Glove and Bat

Breaking Down the Biggest Pitcher Contracts in MLB History

Pitchers are the backbone of any baseball team, serving as the key players responsible for keeping the opposing team from scoring. Given their vital role, it’s no surprise that Major League Baseball (MLB) teams are willing to invest heavily in their pitchers.

Over the years, several players have signed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars, with the largest contracts often being reserved for the game’s elite arms. In this article, we will look at some of the biggest pitcher contracts in MLB history, as well as what makes pitchers so valuable to their respective franchises.

We will also delve into the unique nature of baseball contracts compared to other professional sports leagues, and why baseball players are among the highest-paid athletes in the world.

Biggest Pitcher Contracts in MLB History

Gerrit Cole’s $324 Million Contract – In December 2019, the New York Yankees signed pitcher Gerrit Cole to a nine-year, $324 million contract, making him the highest-paid pitcher in MLB history. Cole had just come off a career-high year with the Houston Astros, where he went 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA and 326 strikeouts.

The Yankees were eager to add Cole to their roster, hoping he would help carry them to the World Series after a decade-long drought. Fans have high expectations for Cole, and he has already shown he’s willing to put in the work to meet them.

Stephen Strasburg’s $245 Million Contract – Stephen Strasburg is no stranger to big contracts. When he was drafted by the Washington Nationals in 2009, the team signed him to a record-breaking $15.1 million contract.

Fast forward to 2019, and Strasburg is once again making headlines for his contract – this time a seven-year, $245 million deal with the Nationals. The contract was a reward for Strasburg’s role in the team’s 2019 World Series victory, where he was named the Most Valuable Player.

Strasburg’s performance during the postseason was nothing short of phenomenal, and the Nationals were eager to secure his services for years to come. David Price’s $217 Million Contract – In December 2015, the Boston Red Sox signed David Price to a seven-year, $217 million contract, the largest deal for a pitcher at the time.

Ironically enough, Price had struggled against the Red Sox while playing for the Tampa Bay Rays and Detroit Tigers, but that didn’t stop Boston from making him a top priority. And it paid off.

Price helped the team win the 2018 World Series, going 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA in the postseason. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020 as part of a three-team deal, but he will always be remembered in Boston for his contributions to the team’s championship run.

Clayton Kershaw’s $215 Million Contract – Clayton Kershaw has been the cornerstone of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitching staff for years. In January 2014, the team signed him to a seven-year, $215 million contract extension, which made him the highest-paid pitcher at the time.

Kershaw has proved to be worth every penny, winning three Cy Young Awards and leading the Dodgers to multiple playoff appearances. He has also been a philanthropic force off the field, with his Kershaw’s Challenge charity raising millions of dollars to help children in need.

Max Scherzer’s $210 Million Contract – Max Scherzer started his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but it was his time with the Detroit Tigers and Washington Nationals that really put him on the map. In 2015, the Nationals signed Scherzer to a seven-year, $210 million contract, the highest total contract value ever offered to a free agent pitcher at the time.

Scherzer has been a dominant force in the National League, winning three Cy Young Awards and throwing two no-hitters. He’s also been a workhorse for the Nationals, leading the league in innings pitched multiple times.

Zack Greinke’s $206.5 Million Contract – Zack Greinke has played for several teams throughout his career, but it was his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers that resulted in his record-breaking contract. In December 2015, Greinke signed a six-year, $206.5 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, making him the highest-paid right-handed pitcher in MLB history at the time.

Greinke has been a consistent force on the mound, with a 3.38 career ERA and six All-Star appearances. He was traded to the Houston Astros in 2019, but will always be remembered in Arizona for his massive contract.

Jacob deGrom’s $185 Million Contract – Jacob deGrom has been a stalwart in the New York Mets’ rotation for years, earning two Cy Young Awards in the process. In 2019, the team signed him to a five-year, $185 million contract extension, making him one of the highest-paid players in the league.

deGrom has a career ERA of 2.61, and many consider him one of the best pitchers in the game today. The Mets will be counting on him to carry them to the postseason in the coming years.

Justin Verlander’s $180 Million Contract – Justin Verlander has been one of the most dominant pitchers of the last decade, with a career ERA of 3.33 and over 3000 strikeouts. In 2013, the Detroit Tigers signed him to a seven-year, $180 million contract extension, making him the highest-paid pitcher at the time.

Verlander has since won a World Series with the Houston Astros and continued his dominant play into his late 30s. He signed a two-year extension with Houston in 2019, ensuring he will remain one of the game’s elite pitchers for years to come.

Felix Hernandez’s $175 Million Contract – Felix Hernandez has spent his entire career with the Seattle Mariners, earning six All-Star nods and a Cy Young Award along the way. In 2013, the Mariners signed him to a seven-year, $175 million contract extension, solidifying their commitment to him as the franchise’s ace.

Hernandez has struggled with injuries in recent years, but his impact on the Mariners cannot be understated. He is one of the team’s most beloved players of all time and will always be remembered for his brilliant pitching performances.

Carlos Rodn’s $162 Million Contract – Carlos Rodn is the most recent name on this list, having signed a seven-year, $162 million contract with the New York Yankees in December 2021. Rodn had a breakout season with the Chicago White Sox in 2021, going 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA and 183 strikeouts.

The Yankees believe he can be a key piece in their quest for a 28th World Series championship and are betting heavily on his continued success. Why Are Pitchers So Valuable?

As evidenced by the massive contracts listed above, pitchers are immensely valuable to their respective teams. But what makes them so vital?

For starters, pitchers are the only players on the field who have complete control over the game at any given time. They are responsible for throwing strikes, disrupting the opposing team’s offense, and setting the tone for the game.

A pitcher who can consistently throw strikes and get outs is worth their weight in gold. Injuries and inconsistent play make pitchers even more valuable.

Unlike hitters, who can often play through minor injuries, pitchers must protect their arms at all costs. One arm injury can end a career or seriously diminish a player’s abilities.

Consequently, teams are willing to pay top dollar for pitchers who can stay healthy and perform at a high level year after year.

Unique Nature of Baseball Contracts

One of the most significant differences between baseball contracts and those in other professional sports leagues is that baseball contracts are 100% guaranteed. In other words, if a team signs a player to a contract and later decides they want to cut ties, they are still obligated to pay out the remainder of the contract.

This is a stark contrast to the NFL and NBA, where contracts are often structured with performance-based incentives that can result in a player being cut or traded if they don’t meet expectations. Baseball contracts, on the other hand, provide players with a sense of security and stability, knowing that they will be paid regardless of whether they’re on the field or not.

Baseball Players Among the Highest-Paid Professional Athletes

This unique structure of baseball contracts, combined with the game’s popularity and financial success, has resulted in baseball players being among the highest-paid professional athletes in the world. The top earners in MLB routinely make more than their counterparts in the NFL and NBA, with many players earning upwards of $30 million per year.

While the salaries of top athletes are often a topic of controversy, it’s important to remember that these players have worked incredibly hard to reach the pinnacle of their professions. They have put in countless hours of practice, training, and conditioning to be the best they can be on the field.

The massive contracts they sign are a reflection of their hard work and dedication to their craft.

Conclusion

In this article, we looked at some of the biggest pitcher contracts in MLB history and what makes pitchers so valuable to their respective franchises. We also delve into the unique nature of baseball contracts compared to other professional sports leagues and why baseball players are among the highest-paid athletes in the world.

As the game of baseball continues to evolve, it’s likely that we will see even more massive contracts in the years to come. Pitchers will continue to be among the most highly sought-after players, with teams eager to secure their services and the promise of postseason success.

Whether you’re a die-hard baseball fan or a casual observer, it’s hard not to appreciate the skill and dedication that goes into making a great pitcher – and the huge salaries that come with it. Major League Baseball (MLB) has seen a significant rise in the value of contracts signed by pitchers in recent years.

From Gerrit Cole’s record-setting contract with the New York Yankees to Stephen Strasburg’s extension with the Washington Nationals, teams have been willing to invest heavily in their pitching staffs. In this article, we will delve into the backgrounds of the pitchers who have signed the biggest contracts in MLB history, as well as honorably mention some of the other big contracts signed by MLB pitchers.

Gerrit Cole’s Career and Contract with the Yankees

Gerrit Cole began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but it was his time with the Houston Astros that really put him on the map. In 2019, Cole had a career-high season, going 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA and 326 strikeouts.

He became a hot commodity in the free agent market and ultimately signed a nine-year, $324 million contract with the New York Yankees in December 2019. The contract made him the highest-paid pitcher in MLB history at the time.

Cole has already had a strong start with the Yankees, and fans are hoping he can help lead the team to their first World Series in over a decade. Stephen Strasburg’s Career and Contract with the Nationals

Stephen Strasburg was a highly-touted prospect when he was drafted first overall by the Washington Nationals in 2009.

Since then, he has established himself as one of the game’s elite pitchers, earning three All-Star nods and a World Series MVP award. In 2019, the Nationals signed Strasburg to a seven-year, $245 million contract extension, making him one of the game’s highest-paid players.

The contract was a reward for Strasburg’s role in leading the Nationals to their first World Series championship in team history. David Price’s Career and Contract with the Red Sox

David Price has had a long and successful career, starting with the Tampa Bay Rays and then moving on to the Detroit Tigers, Toronto Blue Jays, and Boston Red Sox.

In 2015, the Red Sox signed Price to a seven-year, $217 million contract, the largest deal for a pitcher at the time. Price was brought in to bolster the team’s pitching staff and help lead them back to the playoffs.

He played a key role in the team’s 2018 World Series victory, going 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA in the postseason. Price was subsequently traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-team deal in 2020 but will always have a special place in the hearts of Red Sox fans.

Clayton Kershaw’s Career and Contract with the Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw is one of the game’s all-time greats, with a career ERA of 2.43 and over 2,700 strikeouts. He has spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Dodgers and has been a cornerstone of the team’s success for over a decade.

In 2014, the Dodgers signed Kershaw to a seven-year, $215 million contract extension, making him the highest-paid pitcher at the time. Kershaw has continued to dominate on the mound, leading the league in wins, strikeouts, and ERA multiple times.

He is also known for his philanthropy off the field, with his Kershaw’s Challenge charity raising millions of dollars to help children in need. Max Scherzer’s Career and Contract with the Nationals

Max Scherzer began his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks but it was his time with the Detroit Tigers and Washington Nationals that really cemented his status as one of the game’s best pitchers.

In 2015, the Nationals signed Scherzer to a seven-year, $210 million contract, making him the highest-paid free agent pitcher at the time. Scherzer has been nothing short of dominant for the Nationals, winning three Cy Young Awards and leading the league in strikeouts multiple times.

He has also thrown two no-hitters over the course of his career. Zack Greinke’s Career and Contract with the Diamondbacks

Zack Greinke has played for several teams throughout his career, including the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Arizona Diamondbacks.

In December 2015, the Diamondbacks signed him to a six-year, $206.5 million contract, making him the highest-paid right-handed pitcher in MLB history at the time. Greinke has been consistent throughout his career, with a career ERA of 3.38 and six All-Star appearances.

He was traded to the Houston Astros in 2019 but will always be remembered in Arizona for his massive contract. Jacob deGrom’s Career and Contract with the Rangers

Jacob deGrom has spent his entire career with the New York Mets, earning two Cy Young Awards in the process.

In 2019, the Mets signed him to a five-year, $137.5 million contract extension, making him one of the highest-paid players in the game. deGrom has a career ERA of 2.61, and many consider him one of the best pitchers in baseball today.

He will continue to be a key piece of the Mets’ rotation in the coming years. Justin Verlander’s Career and Contract with the Tigers

Justin Verlander has been one of the most dominant pitchers of the last decade, with a career ERA of 3.33 and over 3,000 strikeouts.

He spent the majority of his career with the Detroit Tigers, where he won the Cy Young Award and was named MVP in 2011. In 2013, the Tigers signed him to a seven-year, $180 million contract extension, making him the highest-paid pitcher at the time.

Verlander has since won a

Popular Posts