20 Biggest Contracts in Sports History

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Staff Writer


20. Matt Kemp
Kemp is the movie-star handsome outfielder for the San Diego Padres. But in 2012, he was a star player for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the team rewarded him with an eight-year, $160,000,000 contract, which worked out to about $23 million a year, or $141,000 per game. Not bad for a guy who’s had decent numbers, but has never been an MVP in his career.

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19. Manny Ramirez
The former Boston Red Sox star signed an eight-year, $160 million contract in 2001 that paid him $20 million a year. At the time, Ramirez was one of the game’s most feared hitters, able to make contact with pitches that would blow by most players. Ramirez was eventually traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008, and ended his MLB career with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011.

18. CC Sabathia
Sabathia is a rotund pitcher for the New York Yankees who looks like he should be playing Santa Claus in a mall, but for awhile was one of the most dominant hurlers in baseball. When he was a free agent in 2009, Sabathia signed a seven-year, $161 million contract that paid him $23 million a year. Although he’s had a few good years, paying that amount of money to a player who only takes the field every five days seems like a bad investment.

17. Buster Posey
Posey is the tough as nails catcher for the San Francisco Giants, and the leader of a team that’s won three World Series in the past five years. Posey sets the tone for the Giants with his expert catching, take-no-prisoners attitude and consistent hitting. In 2013, the Giants gave him a nine-year, $167 million contract that pays him $17 million a year. Posey has delivered a World Series title in that period, which makes him a bargain compared to some of the others on this list.

16. Felix Hernandez
The Seattle Mariners pitcher is one of the most feared throwers in baseball, and inked a seven-year, $175 million contract in 2013 that pays him a whopping $25 million a year. Hernandez has a 3.06 earned-run average, which is outstanding in the live ball era, and won the AL Cy Young Award in 2010. He’s also a six-time all-star, including five in a row from 2011 through 2015.

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15. Justin Verlander
The Detroit Tigers pitcher who was once known for his velocity is perhaps better known now for being the boyfriend of supermodel Kate Upton. Verlander put his John Hancock on a seven-year, $180 million deal in 2013, which is a risky move for the Tigers, because that huge contract was signed when Verlander was 30, an age in which many pitchers lose speed, location and effectiveness. And in fact, since signing that contract, Verlander hasn’t made an all-star team.


14. Floyd Mayweather
The pound-for-pound best boxer in the world signed a two-year, six-fight contract with Showtime in 2013 that pays him a minimum of $30 million per fight in salary, but doesn’t take into account pay-per-view numbers which often dwarf that figure. That was evident when Mayweather’s superfight with Manny Pacquiao in May 2015 earned the boxer more than $200 million from his cut of PPV buys. It still doesn’t make Mayweather any more likeable, but respect is due for his ability to make gobs of money.

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13. Joe Mauer
Mauer is a Minnesota Twins legend who signed an eight-year, $184 million deal in 2011. The Twins lifer has played for the team since his debut in 2004, and was the AL MVP in 2009. He is also six-time all-star with a lifetime batting average of .316 and more than 1,600 hits. He owns the highest career average as a catcher, and the highest season average as a catcher in MLB history.

12. Derek Jeter

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The New York Yankees legend is one of the most admired athletes of all time because of the way he handled himself on and off the diamond. Jeter exemplified class, style and a dedication to excellence, and he never sullied his name with sex scandals or anything salacious. The former Yankees captain signed a 10-year deal in 2001 for $189 million, which was a bargain, considering the value Jeter gave the Yankees brand before he retired after the end of the 2014 season.

11. Max Scherzer
Scherzer is the wunderkind pitcher for the Washington Nationals who put pen to paper in 2015 on a seven-year, $210 million contract that pays him an incredible $30 million a year in salary alone. And the crazy thing is that this isn’t even the richest pitching contract in baseball history. Scherzer won the Cy Young Award in 2013, and is a three-time all-star and two-time AL wins leader. He added to his growing legend by pitching a no-hitter in June 2015.

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10. Prince Fielder
The giant slugger signed a nine-year contract with the Detroit Tigers in 2012 that was worth $214 million. Fielder, the son of masher Cecil Fielder, is known for his hitting power and his girth. He was traded in November 2013 to the Texas Rangers, but had a down year in 2014 due to neck surgery that ended his season. In the 2015 season, Fielder has returned to form, and was selected for the 2015 all-star game. He is a six-time all-star, and was the NL home run champ in 2007.

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9. Clayton Kershaw
Kershaw is widely considered the best pitcher in baseball, and in 2014 he won both the Cy Young Award and NL MVP Award, a rare double for a player who only takes the field once every five games. Kershaw is a dominant leftie who uses speed, placement and patience to overwhelm batters. In 2014, the Los Angeles Dodgers superstar signed a seven-year, $215 million contract that pays him just under $31 million a year. Given Kershaw’s 2.50 ERA, and his three Cy Young Awards since 2011, the Dodgers may have gotten a bargain.

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8. Joey Votto
The Cincinnati Reds star joined the ranks of the biggest contracts in history when he signed a 10-year, $225 million deal in 2014. Although it ‘only’ pays him $22 million a year, the length of the contract puts Votto right in the thick of the largest sports salaries of all time. Votto is a four-time all-star, 2010 NL MVP, and lead the NL in on-base percentage from 2010 to 2013.

7. Sebastian Vettel
Vettel is a racing champion who signed a three-year, $240 million contract with Ferrari in 2015. The massive deal pays him $80 million a year to race under the Ferrari banner, and as a four-time Formula One Champion, Vettel has certainly proved his bona fides. At the age of 28, Vettel has 148 Formula One starts, and has earned 45 pole positions. In terms of yearly salary, the $80 million Vettel earns is the largest amount paid to an athlete or sports figure in history.


6. Albert Pujols
Pujols is a future first-ballot MLB hall-of-famer, and the $240 million, 10-year contract that he signed in 2012 with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim was a lifetime achievement award for a player who has consistently maintained a high level of excellence. Although he had subpar years in 2012 and 2013, Pujols showed life in 2014, and is having a terrific 2015 campaign, that puts him right in the middle of the AL MVP debate.

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5. Robinson Cano
Cano, the former New York Yankees start, left the Bronx to sign a ten-year, $240 million deal with the Seattle Mariners in 2014. The second baseman won the World Series with the Yankees in 2009, is a six-time all-star and has won the Silver Slugger Award five times his 11-year career.

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4. Miguel Cabrera
Cabrera is a first baseman who won the fabled Triple Crown in 2012, and has been one of baseball’s best players for the past five years. The Detroit Tigers signed him to an eight-year, $248 million deal that runs from 2016 to 2023. Cabrera’s annual salary is $31 million, which is the highest annual figure in baseball. The 32 year-old is a ten-time all-star, two-time AL MVP, five-time Silver Slugger and three-time AL batting champion.

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3. Alex Rodriguez
What more can be said about A-Rod, the most polarizing athlete in baseball? While starring for the Texas Rangers in 2001, A-Rod signed a 10-year, $252 million deal that was at the time, the richest in baseball history. At the time, A-Rod was considered far and away the best player in the game, a five-tool player able to do everything on the field with a high level of proficiency.

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2. Alex Rodriguez
Yep, A-Rod has signed two of the biggest contracts in sports history, and this 10-year, $275 million deal came in 2008 when he was with the New York Yankees. It is still the highest annual salary for a non-pitcher in baseball, and despite the fact that A-Rod was suspended for the entire 2014 season, he has come back strong in 2015.

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1. Giancarlo Stanton
In 2015, the Miami Marlins outfielder signed a 13-year, $325 million contract that pays him $25 million a year. Many eyebrows were raised in baseball when the deal was announced, because 13 years is a long time for a player who will be 38 when the contract ends. But Stanton is one of the game’s best players, a three-time all-star and 2014 home run champion who is only in his sixth season.

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