12/08/11 7:32 PM EST
Pujols' deal lands him on top 10 list
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
Pujols' 10-year deal worth between $250 million and $260 million cracked the upper echelon of the top contracts in baseball history, moving in at No. 2 all-time behind only Rodriguez's current deal with the Yankees.
There are always risks when signing a player to a contract of significant length and astronomical value. All clubs in position to make such a move desire an impact player who can take them to the next level while, in many cases, increasing attendance. But those players come at a supreme cost, and thus, they bring potential danger.
Throughout MLB history, lucrative contracts have been a mixed bag. But of the most lucrative deals -- many of which involve the Yankees -- most have in fact been pretty beneficial.
With the addition of Pujols, here's a glance at the 10 players -- including A-Rod twice -- who have signed the biggest contracts in baseball history:
Alex Rodriguez: 10 years, $275 million (Yankees, 2008-17)
The best part of this deal for A-Rod? During his age-42 season, the Yankees' third baseman will be getting paid $20 million. The fourth year of this contract, which amounts to a virtual extension of his deal with the Rangers, was the first one to give pause, as A-Rod was limited to 99 games this past season after undergoing knee surgery at age 36. In the first four years of this deal, A-Rod hit .284 with an average of 28 homers and 98 RBIs per season. But he hit .308 while averaging 43 homers and 124 RBIs from 1996-2007, so there's been some decline, to be sure. Shortly after the deal was signed, A-Rod was involved in a highly publicized steroids controversy, but he was also a big part of New York's '09 World Series championship.
|Here are the 30 contracts of more than $100 million that have been signed since Kevin Brown's deal first broke the barrier in 1999 (asterisks identify contract extensions).|
|Ken Griffey Jr.||CIN||$116.5M||2000-08*|
|Sources: Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Associated Press and MLB.com archives|
The stunning move by Pujols to the West Coast means he'll be making a lot of money into his 40s, as well. He'll be 41 in the final year of this contract, perhaps serving as a designated hitter by then. Health and age will be the major factors in this deal, but the DH role could be helpful over time, starting in 2012. Pujols' numbers did slip a bit this past season -- his OPS dropping from 1.011 to .906 -- but he still hit 37 homers and drove in 99 and set off a three-homer display in Game 3 of the Cardinals' victorious World Series. Some slip. He's the best in the game, until he's not.
Rodriguez: 10 years, $252 million (Rangers/Yankees, 2001-10)
Former Rangers owner Tom Hicks broke the bank for a 25-year-old A-Rod, because the slugger was one of the best hitters in the game and a spectacular defensive player at a premium position (at that time, shortstop). But years after the fact, Hicks said arguably the most historic deal in Major League history was "one of the dumb things" he had done in his life. A-Rod was incredibly productive for the Rangers -- winning an American League MVP Award, two AL Gold Glove Awards and hitting .305 with 156 homers and 395 RBIs in the first three years -- but the team finished fourth in the AL West and no better than 16 games below .500 from 2001-03.
Derek Jeter: 10 years, $189 million (Yankees, 2001-10)
The captain was never allowed to hit free agency -- at least not until the 2010 offseason, when he eventually signed for three years at $51 million. The Yankees, coming off three straight World Series championships following the 2000 season, signed him to this deal when he was 26 and in his final year of arbitration. Jeter slowed a bit toward the very end of this contract, but it wound up being a win-win. During that time, Jeter averaged 151 games per season, batted .310 with a .380 on-base percentage, won five AL Gold Glove Awards, made eight All-Star Game appearances -- and the Yankees won a World Series.
Joe Mauer: Eight years, $184 million (Twins, 2011-18)
Widely considered the best catcher in baseball, Mauer signed the largest contract for a man at his position in March 2010, just before his final season prior to hitting the free-agent market. The past two seasons have been a valley for Mauer, signed until his age-35 season. After he hit .328 with an .886 OPS while averaging 134 games in his first six full seasons, the Twins felt they had to lock Mauer up. But physical setbacks -- from leg weakness to a stiff neck to pneumonia -- led to career lows in batting average (.287), on-base percentage (.360), slugging percentage (.368) and home runs (three) in just 82 games in 2011. It was a risk in a few ways, like the Twins being a mid-market team and Mauer being a catcher. Mauer and the Twins are hoping for a major rebound next season.
Mark Teixeira: Eight years, $180 million (Yankees, 2009-16)
Arguably the biggest offseason in the biggest-spending franchise's history culminated with this contract, one that put the multitalented first basemen in pinstripes. Teixeira, who will be 36 by the time this deal expires, had a great first year in the Bronx, batting .292 with a league-leading 39 homers and 122 RBIs en route to a World Series championship, and he has delivered two more strong years at the plate, his average dropping but his power numbers steady. Considering he's durable, agile and among the best defensive first basemen in the game, New York figures to get good value out of this deal.
Angels sign Pujols, Wilson
CC Sabathia: Seven years, $161 million (Yankees, 2009-15)
The Yankees landed their current ace two offseasons ago with the largest contract for a starting pitcher, one that pays him $23 million annually from 2010-15. Sabathia signed an extension this winter that takes him to '16 with a vesting option for '17, when he'll be 37. Long-term deals for pitchers are risky, but Sabathia has notched 230-plus innings in five straight seasons and has shown no signs of breaking down.
Matt Kemp: Eight years, $160 million (Dodgers, 2012-19)
After an MVP-caliber season that showed all of his great promise in one superb campaign, Kemp notched the biggest contract in Dodgers history in a deal that will cover him until he's 35 years old. He's coming off a career year in which he hit .324 with 39 home runs and 126 RBIs and won the Rawlings NL Gold Glove Award and NL Silver Slugger Award while challenging for the Triple Crown in the last season of a two-year, $11.1 million deal. If he can stay close to that kind of production for several more years, both sides will be happy with the big contract.
Manny Ramirez: Eight years, $160 million (Red Sox/Dodgers, 2001-08)
Despite Ramirez's off-field -- and sometimes on-field -- antics, the Red Sox wound up getting good value out of this deal, which landed Ramirez in Boston after six spectacular seasons in Cleveland. Put all those "Manny being Manny" moments aside and consider: Ramirez hit .313 with 254 homers and 800 RBIs in his first seven seasons of the deal, and the Red Sox broke an 86-year championship drought and won two World Series titles. Then, during the final year of the contract, the Sox were able to spin a three-team deal that landed Ramirez in Los Angeles and gave them Jason Bay at his best. That's as much of a win-win as you can get with these deals.
Troy Tulowitzki: 10 years, $157.75 million (Rockies, 2011-20)
After batting .290, putting up 92 homers and winning a National League Gold Glove Award in his first four-plus seasons, the Rockies signed Tulowitzki to this gargantuan contract in the hopes that he'll be their franchise player for a long, long time. In 2020, Tulowitzki will be 36 years old, and even though he is a top-notch defensive player, one has to wonder whether he'll remain at shortstop, considering the wear and tear of the position and the power numbers he has put up. Tulowitzki bounced back from injury problems in '10 for a 30-100-.300 season in '11.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.