came out of seemingly nowhere to sign prized free agent Prince Fielder in January 2012. Fielder, 27, had been a rumored target of many teams before the Tigers swooped in and made him baseball's third $200 million man, behind only the Angels' Albert Pujols and the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez. Batting after — and protecting — Miguel Cabrera in Detroit's 2012 lineup, Fielder helped Miggy win the first Triple Crown since 1967 and the AL MVP as the Tigers won the AL pennant before falling to the Giants in the World Series.
Joey Votto, $225 million, 10 years
On April 2, 2012, Votto, the 2010 NL MVP, signed a 10-year, $225 million deal that takes him through 2023. It was the fourth largest deal in MLB history and Votto became the third first baseman in four months to eclipse the $200 million mark, following Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. Votto's average annual salary is $22.5 million.
Albert Pujols, $240 million, 10 years
The Los Angeles Angels shocked the baseball world at the winter meetings in 2011, reaching an agreement with free-agent first baseman Albert Pujols on a guaranteed $240 million, 10-year contract. The slugger's deal includes a personal-services agreement worth at least another $10 million. Pujols, 31, received a full no-trade clause. His contract, befitting the game's premier player, will be the second-highest in major league history, behind Alex Rodriguez’s 10-year, $275 million deal.
Alex Rodriguez, $275 million, 10 years
Rodriguez hit the lottery twice. In 2000, the Texas Rangers gave him a $252 million, 10-year deal, which was the biggest contract in sports history (nearly $63 million more than the next-richest deal). They then promptly collapsed under the weight of it. Desperate to get out from under the deal, Texas traded A-Rod to the Yankees in 2004. A-Rod, who moved from shortstop to third base when he went to the Yankees, upped the ante again in 2007. After winning his second MVP in four years in New York, A-Rod opted out of his old deal and negotiated a new contract (without his agent Scott Boras) with the Yankees for 10 years, again setting a record for the biggest contract in baseball history.
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