The Miami Marlins are reportedly prepared to give Giancarlo Stanton a 13-year contract, worth approximately $325 million dollars. To paraphrase a recent NY Post headline regarding New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, that’s some serious you know what money. Given this recent revelation and the news that Brian Cashman and his goatee have exclaimed that the payroll of the 2015 New York Yankees would be high and impressive, I thought it would be a good time to look at some of the most grandiose contracts in club history.
With apologies to the likes of Dave Winfield and Babe Ruth, here’s a look back at some of the biggest Yankee signings of the past 15 years.
10.) A.J. Burnett (5-years, $82.5 million, 2009-2013) – A noted “Yankee killer” with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yanks signed Burnett with the intention of making him their second starter, as a big strikeout guy. During his time with New York, there was the good A.J. and the bad A.J. In 2009, Burnett led the league in walk-off pies. Burnett also won 13 games in that first campaign, giving the Yanks 33 starts and 207 innings pitched. In helping the Yankees to a 2009 World Series title, Burnett was sharp in the ALDS against the Minnesota Twins. After the Yankees got shellacked in Game 1 of the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Burnett twirled a gem in Game 2 at Yankee Stadium, going seven strong innings with nine K’s for the victory. Following that, it was a mixed bag for Burnett in the Bronx, where he won 34 games in total, before eventually getting traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
9.) Bernie Williams (7-years, $87.5 million, 1999-2006) – Bernie Baseball was the first of the new wave of homegrown Yankee stars in the 1990’s and rather than risk losing him to Boston or Arizona, the club rewarded him accordingly. Fresh off a batting title and gold glove, Williams was the center-fielder and cleanup hitter on the best single season Yanks team ever. To that point, Williams also had a pair of titles, an ALCS MVP in 1996 and had established himself as one of the most clutch postseason performers of his era. Although he didn’t win the batting crown in ’99, Williams did hit for a higher average, posting a career best .342 ledger. Williams was also an All-Star three-times from 1999-01. Bernie also captured two gold gloves during that time. In 2000, Bernie would clock a career high 30 home runs and drive in what was also a career best of 121-RBI. Williams would help New York win two additional titles and they would also win two more pennants following that. From 1999-2006, Williams hit 13 postseason home runs and drove in 51 runs. Although his range and numbers suffered a bit of a drop-off toward the end, Bernie was always a battler and beloved by the fans until and after his “retirement.”
8.) Mike Mussina (6-years, $88.5 million, 2001-2008) – The reluctant ace. When the Yankees inked the man called “Moose,” they anticipated him taking over for David Cone. Although he may not have measured up to Cone in the postseason or his Baltimore days, Mussina was a superb signing for the Yanks. Mussina posted double-digit wins in every season he donned Pinstripes, capping off his Bronx tenure with a 20-win campaign in 2008. Mussina would post 123 victories in all with the Yanks, for a .631 winning percentage. In 2001, “Moose” finished fifth in Cy Young voting, while placing sixth in 2008. While he didn’t win a ring with the Yanks, he did help pitch them to the post season seven times and twice to the pennant. His most memorable moments in October include a relief appearance in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, a year in which he would register a victory in Game 3 of the World Series and of course his 2001 outing in Game 3 of the ALDS.
7.) Jason Giambi (7-years, $120 million, 2002-2008) – From tremendous to tumultuous, that pretty much summarizes the Giambi era in New York. Beloved in the clubhouse, his alleged enhanced numbers were touching Lou Gehrig levels on the early side of this deal. Although Giambi would have a difficult time ever filling the shoes of Tino Martinez. Between 2002 and 2003, Giambi smacked a combined 82 home runs. Giambi posted five seasons of 30-plus home runs in New York. Giambi was a three-time AL All-Star and had one top-five finish in MVP voting in 2002. Giambi also hit a pair of clutch home runs off Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. The alleged performance enhancing drug allegations, coupled with the resulting injuries, hampered Giambi from truly replicating the numbers from his Oakland days.
6.) Jacoby Ellsbury (7-years, $153 million, 2014-2020) – There were questions abound regarding the health and durability of Ellsbury. All he did was go out and play a team leading 149 games in 2014. Ellsbury was a catalyst for the Yanks, whether batting third or in the top spot, there was no doubting his penchant for being the ultimate gamer, with a plethora of talent. Along with flashy defense, Ellsbury hit 16 round trippers and swiped 39 bags.
5.) Masahiro Tanaka (7-years, $155 million, 2014-2020) – With his on-field performance and off-field marketability, Tanaka made for appointment TV in 2014. Tanaka pitched an electric first half and was named an AL All-Star before injuring his elbow. Tanaka won 13 games on the campaign and pitched to a sparkling 2.77 ERA. That was good enough to Tanaka to place fifth in AL Rookie of the Year voting. Had he pitched a full season, Tanaka may have gotten Cy Young attention, he’s still that good. While the jury is still out on his health, Tanaka is a proven commodity for the Yankees.
4.) CC Sabathia (7-years, $161 million, 2009-2015) – You couldn’t ask for a better person or pitcher than CC Sabathia. Much like Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Sabathia became a team leader and helped bring back a World Series title to the Bronx in 2009. In his first year in Pinstripes, Sabathia lead the junior circuit with 19 wins, ranked fourth in AL Cy Young voting and earned the ALCS MVP. Sabathia was also a workhorse in 2010, leading the league with 34 starts and 21 victories, finishing third in Cy Young voting. In 2011, Sabathia would win a solid 19 more and place fourth in the Cy Young race. In 2012, Sabathia would garner his third straight All-Star selection. Yet, much like A-Rod after his opt-out, injuries have hampered Sabathia. Wear and tear and various injuries have left the Yankees and Sabathia contemplating just how much he has left in the tank.
3.) Mark Teixeira (8-years, $180 million, 2009-2016) – Much like the Giambi deal, quick dividends that paid off but then a dramatic drop off. In 2009, Teixeira burst onto the Bronx scene, belting a league leading 39 home runs, along with a league best 122-RBI. In helping the Yanks to a World Series title in 2009, Teixeira, who also played gold glove defense at first base, finished second in AL MVP voting. Although his average was drop off, Teixeira would still swat a representative 72 home runs between 2010 and 2011. While his defense has remained sharp and he still provides some pop when healthy, Teixeira has been befuddled by a multitude of frustrating injuries. The Yankees hope he can get past the injuries and the shift, going forward.
2.) Derek Jeter (10-years, $189 million, 2001-2010) – This deal all but cemented Jeter as the permanent face of the franchise. Fresh off a fourth World Series title, along with a World Series and All-Star Game MVP, Jeter made good on his pact. In 2001, Jeter swatted 21 home runs and became famous for the flip-play and the moniker of Mr. November. During the span of this deal, Jeter was an eight-time All-Star, batted .300 or better, seven times. Jeter also finished in the top ten in MVP voting, four times. Jeter also had four 200-hit seasons in this time frame. Plus, Jeter helped the Yankees to the playoffs in every year but one, guiding New York to three pennants and a 2009 World Series title, hitting .407 in that Fall Classic.
1.) Alex Rodriguez (10-years, $275 million, 2008-2017) – A deal signed at a time when alleged performance enhanced players were still playing at a productive level, into their 40’s. Getting past the suspension (which the Yankees were able to recoup some money paid out to a now oft injured player) and off-field drama, one could say the Yanks have gotten 3 1/2 decent years of production on this contract. Mind you nothing matching his 2007 opt out season but his did lead the league in slugging percentage in 2008. From 2008 to 2011, A-Rod had three All-Star appearances, three seasons of at least 30 home runs, two top ten MVP finishes and he helped the Yankees immensely during their run to a 2009 World Series title. The ugly flip-side of that is he has played in just 44 games since 2013 and still has $61 million due to him through age 42.