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Each MLB group’s greatest free-agent signing ever: Randy Johnson, Barry Bonds, Ichiro and even a minor-league deal


LHP Randy Johnson (4 years, $52.4 million in Dec. 1998)

Groups are listed alphabetically, although it is becoming we begin with the most effective free-agent signings in historical past and best calls on our checklist. The D-Backs gave Johnson a four-year deal and he rewarded them with 4 Cy Youngs, a World Sequence title (he was World Sequence co-MVP), and a 2.48 ERA with 1,417 strikeouts in 1,030 innings. Johnson hung round Arizona past his authentic four-year deal, although the 4 years coated by this contract had been the apex of an inner-circle Corridor of Fame profession.

Honorable point out: 2B Jay Bell, OF Steve Finley, RHP Zack Greinke

RHP Greg Maddux (5 years, $28 million in Dec. 1992)

The Braves landed Maddux, then solely 26 and coming off his first Cy Younger, with the richest pitching contract in historical past on the time. Over the following 5 years he completed first, first, first, fifth, and second within the Cy Younger voting, and threw 1,156 1/3 innings with a 2.13 ERA. It’s merely one of many best five-year stretches in baseball historical past. Maddux was additionally instrumental to the membership’s 1995 World Sequence win, their first title for the reason that franchise moved to Atlanta in 1966. One of many best free-agent signings in sports activities historical past, palms down.

Honorable point out: OF Brian Jordan, 3B Terry Pendleton, OF Lonnie Smith

1B Rafael Palmeiro (5 years, $30.5 million in Dec. 1993)

Palmeiro’s profession and tenure with the Orioles led to disgrace, although that was his second stint with the group from 2004-05. From 1994-98, he was one of many recreation’s high run producers, authoring a .292/.371/.545 batting line that was 34 p.c higher than the league common hitter as soon as adjusted for ballpark. Palmeiro averaged 36 homers these 5 seasons and bear in mind, 1994 and 1995 had been shortened by the strike. He led the O’s to the ALCS in 1996 and 1997.

Honorable point out: 2B Roberto Alomar

DH David Ortiz (one yr, $1.25 million in Jan. 2003)

For causes that can by no means make sense, the Twins non-tendered Ortiz following a 20-homer season in 2002, paving the way in which for the Crimson Sox to signal a participant who would grow to be a franchise legend. Large Papi slugged 31 homers with a .288/.369/.592 batting line in 2003, the primary yr of 14-year run in Boston. Ortiz helped the Crimson Sox finish their 86-year World Sequence drought in 2004, and led them to 2 extra titles in 2007 and 2013 as nicely.

Honorable point out: OF Johnny Damon, OF/DH JD Martinez, OF Manny Ramirez

LHP Jon Lester (six years, $155 million in Dec. 2014)

The Cubs had been able to make the soar from Lovable Loser to World Sequence contender in 2015 and Lester gave them a bona fide ace, and in addition introduced legitimacy to their title hopes. He completed second within the Cy Younger voting in 2016 and was a central determine of their first championship in 108 years. The final two years of the contract weren’t fairly, however Lester pitched to a 3.33 ERA and averaged over 190 innings throughout the first 4 years of the deal. He was a real frontline starter who made a long-lasting impression on the franchise.

Honorable point out: OF Moises Alou, OF Andre Dawson, UTIL Ben Zobrist

C Carlton Fisk (5 years, $2.9 million in March 1981)

The Crimson Sox missed the deadline to tender Fisk a contract in Dec. 1980 and an arbitration panel declared him a free agent weeks later. Fisk did not signal till after spring coaching opened, however he by no means missed a beat, going to the All-Star Sport in 1981 and ending third within the MVP voting in 1982. The Corridor of Famer signed with the White Sox at 33 and a few thought he was nearing the top of the road, however Fisk authored a .250/.315/.444 line with robust protection behind the plate throughout the five-year contract, and he hung round for one more seven seasons on the South Facet after that.

Honorable point out: 1B José Abreu, OF Jermaine Dye

OF Dave Parker (two years, $2.07 million in Dec. 1983)

Just like Fisk, there was some thought the then 33-year-old Parker was on the decline when the Reds signed him away from the rival Pirates. As an alternative, he proved to have loads left within the tank, and went on to put up a pair of top-five finishes within the MVP voting in what turned a four-year stint with Cincinnati. Parker hit .299/.347/.482 with 50 residence runs throughout his preliminary two-year contract, and was runner-up to Willie McGee for the 1985 MVP award.

Honorable point out: RHP Francisco Cordero, OF Ron Gant

2B Roberto Alomar (4 years, $30 million in Dec. 1998)

A down 1997 season at age 30 scared a number of groups into considering Alomar’s greatest days had been behind him (the second base growing older curve is fairly brutal), however Cleveland was undeterred, and throughout the first three years of his contract Alomar hit .323/.405/.515 with Gold Glove-caliber protection. He earned a pair of top-four finishes within the MVP voting. Alomar’s decline arrived in Yr 4 of the deal, although Cleveland traded him to the Mets for 3 younger gamers earlier than the season, so it wasn’t an issue. Getting three elite seasons out of a four-year deal is a significant win for the group.

Honorable point out: DH Ellis Burks, RHP Orel Hershiser, OF Kenny Lofton, RHP Dennis Martinez

OF Larry Walker (4 years, $22 million in April 1995)

The Expos slashed payroll following the 1994-95 strike, a lot in order that the group did not supply Walker arbitration, permitting him to grow to be a free agent and signal elsewhere with out Montreal getting a draft choose in return. He hooked on with the two-year-old Rockies and hit .335/.414/.643 and averaged 32 homers per yr throughout that four-year contract, even whereas lacking time with accidents. Walked was named MVP in 1995 after hitting an outrageous .366/.452/.720 with 46 doubles and 49 residence runs. He signed with Colorado in April 1995 and hung round till being traded on the 2004 deadline.

Honorable point out: OF Ellis Burks, OF Michael Cuddyer, 1B Andrés Galarraga

C Ivan Rodriguez (4 years, $40 million in Feb. 2004)

Very shut name right here. Tony Phillips (three years, $4 million in Dec. 1989) put up a .375 on-base proportion whereas taking part in six totally different positions throughout his contract, making him an especially precious participant. Rodriguez represented a altering of the guard, nonetheless. The Tigers went 43-119 in 2003 and had been a laughing inventory, however Rodriguez was a star in his prime, and the franchise’s first step again towards respectability. Rodriguez hit .298/.326/.453 with top-notch protection throughout the four-year contract. He went to 4 All-Star Video games, gained three Gold Gloves, obtained MVP votes in 2004, and was the No. 3 hitter on their 2006 AL pennant group.

Honorable point out: 3B Darrell Evans, 1B Cecil Fielder, UTIL Tony Phillips

RHP Nolan Ryan (4 years, $4.5 million in Nov. 1979)

With this contract Ryan turned the primary participant to earn greater than $1 million in a season. He was two months shy of his thirty third birthday on the time, and that four-year contract produced a 2.91 ERA with 768 strikeouts in 829 1/3 innings (and one among his report seven no-hitters). Ryan led the Astros to their first ever postseason berth in 1980 and twice obtained Cy Younger votes throughout this contract. He spent a complete of 9 seasons with the Astros. It was a landmark signing for a corporation that, as much as that time, had a profitable report solely thrice in its first 18 seasons.

Honorable point out: RHP Roger Clemens, 2B Jeff Kent, RHP Charlie Morton, LHP Andy Pettitte

RHP David Cone (three years, $18 million in Dec. 1992)

This was a homecoming for Cone in additional methods than one. He grew up in Kansas Metropolis, was initially drafted by the Royals in 1981, and made his MLB debut for them in 1986 earlier than being traded away. This contract made Cone the highest-paid pitcher in baseball for a number of hours (the Braves signal Maddux quickly thereafter) and included an upfront $9 million signing bonus, which was unprecedented on the time. Cone gained the Cy Younger in 1994 and had a 3.17 ERA in 415 2/3 innings within the first two years of the contract. The Royals traded him to the Blue Jays previous to the third yr.

Honorable point out: OF Melky Cabrera, DH Kendrys Morales, RHP Edinson Vólquez

OF Vladimir Guerrero (5 years, $70 million in Jan. 2004)

Solely 28 on the time of the signing, Vlad Sr. was a five-tool celebrity who was named MVP within the first yr of the contract and later turned the primary participant with an Angels hat on his Corridor of Fame plaque. Guerrero hit .323/.387/.557 with 158 residence runs throughout the five-year contract, and obtained MVP votes all 5 seasons (together with two third-place finishes). He spent a sixth yr with the Angels earlier than shifting on later in his profession. All big-money free-agent contracts ought to work out this nicely.

Honorable point out: OF/DH Don Baylor, 2B Bobby Grich, OF Torii Hunter

IF Justin Turner (minor-league contract in Feb. 2014)

It is a powerful one. Kirk Gibson signed a three-year, $4.5 million contract in Jan. 1988 and was named MVP that yr, and in addition hit probably the most iconic residence runs in baseball historical past within the World Sequence. Accidents sabotaged his profession after that although (Gibson performed solely 160 video games within the closing two years of his three-year deal), permitting Turner to get the spot on our checklist. He initially signed a minor-league take care of Los Angeles believed to be value $1 million on the MLB degree, however he made the Opening Day roster that yr, and has been a lineup mainstay since. That minor-league deal spawned an eight-year (and counting) profession with the Dodgers that features a .298/.379/.498 batting line and one World Sequence title.

Honorable point out: OF Kirk Gibson, RHP Zack Greinke

RHP Kevin Brown (three years, $12.6 million in Dec. 1995)

Brown was an excellent pitcher who turned an incredible pitcher instantly upon becoming a member of the Marlins. He threw 233 innings with a 1.89 ERA in 1996 and completed second to John Smoltz within the Cy Younger voting. The subsequent yr Brown threw 237 1/3 innings with a 2.69 ERA, and was the ace of the franchise’s first World Sequence winner. The Marlins traded Brown to the Padres of their post-1997 hearth sale, although these two years had been loads adequate to land him on this checklist.

Honorable point out: OF Moises Alou, 1B Carlos Delgado, LHP Al Leiter

OF Lorenzo Cain (5 years, $80 million in Jan. 2018)

The pickings are slim for the Brewers. They haven’t had a lot success (or been all that energetic) in free company, which made the Cain signing so stunning. It was very out of character. Cain hit .308/.395/.417 with top-of-the-line protection in Yr 1 of his five-year contract, which earned him a seventh-place end within the MVP voting and helped the Brewers win their first division title in six years (and solely their second in 35 years). There’s nonetheless yet another yr to go on Cain’s deal and Years 2-4 weren’t almost as productive as Yr 1, however Yr 1 was adequate to get him on this checklist.

Honorable point out: 3B Sal Bando, OF Mike Cameron, 2B Willie Randolph

DH Chili Davis (two years, $4.5 million in Jan. 1991)

The Twins gained the World Sequence in 1987 after which spun their wheels a bit from 1988-90, so, throughout the 1990-91 offseason, they introduced in Davis to fortify the lineup and Jack Morris to strengthen the rotation. Davis was arguably the group’s greatest hitter throughout their 1991 World Sequence run and he hit .282/.385/.476 with 41 residence runs in his two years with Minnesota. Morris was excellent as nicely, and he had that memorable 10-inning efficiency in Sport 7 of the World Sequence. Davis will get the nod right here as a result of he gave the Twins two wonderful seasons. Morris solely performed the one yr with Minnesota.

Honorable point out: DH Nelson Cruz, RHP Jack Morris, DH Jim Thome

OF Carlos Beltrán (seven years, $119 million in Jan. 2005)

Beltrán virtually begged the Yankees to signal him in Jan. 2005, however he wound up throughout city with the Mets, the place he was extremely productive and in addition unfairly criticized all through his tenure. He hit a then-franchise report 41 residence runs in 2006 and put up a robust .280/.369/.500 batting line with wonderful protection for the Amazin’s. Beltrán was traded to the Giants for Zack Wheeler within the seventh yr of the seven-year deal, which was a pleasant going away current. Beltrán went to 5 All-Star Video games within the seven years and obtained MVP votes in 4 seasons, together with a fourth-place end in 2006.

Honorable point out: RHP R.A. Dickey, 1B John Olerud, 3B Robin Ventura

OF Reggie Jackson (5 years, $2.9 million in Nov. 1976)

The Yankees have signed so much — a lot — of marquee free brokers through the years, so now we have no scarcity of candidates to contemplate, however Jackson remains to be the straw that stirs the drink. The then-30-year-old Jackson joined a Yankees group that misplaced the World Sequence the earlier yr and had gone 14 years with out a title, then the longest drought in franchise historical past. He hit .281/.371/.526 with 144 residence runs throughout the five-year contract, led the Yankees to the 1977 and 1978 World Sequence titles, and was World Sequence MVP in 1977 because of his three-homer efficiency within the Sport 6 clincher. Jackson was an All-Star and obtained MVP votes all 5 years within the Bronx.

Honorable point out: 1B Jason Giambi, OF Hideki Matsui, RHP Mike Mussina, LHP CC Sabathia

RHP Dave Stewart (one-year, pro-rated minimal in Might 1986)

Previous to becoming a member of his hometown Athletics, Stewart was a journeyman who performed for 3 groups within the three earlier seasons. The Phillies launched him in Might 1986, he signed with the A’s quickly thereafter (the Orioles gave him a tryout too), they usually helped him add a forkball that turned him into one of many recreation’s most dominant pitchers. Stewart gained 20 video games 4 straight years from 1987-90, completed high 4 within the Cy Younger voting 4 straight years, and was World Sequence MVP in 1989. He went from midseason scrap heap pickup to the ace of a group that gained three straight pennants.

Honorable point out: OF Yoenis Céspedes, OF Dave Henderson, RHP Mike Moore

1B Pete Rose (4 years, $3.225 million in Dec. 1978)

The Phillies turned the Phillies in 1890, and from 1890-1975, the group went to the postseason simply twice (1915 and 1950 World Sequence losses). Then, from 1976-79, they made the NLCS annually, however once more misplaced. In an effort to recover from the hump, Philadelphia signed Rose, then 37, to a four-year deal that made him the highest-paid participant in baseball. Rose was an All-Star all 4 years of that contract, hitting .300/.375/.376 general. Most significantly, he led the franchise to its first ever World Sequence title in 1980. Rose spent one other yr with the Phillies past this preliminary four-year contract earlier than shifting on.

Honorable point out: OF Bryce Harper, LHP Cliff Lee, 1B Jim Thome

C Russell Martin (two years, $17 million in Nov. 2012)

To say the Pirates have been traditionally inactive in free company could be an understatement. There are simply no vital long-term offers to contemplate right here. Pittsburgh ended its 20-year postseason drought in 2013 because of giant half to Martin, who was wonderful behind the plate and productive at it, hitting .256/.362/.401 with 26 residence runs throughout his two years with the group. Martin’s all-around recreation at a premium place helped the Pirates to their most profitable run in 20 years.

Honorable point out:  LHP Francisco Liriano, OF Reggie Sanders

RHP Chris Carpenter (one yr, $300,000 in Dec. 2002)

A former first-round choose, Carpenter battled accidents and ineffectiveness early in his profession with the Blue Jays, and he missed the complete 2003 season with elbow and shoulder surgical procedure. When he returned in 2004, he was an on the spot ace, and he completed his profession having thrown over 1,300 innings with a 3.07 ERA with St. Louis. Carpenter was the Comeback Participant of the Yr in 2004 and the Cy Younger winner in 2005 (he had two different top-three Cy Younger finishes too), and he was the No. 1 starter throughout the group’s 2006 and 2011 title runs. The unique one-year contract was misplaced to harm, however getting Carpenter within the group and what got here subsequent will get him this spot.

Honorable point out: RHP Jason Isringhausen, C Darrell Porter

1B Steve Garvey (5 years, $6.6 million in Dec. 1982)

Signing Garvey, an eight-time All-Star and four-time pennant-winner (and one-time World Sequence champ), away from the rival Dodgers was a watershed second for the Padres. They’d been a pushover since becoming a member of the league as an growth group in 1969, and the Garvey signing signaled their intent to grow to be a authentic contender. Certain sufficient, Garvey went to 2 All-Star Video games with San Diego and led the group to the 1984 NL pennant. His two-run walk-off homer in opposition to Cubs nearer Lee Smith in Sport 4 of the 1984 NLCS very nicely may be the largest hit in franchise historical past.

Honorable point out: RHP Goose Gossage, 3B Manny Machado, C Gene Tenace

OF Barry Bonds (six years, $43 million in Dec. 1992)

On the time of this signing Bonds was already a two-time MVP and he was nonetheless solely 28 years previous. I reckon he would have fetched near $400 million in as we speak’s market. Because it stands, this contract made him the highest-paid participant in baseball. Bonds gained his third MVP in his first yr with the Giants, when he slugged 46 residence runs and hit .336/.458/.677. Throughout this six-year contract Bonds authored a .307/.445/.617 batting line and averaged 39 residence runs and 32 stolen bases per season. He was an All-Star all six years, gained 5 Gold Gloves, and 4 instances he completed within the high 5 of the MVP voting. Bonds’ record-breaking keep in San Francisco lasted 14 years.

Honorable point out: OF Brett Butler, OF Willie McGee

OF Ichiro Suzuki (three years, $14.088 million in Nov. 2000)

Though he was technically an MLB rookie, Ichiro was a 27-year-old Japanese league veteran who stepped proper into the Mariners lineup in 2001. He joined Fred Lynn as the one gamers to be named Rookie of the Yr and MVP in the identical season that yr, and would go on to hit .328/.374/.440 with 121 stolen bases and all-world protection throughout the preliminary three-year contract. Suzuki after all performed 14 seasons with Seattle general, and is likely one of the most vital gamers of the final 25 years or so. The Mariners paid his former group in Japan, the Orix Blue Wave, a $13.125 million posting price to accumulate his negotiating rights, so it was a contact over $27 million all-in to get Ichiro from 2001-03. It was nicely, nicely value it.

Honorable point out: 2B Bret Boone, DH Nelson Cruz, 1B John Olerud

RHP Charlie Morton (two years, $30 million in Dec. 2018)

The Rays run shoestring payrolls, so once they spend cash in free company, they actually should nail it, they usually actually did with Morton. The 35-year-old completed third within the Cy Younger voting his first season with Tampa, throwing a profession excessive 194 2/3 innings with 240 strikeouts and a 3.05 ERA. He helped Tampa snap their five-year postseason drought and gained the Wild Card Sport that yr as nicely. Yr 2 of Morton’s contract was minimize brief by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Rays absolutely want they’d saved him round in 2021 relatively than decline his $15 million membership choice.

Honorable point out: 3B Wade Boggs, 2B Akinori Iwara, RHP Fernando Rodney

3B Adrián Beltré (six years, $96 million in Jan. 2011)

Beltré signed with the Rangers at age 32, but he was already 13 years into his huge league profession. He aged exceptionally nicely — nicely sufficient that he’ll put on a Rangers cap into the Corridor of Fame — hitting .305/.358/.516 with a mean of 28 homers per season to associate with best-at-the-position caliber protection throughout the six-year contract. Beltré obtained MVP votes in all six seasons and completed as excessive as third within the voting, with three seventh-place finishes. Texas signed him after going to the franchise’s first World Sequence in 2010 and he acquired them again within the Fall Basic the following yr.

Honorable point out: 1B Rafael Palmeiro, RHP Colby Lewis, SS Alex Rodriguez, RHP Nolan Ryan

DH Paul Molitor (three years, $13 million in Dec. 1992)

Shut name right here, however I will take one World Sequence title over two Cy Youngs, so Molitor will get the nod over Roger Clemens (4 years, $40 million in Dec. 1996). The Blue Jays gained the World Sequence in 1992, then introduced in Molitor to switch fellow Corridor of Famer Dave Winfield at DH, and he hit .332/.402/.509 with a profession excessive 22 residence runs as Toronto repeated as World Sequence champs. Molitor was the MVP runner-up to Frank Thomas and gained World Sequence MVP honors that yr. Throughout his three years with the Blue Jays, Molitor put up a .315/.387/.484 batting line at ages 36-38.

Honorable point out: RHP Roger Clemens, RHP Jack Morris, OF Dave Winfield

RHP Max Scherzer (seven years, $210 million in Jan. 2015)

We began with a simple name and we’ll end with a simple name. On the time, Scherzer’s contract was the report for a pitcher who modified groups, and it has gone down as the most effective free-agent contracts in historical past. Scherzer had a 2.80 ERA with 1,610 strikeouts in 1,229 innings with Washington, and naturally led them to the franchise’s first World Sequence title in 2019. He gained two Cy Youngs throughout the contract, was runner-up as soon as, and completed third within the voting twice. Scherzer is all however sure to be the primary participant to put on a Nationals hat into the Corridor of Fame.

Honorable point out: 2B Daniel Murphy, OF Jayson Werth





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