While there is unfortunately no baseball being played during the winter months, we normally have the Hot Stove to keep us warm with endless rumors and huge contracts being handed out by teams who will inevitably regret it. Until this past winter, that is.
The free agent market just wasn’t any good, and Yoenis Cespedes was the only player on the open market to secure a guarantee above $100 million (four years, $110 million, to be exact). Heck, we saw Chris Carter and Mark Trumbo, who led their respective leagues in homers last year, bring home a collective guarantee of just $41 million despite launching a total of 88 bombs.
This past winter was the first time since 2009 any team didn’t break a franchise record by rewarding a player with a monumental mound of cash. However, there’s been plenty of damage done in this category since the turn of the century.
Here are the players who have signed the richest contracts for each MLB team.
|Arizona Diamondbacks||Zack Greinke||6 years, $206.5 million|
|Atlanta Braves||Freddie Freeman||8 year, $135 million|
|Baltimore Orioles||Chris Davis||7 years, $161 million|
|Boston Red Sox||David Price||7 years, $217 million|
|Chicago Cubs||Jason Heyward||8 years, $184 million|
|Chicago White Sox||Jose Abreu||6 years, $68 million|
|Cincinnati Reds||Joey Votto||10 years, $225 million|
|Cleveland Indians||Edwin Encarnacion||3 years, $60 million|
|Colorado Rockies||Troy Tulowitzki||10 years, $157.75 million|
|Detroit Tigers||Miguel Cabrera||8 years, $248 million|
|Houston Astros||Carlos Lee||6 years, $100 million|
|Kansas City Royals||Alex Gordon||4 years, $72 million|
|Los Angeles Angels||Albert Pujols||10 years, $240 million|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Clayton Kershaw||7 years, $215 million|
|Miami Marlins||Giancarlo Stanton||13 years, $325 million|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Ryan Braun||5 years, $105 million|
|Minnesota Twins||Joe Mauer||8 years, $184 million|
|New York Mets||David Wright||8 years, $138 million|
|New York Yankees||Alex Rodriguez||10 years, $275 million|
|Oakland Athletics||Eric Chavez||6 years, $66 million|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Cole Hamels||6 years, $144 million|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Jason Kendall||6 years, $60 million|
|San Diego Padres||Eric Hosmer||8 years, $144 million|
|San Francisco Giants||Buster Posey||9 years, $167 million|
|Seattle Mariners||Robinson Cano||10 years, $240 million|
|St. Louis Cardinals||Matt Holliday||7 years, $120 million|
|Tampa Bay Rays||Evan Longoria||6 years, $100 million|
|Texas Rangers||Alex Rodriguez||10 years, $252 million|
|Toronto Blue Jays||Vernon Wells||7 years, $126 million|
|Washington Nationals||Max Scherzer||7 years, $210 million|
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That sure is a lot of money, and a lot of contracts teams would probably like to forget. Here are a few takeaways and thoughts about all the money and years that have been handed out to the above 29 players (of course A-Rod’s on here twice).
— Seven of these players (Tulo, Stanton, Shields, Hamels, Lee, Wells and Rodriguez’s deal with Texas) didn’t (or won’t) finish their contract with the actual team they signed it with.
— In fact, A-Rod didn’t finish either monstrous deal he signed on the field with the team he signed it with — he just didn’t move on from the Yankees.
— There are 5 deals worth less than $100 million, 14 worth less than $200 million and and 11 worth more than $200 million.
— Of the deals on this list that have been completed, it’s safe to assume the Cardinals were satisfied with their investment in Holliday. However, the Dodgers, Nationals, Braves and Giants could all be feeling the same way once the contracts with their respective players are done.
— The White Sox are actually off the hook with Abreu, but only because he opted into arbitration this past winter. So, they may end up being on the hook for more than that $68 million by the time it’s all said and done.
— Upon signing on the dotted line last winter, Price set a record for the most total money given to a pitcher, while Greinke set a record for highest annual average value. If both teams could do it all over again, it’s doubtful they’d agree to the same terms.
— If we expand that further, there were five teams who broke franchise records to sign the above players prior to the 2016 season (Arizona, Boston, Baltimore, Kansas City and the Cubs).
Teams are clearly changing how they value and sign players, and some of that could be because of all the headaches the above long-term deals have caused over the years. Since this past winter’s free agent market wasn’t all that great, it was easy to hold firm and not make a decision they’d eventually regret.
It’ll get harder in the coming years, and specifically when players like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado hit the open market. We’ll see if the trend will continue into future years, or if this past winter was more of an outlier than anything else.
About Matt Musico
Matt Musico currently manages Chin Music Baseball, contributes to The Sports Daily and is also an editor for numberFire. He has written for FanDuel Insider and Bleacher Report in the past. He’s a lover of all baseball, especially the Mets.