Sports contracts seem to get bigger each and every year. As sports have transformed into a business, owners will pay anything to nab the next big thing. New contract signings headline the likes of Sportscenter and newspapers worldwide. With the increase in ticket prices and the food at these professional events so high, it’s no wonder the owners can afford to pay athletes gobs and gobs of money to play for their team. On this list, owners went for broke. All of them spent at least $100 million on the athletes featured on this list.
One other thing worth noting about this list; it’s comprised entirely of MLB contracts. In fact, 19 of the top 20 biggest contracts in sports belong to MLB players, with the one exception being Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s $180 million contract with Showtime (albeit over a much smaller time span of only 2 years). So, when you read this list of the biggest sports contracts ever signed, keep in mind: how much would you pay for success?
10. Joe Mauer — Minnesota Twins — $140 Million Over 8 Years
In 2008 and 2009, the baseball world flurried over the new sensation of the sport, Joe Mauer. A home boy from Minnesota, Joe went on to play for his hometown team of the Minnesota Twins. Hitting an impressive .328 in 2008, Mauer continued to wow baseball fans with his hitting ability. He won the coveted batting title for a second time this same year, continuing his dominance of the batter’s box that began to get him recognized back in 2006. With all of these impressive numbers, it wasn’t a surprise when the Twins offered Mauer an 8-year, $140 million deal (lasting from 2011-2018). Joe agreed, and had an awful year in 2011. However, he was able to bounce back and had great runs in both 2012 and 2013. It looks like the future is still bright for Mr. Mauer.
9. Derek Jeter — New York Yankees — $189 Million Over 10 Years
Derek Jeter‘s name appearing on this list should not come as a shock to baseball fans. It seems Jeter has been around forever, and only now does it seem he is starting to fade in terms of ability and stamina. However, in 2001, Jeter was just getting started. The long-time shortstop of the New York Yankees, Derek won multiple championships with the Yanks. Known as a consistent player that almost never missed a game early in his career, the Yankees decided it was time to formally secure his future with the team. That’s why they offered Derek a 10-year, $189 million deal to sign (2001-2010). During this time, he made the AL All-Star team eight times and won the AL Gold Glove Award a staggering five times. It looks like the contract was worth it.
8. Prince Fielder — Detroit Tigers — $214 Million Over 9 Years
This spot is the oddity on this list. Belonging to Prince Fielder, a shocking turn of events would occur in 2013 that surprised everyone. However, back in 2012, all was good. Fielder had just signed a 9-year, $214 million contract with the Tigers, and was hammering the ball at the plate. Turning in batting averages of .313 and .279 in 2012 and 2013, respectively, Prince was also known for driving in runs. He drove in 106 runs in 2013. Fielder was undoubtly one of the forces that helped the Tigers reach the World Series in 2012 and the postseason in 2013. However, he failed to deliver in the postseason, batting just .071 in the 2012 World Series and a measly .278 in the 2013 ALDS and .182 in the ALCS. So, after just two seasons with Detroit, Fielder was traded to the Texas Rangers. The Tigers ended up sending $30 million to the Rangers to cover just a portion of what they owe them.
7. Clayton Kershaw — Los Angeles Dodgers — $215 Million Over 7 Years
2014 seems to be the year of huge contract signings in Major League Baseball. Owners are gobbling up players left and right and signing away practically their entire career to one team. Such is the case with Clayton Kershaw. A prized left-handed tosser for the National League’s Los Angeles Dodgers, Kershaw must love the sunny Golden Coast. Or, at least I would hope so, considering he signed a seven-year, $215 million contract with the Dodgers. His contract runs through 2020. Fans of the Dodgers should be happy with this development, seeing as how Kershaw has the lowest ERA with a minimum of 1,000 innings pitched in decades. The guy knows how to throw a ball and throw it well.
6. Joey Votto — Concinnatti Reds — $215 Million Over 10 Years
Swinging from the West Coast to the East Coast, the next entrant on this list marks the lower part of Ohio as his territory. Joey Votto, an all-around solid player, plays first base for another National League team, the Cincinnati Reds. Votto debuted with the major league squad at the end of the 2007 campaign. Putting in solid year after solid year, the Reds finally agreed to let Votto securely call Cincinnati his home for the next ten years. In another blockbuster 2014 signing, the Reds inked Votto down for a cool $215 million dollars (etching out Kershaw by just $1 million dollars). The first baseman looks to be earning $138,888.89 per game for the next ten years. His numbers and popularity continue to rise, winning the “Face of the MLB” competition in February of 2013.
4. (Tie) Albert Pujols — Los Angeles Angels — $240 Million Over 10 Years
The first of two contracts worth $240 million belongs to a man who took the National League by storm while playing for the St. Louis Cardinals from 2001 to 2011. The slugging first baseman for the Midwest’s team, Albert Pujols garnered a massive success in his early years with the Cardinals. He racked up many accolades in the early stages of his career, such as making the cut for the All-Star team in his debut season, winning the Rookie of the Year Award, and nabbing the NL Batting Title in 2003. Albert’s strength and clutch hitting made him a staple in the Cardinals’ lineup, playing in seven playoffs and two World Series. At the end of his contract in 2011, Pujols was offered a 10-year, $210 million deal by the Cardinals. However, he went where the money was flowing, and the Anaheim Angels snagged him for $240 million, set to expire in 2021.
4. (Tie) Robinson Cano — Seattle Mariners — $240 Million Over 10 Years
The second member of the $240 million club belongs to a baseball team whose luck has been nonexistent in the past ten years. In an effort to reverse their losing ways, the Seattle Mariners signed Robinson Cano to a ten-year deal in 2014. Cano was best known for his role on the New York Yankees, where he spent the first chunk of his career (2005-2013). Cano made the All-Star team five times during this span, proving to opposing players just how great of a player he was. Robinson has a lifetime batting average of .309, so it seems he wasn’t let go due to a decline in performance. His contract simply expired, and the Yankees simply decided it was time to part ways.
3. Alex Rodriguez — Texas Rangers — $252 Million Over 10 Years
The third and second spots on this list are unique. Why? Well, they are taken up by the same player. Indeed, the same person has signed the second and third biggest sports contracts in history. This honor belongs to the impervious Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez began his career with the Seattle Mariners all the way back in 1994. Known for his excellent defensive skills at shortstop, Alex touted a great career with the Seattle Mariners. However, when offered a whopping ten-year, $252 million deal from the Texas Rangers, Alex jumped ship and began playing for Texas. However, the journey in Texas was short lived, as he would sign with another team just two short years later.
2. Alex Rodriguez — New York Yankees — $275 Million Over 10 Years
Following his $252 million deal with Texas, Alex Rodriguez was contacted by the New York Yankees. Their third baseman Aaron Boone suffered a devastating knee injury and the Bronx Bombers needed a replacement. Alex was willing to accept a smaller contract, and signed with them in 2004. In 2008, the Yankees decided to finalize another deal with Alex. This time, the stakes would be much higher. Alex would have to stay with the team for ten years, but was offered $275 million for his services. Everything was looking great for Alex, until the steroid scandal rocked Major League Baseball. Currently, Rodriguez is suspended from play due to his alleged participation in the scandal.
1. Miguel Cabrera — Detroit Tigers — $292 Million Over 10 Years
The top spot on this list belongs to an offensive powerhouse. This man has his grip on the Central Division in the American League and doesn’t look to loosen it up any time soon. In 2014, the Detroit Tigers made headlines around the sports world. They officially signed the largest sports contract in sports history. Miguel Cabrera, the first/third baseman for the Tigers, signed an unbelievable ten-year, $292 million deal. The Tigers can’t be happier, since Cabrera is an 8-time All-Star and a rare winner of the Triple Crown. The man drives in runs and hits homers like they are going out of style, and the Tigers capitalized on his talents. Miguel is signed through the 2023 season.