By: Noah Wright
Mike Trout just received the largest contract in MLB history. Clocking in at 12 years, $430 million, it surpasses Harper’s record setting deal my $100 million. There’s a very good reason Trout made the record setting deal by a large margin. Trout has yet to have a season where he finished outside of the top 4 of MVP voting. It’s arguable he should have won MVP in every season of his career. His lowest single season OPS was .939 in 2014. He’s a 5 tool player, as he’s stolen at least 20 bases 5 of his 7 full MLB seasons, has never hit below 27 home runs a year, has a career .307 batting average, and has a career 2.9 dWAR. He’s already racked up 64.3 career bWAR. That already surpasses all time greats like Jackie Robinson, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Mike Piazza, and Willie Stargell. If he finishes with a WAR of 8-10, he could pass a handful of other Hall Of Fame players. Overall, Trout has a career .307/.416/.573 line with a 184 wRC+ in 4673 plate appearances. Trout will only be a youthful 27 years old next year. By the time he’s done, Trout could easily surpass Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Barry Bonds as the best player of all time. Though how does his contract compare to other record breaking and extremely large contracts? (I wanted to include contracts that have at least been played out somewhat. So Machado nor Harper's counts)
- Alex Rodriguez (SS/3B):
Back on December 11th, 2000, infielder Alex Rodriguez was given a 10 year, $252 million by the Texas Rangers. At the time, it was record breaking. At the time, Rodriguez, like Trout, was a prodigy baseball player. He had just come off a 5 year run with Seattle (not counting ‘94 or ‘95 since he didn’t even play 80 games in either of those 2 seasons, but I should note he did make his debut at 18 years old) where he batted .315/.381/.575 in 3307 plate appearances. The shortstop showed speed and power, having crushed 184 home runs, and stealing 126 bases. This was all before he entered his age 25 season. A-Rod had received MVP votes in 4 of his 5 full seasons, and notably finished 2nd in voting during the 1996 season, and 3rd in voting during the 2000 season. He had also shown gold glove level defense at short, finished with a 6.5 dWAR in his 5 year run with Seattle. While A-Rod didn’t play out his contract with the Rangers, he still provided them with a .305/.395/.615 batting line in 2172 PA’s (3 seasons), 156 home runs, and 46 stolen bases. Then during the 2003-2004 off season, he was traded to the NY Yankees for Joaquin Arias and Alfonso Soriano. Through the entirety of the contract, Alex batted .304/.400/.591 with 329 long balls, 132 stolen bases, and a 56.4 bWAR.
- Alex Rodriguez (3B):
Rodriguez set yet another record breaking deal during the 2007-2008 off season. After winning the MVP during the 2007 season, Rodriguez opted out of the remaining years of his contract the Rangers had originally gave him. Instead, he opted to sign a 10 year, $275 million contract. This contract however was not as successful as his first one. Rodriguez signed the deal when he was 32, so he was already getting older. Throughout the deal, Rodriguez batted .269/.359/.486 with 178 home runs and 64 stolen bases. This was also the deal that included him getting busted for PED usage, and suspended for the entirety of the 2014 season.
- Albert Pujols (1B):
Pujols was one of the best batters in the entire sport from the early 2000’s all the way up to 2011. Between ‘01 and ‘11, Pujols put up an amazing slashline of .328/.420/.617 in 7433 plate appearances. This included 445 home runs, and gold glove level defense at first base (3.3 dWAR). After 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals decided to let Pujols go in free agency to a familiar team, the LA Angels. The Angels signed Pujols to a 10 year, $240 million contract when he was 32 years old. However, Pujols has been far from the same batter he was back in 2010. 2012 is the only season you could consider elite, as he cranked 30 bombs, and finished with a .285/.343/.516 in 670 PA’s. He also was worth 133 wRC+. Since then, Pujols has batted a weak .255/.310/.751, and has seen a dip in every single category he used to excel at. However in the long run, it might pay back, speaking that Albert Pujols has left a legacy behind him, and I’m sure ticket, jersey, and souvenir sales rise by a large amount when Pujols is about to reach milestones like his 3000th hit, or 600th home run.
- Giancarlo Stanton (RF):
Finally, a player who’s either not retired, or super old and clearly not what he’s worth anymore. Stanton, when he signed his 13 year, $325 million contract, didn’t have as long of a track record as either Pujols or A-Rod. However, Stanton was coming off a 2014 season where he batted a strong .288/.395/.555 line with 37 home runs, a 161 wRC+, in 638 plate appearances. He was also proficient with the glove finishing with 6 DRS, 6.0 UZR, 1.5 arm outs above average, and -.1 dWAR. Stanton finished 2nd in MVP voting that year right behind Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw. Entering his age 25 campaign, the Marlins gave Stanton the largest baseball contract in history until Harper came along. However Stanton may have only repeated his 2014 performance once when he won MVP in 2017. Regardless, even if he’s a bit overpaid, Stanton is one of the best power hitters in today’s game.