Who Has Earned Their $ – And Who Has Not: The Top MLB Contracts Of All – Time Part 1 of 10
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By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): Follow @chuckbooth3024
In doing a recent article about the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays ways of contracts, I thought I would delve into some of the biggest contracts of ALL – Time – in order to dissect them.
I have decided to break the articles up into a 10 part series that will go through the top 53 contracts in the history of the MLB. We are going to count backwards.
Each week for the next 2 months, there will be a post over the weekend with a set of 5 or 6 players.
At the MLB Reports, we are committed to being the best overall payroll/roster/depth chart/state of the union site for each club. Bookmark our page dedicated for keeping track of this here.
Signing high 8 or 9 digit Salaries is a risky business that can cripple a franchise for many years. I mean who wouldn’t want to shed themselves of the biggest Free Agency contracts of late.
I think once we have gone through these all, you will see most of them have not lived up to the value they did – when they first received their deals.
Billy Beane, The A’s Management, The Rays front office and the Braves have been the best run franchises in terms of not making horrendous mistakes.
I have to give the ultimate edge to the A’s and Rays because of B.J. Upton‘s current 5 YR/$75 MIL contract looks to be the worst FA signing ever presently, he fell just short of being in this list.’
Tied for #49 are 5 players, and the 48 th biggest contract belongs to Mike Piazza.
Mike Piazza Post 9/11 HR
T49. Barry Bonds, SF: $90,000,000 (2002 – 2006)
Yes it will be tainted, but the video game numbers that Bonds put up were incredible. He did have an injury riddled 2005, no doubt suffering the effect of PED use.
In 2006, Bonds came back to club 23 HRs and 77 RBI in just 376 AB again. His OBP was .454. Not as good as the 2002 mark of .582, 2003 clip of .529 and the incredible .609 OPS put up in 2004.
Those numbers in 2004 were the best OPS and OBP ever for a single season.
In the 2002 Playoffs, Bonds hit for a 3 Slash of .356/.581/1.556 – with 8 HRs and 16 RBI in his 17 Games Played. He was walked 28 times in that PostSeason (including Intentionally being waved 13 times.
He earned his contract – and was full value for the $ Total. Bonds may have been extremely controversial and adversarial, however no one can dispute the value he had towards the SF Giants franchise.
T49 Torii Hunter, LAA: $90,000,000 (2008 – 2012)
It was a risky move at the time for the LA Angels. Hunter was turning 32 in 2008. He was fresh off a career year with Minnesota the year before, however he would be in his mid 30’s when the deal was done.
Hunter provided a great top of the lineup – and was a mainstay for the Angels year in and year out. His leadership helped the club transition losses to the organization of Mark Teixeira and Vladimir Guerrero.
Maybe his value has been shown this year with his absence.
$18 MIL per year for a guy who hit just north of 100 HRs in his stay there does seem a bit pricey. I am going to call this one a draw though, considering his magnificent defense.
T49 Chipper Jones, ATL: $90,000,000 (2001 – 2006)
Chipper Jones was the quintessential blue chip prospect. This man knew nothing except for winning, The franchise had John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and a heavy dose of Greg Maddux for the duration of the reign.
Jones was there from 1995 – 2005, leading the team to 3 World Series Births, and cashing in one one with his rookie campaign.
We are looking at his 2001 – 2006 years, in which he had 121 HRs and 404 RBI from 2001 – 2004. In this span, he only made 1 ALL – Star Game – which is just mind-boggling and wrong.
Being a player who would routinely be in the high .900’s for OPS, and considering his team’s success throughout the life of this deal, Larry Jones made good on this contract!
T49: Scott Rolen, STL, TOR + CIN: $90,000,000 (2003 – 2010)
This one is a tough one to rate. The 2003 and 2004 looked like the 3B was poised to have a Baseball Hall Of Fame Career, he made two straight All -Star Appearances and won 2 Gold Gloves.
You can add 62 HRs and 228 RBI in that spell too. Perhaps his best year as a player was in 2004, with a 3 Slash of .314/.409/1.007. He was looking like he was going to earn that 8 year contract.
A slowed down 2005, followed by a brutal shoulder injury, meant the man from Evansville Indiana (also the home of my favorite player of ALL – Time Don Mattingly) would never be the same,
He would never drive in 100 RBI, or club 30 HRs again. He as a part of a World Series winner on St. Louis in 2007, and made several contributions to a young Reds team in a 2010 NL Central DIvision clinching effort.
All the while his defense remained incredible (again similar to Mattingly having his career plagued with a bad injury), with just an average of $10.25 MIL per year, I would have to say he was valuable enough to justify the amount of his extension.
T49: Ichiro Suzuki, SEA, NYY: $90,000,000 (2008 – 2012)
For those people who say that Ichiro Suzuki is overrated, shame on you!! All this guy does is hit. He is a machine, and I venture to say, that with maybe the exception of Tony Gwynn, nobody has ever had the kind of bat control.
The man is a Career .321 hitter – and he played all of his career home games at Safeco Field!!
For this contract, I will say that he earned every cent of it. Lets just forget that his averages slipped in the last few years. He only missed 16 games in those 5 years.
The man from Japan, also had 180 SB – carrying him through ages 34 – 38. If he played on any either team except for the Mariners for his career, he would be more celebrated.
#48. Mike Piazza $91,000,000, NYM: (1999 – 2005)
Piazza backed up the deal he signed with the kind of stability that made the Mets relative in the National League again. They made it all the way to the 2000 World Series on his back – before losing to the crosstown Yankees.
He was a 6 Time ALL – Star and 4 time Silver Slugger Award Winner in the NL with the Mets. Piazza also finished in the top 10 voting twice for NL MVP.
While his numbers were slightly larger in Los Angeles, one can’t dispute that he didn’t earn every penny in the Big Apple.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners.***
Chuck Booth – Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner and author of the Fastest 30 Ballgames: To learn more about my “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book” and how to purchase it, click here .
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Posted on August 10, 2013, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged 2000 World Series, 2002 World Series, 2004 World Series, 2007 World Series, 9/11, anaheim angels, at n t park, Atlanta Braves, b.j. upton, barry bonds, billy beane, Chuck Booth. fastest 30 ballgames, cincinnati reds, don mattingly, ichiro suzuki, la dodgers, mark teixeira, mike piazza, minnesota twins, new york mets, new york yankees, nl mvp, safeco field, san francisco giants, scott rolen, Shea Stadium, tampa bay rays, tony gwynn, Torii Hunter, toronto blue jays, twitter @chuckbooth3024, Vladmir Guerrero. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.