When I was in elementary school, we used to take annual field trips to the old Tiger Stadium. One year, Detroit was playing the Royals. I remember those blue jerseys. Our school was sitting in the outfield and somebody who wasn’t in our group pulled a beach ball out from nowhere. It eventually bounced over to a group of kids that had too few chaperones. You can guess what happened next. Somebody hit it on the field. But, instead of returning it, the Royals’ outfielder played catch with us. He was bored, given that it was the only action he had all game besides going to bat.
That’s the day I realized that baseball players get away with doing the least.
Think about it, in basketball you run up and down the court for 48 minutes and have to play defense and offense. Due to tackling, football is physically taxing and unsafe most of the time. Boxing is the best workout ever. Soccer players run all over the field and are arguably the fittest athletes in sports. Swimming leaves you exhausted and hockey is basically running on ice, but very-very skillfully. And no one has ever seen an overweight tennis player, it’s impossible.
Besides closers that can work every day, who actually does anything close to strenuous on a baseball diamond?
Starting pitchers work once every five days. Outfielders might not work at all if a ball isn’t hit their way. Infielders get the most action, but it can get pretty boring at third base if you’ve got a good rotation. Besides stepping up to the plate, which is only three to four times a game, it’s pretty easy work for very good pay. There’s a reason why they’re physically able to play so many games each season.
Now, don’t get this confused with me saying that baseball isn’t extremely hard to play and be good at, on top of all it takes to make it to the Majors. But, on a day-to-day basis, it’s the only sport where you can be an athlete and be built like this due to a lack of exercise.
On Wednesday, the Mets agreed to an outrageous 10-year, $341 million contract extension with Francisco Lindor, as it’s the latest signing that points to baseball players eventually getting half-million dollar deals one day.
Recently we’ve seen Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres) get $340 million for 14 years, Mike Trout (Angels) with $430 million over 12 years, and Mookie Betts (Dodgers) with $365 million for 12 years. And then there was Nolan Arenado ($260 million), Manny Machado ($300 million), Bryce Harper ($330 million), Anthony Rendon ($245 million), and Gerrit Cole $365 million.
According to Baseball Prospectus, here are the 20 biggest all-time deals in MLB history:
1. Mike Trout, $426,500,000 (2019-30)
2. Mookie Betts, $365,000,000 (2021-32)
3. Francisco Lindor, $341,000,000 (2022-31)
4. Fernando Tatis, $340,000,000 (2021-34)
5. Bryce Harper, $330,000,000 (2019-31)
6. Giancarlo Stanton, $325,000,000 (2015-27)
7. Gerrit Cole, $324,000,000 (2020-28)
8. Manny Machado, $300,000,000 (2019-28)
9. Alex Rodriguez, $275,000,000 (2008-17)
10. Nolan Arenado, $260,000,000 (2019-26)
11. Alex Rodriguez, $252,000,000 (2001-10)
12. Miguel Cabrera, $248,000,000 (2016-23)
13. Stephen Strasburg, $245,000,000 (2020-26) & Anthony Rendon, $245,000,000 (2020-26)
15. Albert Pujols, $240,000,000 (2012-21) & Robinson Cano, $240,000,000 (2014-23)
17. Joey Votto, $225,000,000 (2014-23)
18. David Price, $217,000,000 (2016-22)
19. Clayton Kershaw, $215,000,000 (2014-20) & Christian Yelich, $215,000,000 (2020-28)
Keep getting that money, fellas.