By now most baseball fans have heard about the huge record-setting contract extension just awarded to Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera – the one that finally topped the once thought untoppable contract of troubled Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Cabrera just signed an 8-year contract extension on top of the two years remaining on his current contract for a combined 10-year deal worth $292 million, thus making him the richest man in baseball and trumping A-Rod’s 10-year/$275 million contract signed back in December of 2007.
Although Dodgers two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw will receive a Dodgers franchise record (and briefly MLB record) average annual salary of $30.7 million per year for the next seven seasons and Cabrera a new MLB record average annual salary of $31 million per year over the term of his new contract extension, the baseball world seems to spend very little time looking back at the games’ richest players but instead looks forward trying to predict who’s next.
Up until Friday evening nearly everyone thought that Angels center fielder Mike Trout would be that guy. After all, there had been rumors of a 10-year/$350 million-ish contract extension being floated around for the 22-year-old superstar. But around 8:00 PM during the second game of the annual Dodgers/Angels Freeway Series it was learned that Trout and the Angels had come to an agreement on a six-year/$144.5 million contract extension that will begin in 2015 and run through the 2020 season when Trout will be 29 years old. And while Trout’s contract extension only averages out to slightly more than $24 million per season, it puts him in a position to land a contract that could pale Cabrera’s deal when Trout becomes a free agent in 2021.
But what about Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig? Could he be the next mega-million contract lotto winner?
Now before you run off and say that there is no way that Puig will ever top Cabrera’s or even Mike Trout’s new contract consider this: Trout is now locked up through the 2020 season while Puig is entering the third year of his seven-year/$42 million contract. Puig then becomes arbitration eligible in 2019 (at age 28) and a free agent before the 2020 season (at age 29). Should Puig continue to put up the type of numbers that he did after his June 3, 2013 MLB call-up, he very well may become baseball’s next that guy before Mike Trout hits free agency in 2021. If nothing else, Puig and Trout will make the 2020 and 2021 off-seasons very interesting.
If major league baseball has taught us anything over its 145-year history it has taught us to expect the unexpected which, of course, includes sometimes surprising and frequently insane salaries and contracts. And while some of these crazy contracts end up being the deal of the century, most of them end up being complete disasters that inevitably strangle team owners. But in spite of this, there is absolutely nothing to even remotely suggest that these mind-boggling enormous contract will end anytime soon.
After all, it’s all about the money.