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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of 10-Year Contracts

Giancarlo Stanton and Alex Rodriguez
Giancarlo Stanton of the Yankees talks with former Yankee Alex Rodriguez prior to the start of a game against the New York Mets at Yankee Stadium on July 22, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

On the eve of the Phillies meeting with Bryce Harper and amid reports that they’ve upped their offer to Manny Machado, it’s a good time to look at long-term contracts in Major League Baseball; really long-term contracts of at least 10-years.

History shows that putting that much money on the line for that long of a period of time is risky business.

The poster child for 10-year deals is Alex Rodriguez. In his career, Rodriguez actually signed two 10-year deals, choosing to opt-out of the first one after seven seasons and then getting another 10-year deal from the Yankees. Of course, Rodriguez would miss a season during the second contract when he was suspended for steroid use and then reach a settlement with the Yankees to void the final season of the deal.

The bottom line is that over the life of his two 10-year deals, Rodriguez made in the neighborhood of $410-million and producing a slash line of 507-1491-.289/.382/.546 with 196 stolen bases with Texas and New York.

It’s worth noting that in a 2008 interview with The Daily News, Rodriguez admitted to regretting signing with Texas and not accepting a slightly less lucrative offer from the Mets, which his agent, Scott Boras, had urged him to take.

Following the 2013 season, three players – Giancarlo Stanton, Robinson Cano and Joey Votto – received deals of 10 years or more, with Stanton getting a 13-year deal from the Marlins.

Stanton, who was dealt to the Yankees in December of 2017, signed a 13-year, $325-million deal. After five of the 13 seasons, Stanton has produced at a 188-478-.270/.360/.557 clip and was the MVP of the 2017 season.

Cano’s tenure has also been touched by steroids and he sat out 80 games last season following a suspension. In his 704 games since signing the deal, Cano is hitting 107-411-.296/.353/.472 and will make his debut with the Mets in 2019 after being dealt from Seattle.

Many people forget that Votto signed a 10-year deal with Cincinnati. In the first year of the deal, injuries limited him to just 62 games, but he’s played at least 145 in each season since, including playing in all 162 games in 2017. He’s also been in the top three in MVP voting in two of the five seasons since inking the deal. His slash line stands at 112-367-.306/.437/.514 with Cincinnati.

A 10-year, $240-million deal enticed Albert Pujols to leave St. Louis for the Angels following the 2011 season. Pujols, who turns 39 later this month, has slowed some and has had to work through injuries. With three more seasons left, Pujols has produced 188-653-.260/.315/.453 for Los Angeles.

The Colorado Rockies have a history of dishing out some pretty big contracts. In April, 2001, Todd Helton was still signed through the 2002 season, but the Rockies gave him a nine-year extension worth $141.5-million. The deal could have gone to 10 years, but the Rockies didn’t pick up the final option year of the deal worth $23-million. Instead, they gave Helton a $4.6-million buyout and then signed him to a two-year, $9-million deal that kept him in Colorado for his entire career. As part of the nine-year deal, Helton accepted a deferred payment plan that the Rockies will be paying off through 2023, getting $1.3-milliion, plus three-percent interest every year.

Speaking of still paying off contracts; just before Christmas, the Rockies made the final payment on Mike Hampton‘s eight-year, $121-million deal he signed back in 2001. Hampton made just 62 starts over two seasons with the Rockies, going 21-28 with a 5.75 ERA.

The Rockies dealt Hampton to the Marlins in November of 2002 and two days later, he was flipped to the Atlanta Braves. Hampton missed the 2006 and 2007 seasons with injuries, but was never the same pitcher. Like Helton, Hampton was given deferred payments by the Rockies for $1.9-million plus three-percent interest that took him through the end of the 2018 calendar year.

Then, there’s Troy Tulowitzki, who got a 10-year, $157.75-million deal with Colorado prior to the 2011 season. Before being dealt to Toronto in 2015, Tulowitzki hit 96-319-.309/.382/.534 with the Rockies.

With the Blue Jays, Tulowitzki had an injury plagued season in 2018 and was released with the team still owing him $38-million for the remaining two years of his deal. He signed with the Yankees for the league minimum salary of $555-thousand earlier this month and will look to rejuvenate his career.

Of course, even shorter term deals can go badly. Ryan Howard‘s five-year, $125-million deal with the Phillies became an albatross that weakened the Phillies financial flexibility after Howard’s career took a sudden downturn following an Achilles tendon tear while making the last out of the 2011 NL Division Series against St. Louis.

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