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Who Has Earned Their $ – And Who Has Not: The Top MLB Contracts Of All – Time Part 1 of 10

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Saturday Aug.10/2013

Mike Piazza has been linked to admission of using PED's during.  his career.  This will probably not go down favorably with the BBWAA.  Mike Piazza hit 427 HRs in his MLB Career (397 as a Catcher) to go along with a .308 Avg and 1335 RBI.

Mike Piazza has been linked to admission of using PED’s during. his career. This will probably not go down favorably with the BBWAA towards an entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Mike Piazza hit 427 HRs in his MLB Career (397 as a Catcher) to go along with a .308 Avg and 1335 RBI. From 1999 – 2005, he signed a 7 YR/$91 MIL deal with the New York Mets after being acquired from the Miami Marlins.  He was full value for the franchise, hitting for a 3 Slash Line of .296/.373/.915.  In the 7 years of his deal, he blasted 197 HRs and drove in 579 RBI – despite missing half of the 2003 year.  He was the most prolific hitting Catcher during the era.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

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)

Barry Bonds had just come off of his record 74 HR performance in 2001, when the Giants signed him to a 5 YR/$90 MIL contract.  From 2002 - 2004, Bonds won 3 straight NL MVPs, 2 batting titles, led his team to the 2002 World Series (falling just short to the Angels), The man has OPS's of 1.381/1.278/1.422 in those 3 years respectively,  He hit 136 HRs, had 301 RBI, Walked 578 times - while only fanning just 136 times.  Steroids aside, no one has ever been locked in like this guy during this time frame.

Barry Bonds had just come off of his record 73 HR performance in 2001, when the Giants signed him to a 5 YR/$90 MIL contract. From 2002 – 2004, Bonds won 3 straight NL MVPs, 2 Batting Titles, led his team to the 2002 World Series Loss (falling just short to the Angels in 7 games), The man had OPS’s of 1.381/1.278/1.422 in those 3 years respectively, He hit 136 HRs, had 301 RBI, Walked 578 times – while only fanning just 136 instances. Steroids aside, no one has ever been locked in like this guy was during this time frame.

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)

Torii Hunter was a franchise player for the Minnesota Twins for the 1st 11 years of his career - Slashing for  a clip of .271/.324/.793 - wit7 straight Gold Gloves.  Hunter was even better in Anaheim, going .296/.352/.814 in his 5 YR/$90 MIL deal.

Torii Hunter was a franchise player for the Minnesota Twins in the 1st 11 years of his career – Slashing for a clip of .271/.324/.793 – with 7 straight Gold Gloves. Hunter was even better in Anaheim, going .296/.352/.814 in his 5 YR/$90 MIL deal.

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, seen here mentoring Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman, was at the tail end of the 14 straight NL East Division Titles for this given contract.  He was the premiere switch hitting slugger in the MLB, and his all around game helped the Braves dominate the NL East

Chipper Jones, seen here mentoring Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman, was at the tail end of the 14 straight NL East Division Titles for this given contract. He was the premiere switch hitting slugger in the MLB, and his all around game helped the Braves dominate the NL East. His 6 year contract was definitely earned despite a slow 2005 year.  Even that year he had an OPS of .832.

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)

Scott Rolen was traded to the Cardinals in 2002, before signing an 8 YR$90 MIL extension.  The 3B would go onto play for the Blue Jays and Reds for the rest of the deal after leaving St. Louis.  The man played Gold Glove caliber defense while in the lineup - however he suffered multiple shoulder injuries - hampering his ability to stay healthy.

Scott Rolen was traded to the Cardinals in 2002, before signing an 8 YR$90 MIL extension. The Third Baseman would go onto play for the Blue Jays and Reds for the rest of the deal after leaving St. Louis. The man played Gold Glove caliber defense while in the lineup – however he suffered multiple shoulder injuries – hampering his ability to stay on the field.

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)

Ichiro Suzuki is tied with Pete Rose for most 200-Hit Seasons a MLB Career with 10.  Suzuki accomplished the feat in consecutive years from 2001-2010).  He was signed to a 5 YR/$90 MIL deal from 2008 - 2012 - where he hit 1014 base knocks between Seattle - and a half of season in New York,  While he was slowing down, the 1st 3 years of the deal he hit over .300 - and clubbed 200+ hits per campaign.

Ichiro Suzuki is tied with Pete Rose for most 200-Hit Seasons a MLB Career with 10. Suzuki accomplished the feat in consecutive years from 2001-2010). He was signed to a 5 YR/$90 MIL deal from 2008 – 2012 – where he hit 1014 base knocks between Seattle – and a half of season in New York, While he was slowing down, the 1st 3 years of the deal he hit over .300 – and clubbed 200+ hits per campaign.  While writing this article, he is only 8 hits short of the 4000 Hits mark for a professional. I would clearly say that he earned his $$$

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.

Mike Piazza was stellar in the 2000 playoff run for the Mets, collecting 4 HRs and driving in 8 RBI in just 39 AB between the NLCS and World Series of that year.  He was clutch, hit big HRs, survived the New York Media was grace and his endearing personality,  He should have his number retired by the Mets one day.

Mike Piazza was stellar in the 2000 playoff run for the Mets, collecting 4 HRs and driving in 8 RBI in just 39 AB between the NLCS and World Series. He was clutch, had thunderous big flies, survived the New York Media, was graceful and his endearing personality went over well in Flushing, NY, He should have his number retired by the Mets one day. In his 1st full season with New York, the big Catcher from Norristown, PA, tied career bests with 40 HRs and 124 RBI.  Piazza carried a .300+ Avg for his 1st four years of this salary – and also held an OPS north of .900 for the exact same time frame.

*** 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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About chuckbooth3023

I played competitive baseball until 18 years old and had offers to play NCAA Division 1 University Baseball at Liberty University. Post-concussion symptoms from previous football and baseball head injuries forced me to retire by age 19. After two nearly made World Record Attempts in 2008, I set a New World Record by visiting all 30 MLB Parks (from 1st to last pitch) in only 24 Calendar Days in the summer 0f 2009. In April of 2012, I established yet another new GWR by visiting all 30 Parks in only 23 Calendar Days! You can see the full schedule at the page of the www.mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker . In 2015, I watched 224 MLB Games, spanning all 30 MLB Parks in 183 Days. Read about that World Record Journey at https://mlbreports.com/183in2015/229sked2015/

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