Biggest MLB contracts in history: Fernando Tatis Jr.’s $340 million Padres contract ranks third

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In one of the biggest moves this offseason, the San Diego Padres signed Fernando Tatis Jr. to a whopping 14-year contract worth $340 million for its entirety. It was just the latest in a recent string of decade-plus long deals easily worth nine figures in the sport. Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout took the cake during spring training in 2019 with a 12-year extension worth more than $430 million to set a-then North American sports record, which has since been broken by Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Trout still owns the largest contract in baseball history, and now Tatis ranks third.

Just before games got started in 2020, Mookie Betts made his long-expected debut on the list of the highest-paid baseball players, agreeing to a 12-year, reportedly $365 million extension with the Dodgers. The big payday came after Betts got traded from Boston and just months before he was due to hit free  agency.

Nolan Arenado received $260 million from the Colorado Rockies (and has since been traded to the Cardinals), Manny Machado agreed to a $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres in 2019 and Bryce Harper briefly made history with his 13-year, $330 million pact with the Philadelphia Phillies. Anthony Rendon parlayed a World Series win with the Nationals into $245 million to play alongside Mike Trout with the Angels, while Gerrit Cole turned a dominant 2019 into $365 million from the Yankees. 

Trout reigns supreme with a total contract that’ll pay more than any other player in the league, but Cole beats him out with a superior annual salary.

Here’s how each of the contracts stack up against the biggest all-time deals in MLB history, with numbers from Baseball Prospectus:

1. Mike Trout Los Angeles Angels 12 years $430+ million $35.8+ million
2. Mookie Betts Los Angeles Dodgers 12 years $365 million $30.4 million
3. Fernando Tatis Jr. San Diego Padres 14 years $340 million $24.3 million
4. Bryce Harper Philadelphia Phillies 13 years $330 million $25.3 million

5. Giancarlo Stanton

Miami Marlins

13 years

$325 million

$25 million

6. Gerritt Cole

New York Yankees

9 years

$324 million

$36 million

7. Manny Machado

San Diego Padres

10 years

$300 million

$30 million

8. Alex Rodriguez

New York Yankees

10 years

$275 million

$27.5 million

9. Nolan Arenado

Colorado Rockies

8 years

$260 million

$32.5 million

10. Alex Rodriguez

Texas Rangers

10 years

$252 million

$25.2 million

11. Miguel Cabrera

Detroit Tigers

8 years

$248 million

$31 million

12. Stephen Strasburg

Washington Nationals

7 years

$245 million

$35 million

13. Anthony Rendon

Los Angeles Angels

7 years

$245 million

$35 million

If you’re looking just at average money per year, neither Tatis nor Betts even crack the top-10, while Trout places in second — and first among position players. Harper, meanwhile, falls just outside the top 10 in that category despite landing the thrid-biggest total deal. Here’s a look at the top current MLB contracts in terms of average salary per season:

  1. SP Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees: $36 million
  2. OF Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels: $35.8+ million
  3. SP Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals: $35 million
  4. 3B Anthony Rendon, Los Angeles Angels: $35 million
  5. SP Trevor Bauer, Los Angeles Dodgers, $34 million
  6. SP Justin Verlander, Houston Astros: $33 million
  7. SP Zack Greinke, Houston Astros: $32.5 million
  8. 3B Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies: $32.5 million
  9. SP David Price, Los Angeles Dodgers: $31 million
  10. SP Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers: $31 million
  11. 1B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers, $31 million

Beyond baseball, in terms of total money, Machado’s contract initially clocked in as the third largest current deals in all of sports, ranking behind only Stanton and boxer Canelo Álvarez ($365 million). Trout, Betts and now Tatis have since shaken up that list.

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