Thursday, February 29, 2024

Where Shohei Ohtani ranks among the biggest contracts in North American sports history

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Two-time American League MVP Shohei Ohtani is a superstar. Check that, he’s a super duper megastar. Not only is he one of the best players in MLB, but he’s one of the most marketable athletes of all-time. Wherever he goes, dollars follow. With all that in mind, it was clear months ago that Ohtani was on track to set a new standard in the MLB free agent market, just as his teammate Mike Trout did years ago.

Originally, reports indicated that Ohtani could earn the first ever $500 million MLB contract. Trout’s contract, which was the largest contract in North American sports history when he signed, ended up being 12 years, $426.5 million.

But Ohtani wound up signing for $700 million with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the two-way star announced on his Instagram Saturday.

Here are some of the other biggest contracts in North American sports history.

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Biggest contracts in North American sports history:

Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (NFL) – $450 million* (not fully guaranteed)

Patrick Mahomes earned this contract in 2020 after winning his first Super Bowl, a 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Since then, Mahomes has led his team to three consecutive AFC Championship Games as well as two Super Bowls and one Super Bowl victory. Oh, he also earned another MVP award along the way.

Los Angeles Angels OF Mike Trout (MLB) – $427 million

Trout signed this contract in 2019. He was the first player in North American sports history to eclipse $350 million and he blew that figure out of the water.

Prior to his contract, Trout had earned two American League MVP Awards and was top-five in voting every year of his career. Trout earned a third AL MVP in his first year under the new contract, but has constantly battled injuries since then.

No. 4 Los Angeles Dodgers OF Mookie Betts (MLB) – $365 million

In three full seasons since signing his contract, the former American League MVP has recorded two top-five MVP finishes. He has also raised his average, home runs and OPS+ every season.

No. 5 Canelo Alvarez, DAZN (Boxing) – $365 million

For the small, small price of $365 million, streaming service DAZN earned the rights to stream 11 of Alvarez’s fights over the following five years.

Alvarez signed that deal in 2018. It’s now 2023, and all 11 fights have come and gone. Alvarez went 10-1 with his only loss coming to Dmitry Bivol on May 7, 2022.

No. 6 New York Yankees OF Aaron Judge (MLB) – $360 million

Fresh off an AL MVP award and setting the AL home run record (62), Judge signed a massive contract. He even reportedly turned down a bigger offer from the San Diego Padres in order to stay in New York.

In his first year under the new contract, Judge battled injuries but still managed to smack 37 dingers and finish 15th in AL MVP voting in just 106 games.

No. 7 San Diego Padres 3B Manny Machado (MLB) – $350 million

Machado opted to leave the Los Angeles Dodgers for a different SoCal team prior to the 2019 season. He struggled in his first season with the Padres, but put it all together in 2020, 2021, and 2022, leading his team to the NLCS in 2022 as well.

Machado did not put together his typical MVP-caliber season in 2023, but still managed a 115 OPS+ and 30 home runs.

No. 8 New York Mets SS Francisco Lindor (MLB) – $341 million

In three seasons with the Mets, Lindor has recorded two top-ten MVP finishes. Too bad the Mets have not been able to do anything in the postseason.

No. 9 San Diego Padres OF Fernando Tatis Jr. (MLB) – $340 million

The Padres thought they scored a great deal when they agreed to this contract with Tatis. He rewarded them with 42 home runs and a top-three NL MVP finish in 2021. Unfortunately for the Padres, Tatis was caught using performance-enhancing drugs and was suspended in 2022. Somehow, the Padres reached the NLCS without him.

Tatis returned in 2023 and set career-lows in batting average (.257), on-base percentage (.322), slugging percentage (.449), and OPS+ (113).

No. 10 Philadelphia Phillies OF Bryce Harper (MLB) – $330 million

Although Bryce Harper has just one All-Star appearance in five years with the Philadelphia Phillies, he has been one of the best players in baseball when healthy. He not only won an MVP award in 2021, but has a multitude of electric postseason moments that have put him in the upper echelon of all-time postseason performers.

Harper helped lead the Phillies to the World Series in 2022 and his team was one game away from returning in 2023, but lost in Game 7 to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

No. 11 New York Yankees DH Giancarlo Stanton (MLB) – $325 million

After securing the NL MVP Award in 2017, Stanton donned pinstripes. His tenure with the Yankees has been defined by injuries though. In 2023, Stanton hit under the Mendoza line. Although his power is still elite, he’s swinging and missing more than ever before.

No. 12 Texas Rangers SS Corey Seager (MLB) – $325 million

After a lackluster first year with Texas, Seager went berserk in 2023. He finished second in AL MVP voting and helped lead the Rangers to their first ever World Series win. Seager was named World Series MVP as well.

No. 13 New York Yankees SP Gerrit Cole (MLB) – $324 million

Cole has been arguably baseball’s best pitcher since signing this deal in 2019. He has finished top-ten in Cy Young voting every season and finally earned the first Cy Young of his career in 2023 after leading the league in both ERA (2.63) and innings pitched (209).

No. 14 Boston Red Sox 3B Rafael Devers (MLB) – $314 million

Although Devers had one of his worse seasons in 2023, he still raked, recording a 126 OPS+ and 33 homers in his first season under the new contract. That said, he also posted his lowest slugging percentage in three years.

No. 15 Boston Celtics SF Jaylen Brown (NBA) – $304 million

Brown earned this contract after recording 26.6 PPG in 2022. Brown has cooled off in 2023, but is still scoring a solid 22.2 PPG. He is the second-leading scorer on the best team in the Eastern Conference. Although more was expected of him, it’s hard to argue he’s not living up to his price tag.

No. 16 Philadelphia Phillies SS Trea Turner (MLB) – $300 million

Even though Trea Turner had a down season in 2023, he rallied in the second half to help lead the Phillies to their second consecutive NLCS. Phillies fans may have even turned Turner’s season around after refusing to give up on him after his rocky first half.

In the second half of the season, Turner posted a triple-slash of .292/.348/.554 with 16 home runs. If he can keep up that pace moving forward, this deal will be one of the best in baseball.

No. 17 San Diego Padres SS Xander Bogaerts (MLB) – $280 million

In his first season with the Padres, Bogaerts put up a respectable 120 OPS+, but did not live up to his lofty contract. Bogaerts posted his fewest RBIs (58) in a season since 2014 and poste his lowest OPS (.790) since 2017.

No. 18 Colorado Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado (MLB) – $260 million

Arenado signed this massive deal and was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals a year later. As always, Arenado has continued to play stellar defense at the hot corner and finished top-three in NL MVP voting in 2022.

No. 19 Denver Nuggets C Nikola Jokic (NBA) – $276 million

What hasn’t Jokic done? Two-time MVP, NBA champ, NBA Finals MVP. Jokic has already lived up to this contract and he’s only been under that contract for a year and a half.

T-No. 20 New York Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez (MLB) – $275 million

This is the oldest contract on the list.

Although Alex Rodriguez’s career has been defined by his PED usage now, he was clearly one of the best players in baseball when he signed this contract following an AL MVP in the 2007 season. Rodriguez never reached that height again, but was well-worth every penny.

Coincidentally, Rodriguez also signed a $252 million deal with the Texas Rangers in 2000. He almost made this list twice.

T-No. 20 Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow (NFL) – $275 million

Burrow signed this contract prior to the 2023 NFL season. In his first three seasons prior to the contract extension, Burrow led the Bengals to two AFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl appearance. Burrow also finished fourth in NFL MVP voting in 2022.

Burrow battled injuries at the beginning of 2023 which led to a very slow start. Just as he was picking things up, he suffered a season-ending injury to his throwing hand.

Where is Ohtani playing next season?

Shohei Ohtani shared on his personal Instagram that he has decided to play with the LA Dodgers.

Will Ohtani pitch next season?

Ohtani is recovering from elbow surgery on his pitching arm, and therefore, will not be able to pitch until the 2025 season. His bat alone makes this deal very worth it for the Dodgers though.

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