Three months’ worth of patience, or rather a slow-speed game of chicken, certainly paid off for new Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer. The 30-year-old righty finalized a seven-year, $210 million contract Wednesday, and thus became the biggest splurge of any team during the offseason.
Teams across Major League Baseball were not afraid to shell out major dollars during the offseason. The 10 highest contracts inked during the offseason totaled $888 million, with Scherzer’s alone exceeding that of the combined contracts of Ervin Santana, Chase Headley, Brandon McCarthy and David Robertson.
Based off the list below, pitchers, both starters and relievers, earned the most in free agency. Five of the top 10 contracts, including the first two, belong to pitchers with the rest scattered among the infield. And with the market for both catchers and third baseman very shallow, three players made out like bandits.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 most lucrative contracts signed in the offseason.
Max Scherzer, SP, Washington Nationals, 7 years, $210 million
Scherzer became the ninth player in MLB history to sign a deal worth $200 million or more, and the defending NL East champs now have a behemoth of a rotation with Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman already in tow.
Of the eight other players to sign such an exorbitant deal, Scherzer might take home the most thanks to the unique structure of the deal and D.C.’s tax laws.
Jon Lester, SP, Chicago Cubs, 6 years, $155 million
Everyone thought Lester would wind up back in Boston, but the Cubs called and blew the lefty away. Lester now tries to rebuild a pitching staff that was the third-worst in the National League with a 3.91 ERA in 2014, and was one of only three teams to post just one complete game.
Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Boston Red Sox, 5 years, $95 million
Part of a major upgrade in the Red Sox infield, Sandoval was the most coveted third baseman available in free agency. The two-time All Star and World Series-winner should immediately help a Boston club that was No. 22 in team batting average and 24th in slugging.
Hanley Ramirez, SS, Boston Red Sox, 4 years, $88 million
There’s no question about Ramirez’s talent, but the Red Sox took a risk due to his injury-laden past. Last season, Ramirez played 128 games, his highest number since 2010. Still he immediately helps with fielding and adds some speed on the base paths to a team that notched only 63 steals last season, tied for the second-worst in the AL.
Russell Martin, C, Toronto Blue Jays, 5 years, $82 million
In his two years in Pittsburgh, the Pirates had one of the best staffs in the NL and Martin deserves a mountain of credit. But Toronto agreed to pay Martin more than 13-times the next richest deal a catcher received this offseason. Colorado will pay Nick Hundley $6.25 million over the next two years.
Nelson Cruz, RF, Seattle Mariners, 4 years, $57 million
Part of the best power-hitting club in the majors last season, Cruz belted a career-high 40 home runs and drove in 108 runs for Baltimore. At 34 years old, it might seem like the Mariners overpaid, but now they have a big bat to put behind Robinson Cano.
Ervin Santana, SP, Minnesota Twins, 4 years, $55 million
Santana has been a Cy Young candidate during stretches of his career, but also posted a 5.16 ERA in 2012. He bounced back in 2013 with a 3.24 ERA and a 3.95 ERA in 2014. It’s certainly a bit of splurge for the Twins, but with a staff that posted a combined 4.55 ERA last season, they needed to spend a bit more.
Chase Headley, 3B, New York Yankees, 4 years, $52 million
The first of three free agents that the Yankees tried to retain, Headley stayed and emerged as one of New York’s best late season acquisitions in years. He hit .262 with six home runs and 17 RBI and drew 29 walks in 58 games in the Bronx. Now he’ll serve as solid insurance for Alex Rodriguez.
Brandon McCarthy, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers, 4 years, $48 million
Another late season acquisition, McCarthy helped a struggling Yankee rotation with a 7-5 record, 2.98 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 14 starts. McCarthy returns to the West Coast, where he posted strong numbers with the Oakland A's in 2011 and 2012.
David Robertson, CL, Chicago White Sox, 4 years, $46 million
Easily the richest deal for any closer this year, Robertson accounted for 39 of the Yankees 48 saves last season. Considering the White Sox totaled only 36 saves all of last year, landing a top-rated reliever made sense.