With the recent signing of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs on a groundbreaking 10-year, $502 million deal, the question is brought up: Are athletes really with the expensive and sometimes lengthy contract?
It’s very common for players to underperform after signing a new contract for worth much more. In the NFL, a prime example of this occurring are the Chicago Bears and Jay Cutler. Cutler extremely underperformed on the field after inking a ridiculous seven-year, $126 million contract in 2014. In the NBA, the Charlotte Hornets agreed to a preposterous five-year, $120 million deal with big man Nicolas Batum. In the NHL, defensemen Dion Phaneuf worked a seven-year, $49 million contract. In the long term, it’s safe to say none of these contracts panned out the way they were projected.
Let’s take a look at Major League Baseball’s top contracts and see if the players were deserving of the prestigious contract:
Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels: 12-year, $426.5 million
Worth it: Yes!
Arguably the generation’s best player, Mike Trout, leads the way with the largest annual intake currently in baseball with $35.5 million per season. The Angels center fielder already has a Hall-of-Fame resumé at just age 28. The 3-time MVP and former Minor League Player of the Year constantly leads all of baseball in batting average, OBP, OPS and slugging. Having a career batting average north of .300, Trout has certainly etched his name in baseball history with these mind-boggling numbers each and every season in LA.
When you have the best player in baseball on your roster, it’s deserving to sign him to the largest annual contract in all of baseball. The 8-time All-Star puts on a show and dazzles crowds with his athletic prowess in the outfield. Whether it be throwing out runners, or even making home run robbing catches at the wall, Trout is able to put on a highlight reel. The 2012 Rookie of the Year hasn’t placed out of the top-4 in his eight year career in MVP voting. Certainly, the 7-time Silver Slugger award winner is deserving of this exclusive contract.
Bryce Harper, OF, Philadelphia Phillies: 13-year, $330 million
Worth it: TBD
The most anticipated player in all of baseball took his deserving time to decide where he was going to sign in the 2018 offseason. Harper, a client of widely regarded agent Scott Boras, knew he was going to get the money he’s worth, if not more. Philadelphia was the destination of choice for Harper after departing a playoff bound Washington Nationals team. Harper wanted to make sure he’s locked up and secured in Philadelphia, so he agreed to an absurd 13-year, $330 million contract. But under the surface, lies an unseen clause in the contract: no trade clause and no opt-outs. This was a decision made by Harper for the city of Philadelphia to show extreme loyalty to the passionate fanbase.
Many detractors of Harper are calling his expensive contract a waste, claiming he’s not really worth this kind of money. Well, when you have a 6-time All-Star, one-time MVP and a career .270 hitter in your lineup, you’re automatically a playoff contender. The athletic 6-foot-3 build of Harper is able to put his body on the line or throw runners out while in the outfield. The power bat will constantly be a threat to all pitchers in the league. Harper has yet to win a gold glove, but that many circulate that award will come sooner than later for the 27-year old. All in all, if Harper brings and keeps his MVP level consistently, Philly will have a franchise player for a long time to come in the field and in the lineup.
Giancarlo Stanton, OF, New York Yankees (agreed to deal with Miami): 13-year, $325 million
Worth it: TBD
Signing a massive 13-year, $325 million contract with the Miami Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton was a perennial MVP candidate in the National League. In spite of a not-so-strong Miami Marlins team, the organization was in rebuild mode and trading players for prospects to prepare for the future. Stanton was one of the players traded in this rebuilding stage for Miami. General Manager, Derek Jeter, and the Marlins shipped Stanton to the World Series favorite New York Yankees team, adding an elite bat to their fierce lineup.
Stanton, 30, arguably has the most powerful bat in all of baseball with his exit velocity at the top of the charts. Three years in the Bronx, Stanton only has one full season under his belt due to nagging injuries. Looking into next season, working with new Director of Player Health and Performance, Eric Cressey, Stanton is expected to make a healthy return this 60-game summer season. The 4-time All-Star looks to get back on track with his consistency in the Bronx in the future. It’s a matter of when and not if for the 3-time Silver Slugger to return back to MVP form.
Gerrit Cole, RHP, New York Yankees: 9-year, $324 million
Worth it: TBD
The most coveted pitcher in all of baseball inked a record breaking deal last December with the New York Yankees for 9-year, $324 million. This unheard of, six figure contract blows all previous pitching contracts out of the water. The electric fastball of Cole constantly reaches triple digits. Improving each year, the right-handed phenom will be in his prime for the entire duration while in New York. Leading the league in strikeouts and ERA last season, Cole is the heavy favorite to win American League Cy Young this season.
General Manager, Brian Cashman, only breaks the bank when he has his eyes on the prize and with Cole, this was the perfect scenario. Signing arguably the best pitcher in all of baseball to a nine year contract, in his prime, was a no brainer. The 3-time All-Star grew up admiring the Yankees and now, he’s the ace of the World Series favorite team. Leading the heavy pitching staff, Cole looks to add some more hardware to his name when it’s all set and done in New York.
Manny Machado, 3B, San Diego Padres: 10-year, $300 million
Worth it: TBD
The 2018 offseason was headlined by two big names and two big contracts: Bryce Harper signing with Philadelphia and Manny Machado signing with San Diego. The two signed for a combined $630 million worth in contract money. Machado, the face of the Baltimore Orioles organization was shipped to Los Angeles to help push the Dodgers over the unlucky hump to finally win a title, before his free agency.
The 4-time All-Star brings an array to weapons to the table when you have his presence on your roster. The versatile Machado can play both third base and shortstop to bridge any gap in a team. Arguably a top-10 player in all of baseball features one of the strongest arms in all of baseball. The dynamic Machado also has a 2-time Gold Glove, and a one time Platinum Glove under his belt. At the plate, the former face of the Orioles constantly has an OPS above .800, which is very strong. Although, Machado’s batting average has been a bit inconsistent ranging from a strong .315 to a weak .256. The Padres are taking somewhat of a risk with this massive contract for Machado. But, the odds are in Machado’s favor to get back to the MVP caliber player he once was.
Other Notable Contracts:
Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies: 8-year, $260 million
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers: 8-year, $248 million
Stephen Stasburg, RHP, Washington Nationals: 7-year, $245 million
Anthony Rendon, 3B, Los Angeles Angels: 7-year, $245 million
Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Mets (agreed to deal with Seattle): 10-year, $240 million
Photo: Alex Trautwig / Getty Images