MLB: Bryce Harper and the Other Biggest Contracts in Baseball History

It’s a good time to be an elite baseball player. Three of the biggest contracts in baseball history in terms of total dollars were signed early in 2019. While it’s usually dominant pitchers drawing top yearly sums (see Zac Greinke’s 2015 deal earning him $34.4 million per year), the lengthy contracts this year are for field players.

Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado, and Bryce Harper all signed nine-figure deals, but where do they rank among the biggest contracts in baseball history?

6. Miguel Cabrera hopes to stay healthy

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Miguel Cabrera’s eight-year, $248 million deal with the Tigers in 2016 was actually an extension of his 2008 contract. With two years and $44 million left, Detroit wanted to lock him up. The extension takes him to the age of 40 and averages $31 million per year.

Cabrera has suffered from injuries late in his career. In 2017, back problems took their toll. In June 2018, he suffered a biceps tendon rupture in his left arm that knocked him out for the season. But considering he was, at the time, the greatest hitter in the game having won the AL MVP award the two previous years, we can’t fault the Tigers for shelling out big bucks.

5. Arenado remains in Colorado

The Rockies locked up their franchise third baseman for a few more years with his 8-year $260 million extension before the 2019 season. The soon-to-be 28-year-old was a second-round pick for the Rockies in 2009, and they didn’t want to lose him.

Arenado is a four-time All-Star having earned six Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers during his six years in the majors. He could have gone the way of free agency, but it appears he wants to end his career with the Rockies.

4. Alex Rodriguez signed two high-earning contracts

A-Rod played in the majors for 22 seasons, and he earned three AL MVPs, 10 Silver Sluggers, two Gold Gloves, and14 trips to the All-Star game. He also signed two of the biggest contracts in baseball history.

The first was a $252 million contract from 2001-2010 with the Texas Rangers, and the other was $275 million deal from 2008-2017, according to Baseball Prospectus.

The third baseman sat out the 2014 season having been found guilty of violating the MLB performance enhancing drugs policy. Upon his return in 2015, he slotted into the Yankees designated hitter role, and he played with the through August 2017.

3. Manny Machado picked up by Padres

Manny Machado ranks third on our list of the biggest contracts in baseball history, but he’s No. 1 on another list. He received the largest contract the Padres have ever awarded at $300 million for 10 years.

Machado earned his way to the Big Leagues with a debut for the Orioles in 2012, starting at first base at 20 years old. He earned a spot on the AL All-Star team the following year and three more times after that. Machado has two Gold Gloves at third base, which is where the Padres almost surely intend to use him.

2. Giancarlo Stanton’s Marlins contract

There are a few things to factor into Giancarlo’s contract with the Marlins from 2014. At the time, he was 25. He had played his rookie year with the Marlins in 2010 at 20 years old, and he was the team’s primary right fielder.

Stanton progressed to be among the game’s best by November 2014. Despite being out after taking a pitch to the face, he netted his 13-year $325 million deal that remains one of the biggest contracts in baseball history. The contract contained a no-trade clause for Stanton which required his agreement for any trade deal. After vetoing potential trades to the Cardinals and Giants in 2017, the NL MVP agreed on a trade to the Yankees, where he plays today.

1. Bryce Harper signs with Phillies

It’s not only the largest MLB contract ever, but Harper signed the largest professional sports contract when he went to Philadelphia. The right fielder’s $25.3 million salary isn’t tops in baseball, but the 13-year contract with the Phillies garners the highest ever total contract. Not bad for a 26-year-old.

Harper racked up the accolades during his six seasons with the Nationals. He earned 2012 Rookie of the Year honors, and he was the unanimous NL MVP in 2015, being the youngest player to have earned the award at 23 years old.