Ranking Prince Fielder's Whopper of a Deal Against MLB's Fattest Contracts Ever

Colton Kokrda@kokrdaCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2012

Ranking Prince Fielder's Whopper of a Deal Against MLB's Fattest Contracts Ever

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    Last Thursday, Prince Fielder was officially introduced as the newest member of the Detroit Tigers, after signing a nine-year, $214 million contract.

    Among those in Major League Baseball, Fielder's deal currently ranks as the fourth-largest contract ever given out in history.

    I will rank the top 10 worst mega contracts given out to date.

    Please note, the list is difficult to determine because two of the contracts were just signed this year, and multiple other contracts are still currently in effect.

10. Alex Rodriguez (Rangers)

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    Contract Details

    Length: 10 years

    Amount: $252 million

    Duration: 2001-2010 (Opted out after 2007 season)

    Age at Signing: 25

    Age at Conclusion: 35 (31 due to opting out)

    Average Per Year: $25.2 million

    Average Per Game: $155,555.56

    Special Notes: Opt-out clause after the 2007 season

    The only reason this contract is being included is due to its sheer size. Back in 2001, Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks was desperate to make a splash and add some offense. This resulted in the then most lucrative contract to be handed out to an athlete.

    Normally, paying a player that kind of money would land him higher on this list. However, you can't argue with Alex Rodriguez's production as a Ranger.

    In his three seasons with the Rangers, these were his statistics:

    2001: .318 BA, 133 R, 52 HR, 135 RBI, 18 SB

    2002: .300 BA, 125 R, 57 HR, 142 RBI, 9 SB, Gold Glove Award

    2003: .298 BA, 124 R, 47 HR, 118 RBI, 17 SB, Gold Glove Award, MVP

    After the 2003 season, he was traded to the New York Yankees, where he went on to win another two MVP awards prior to opting out of his contract. This contract was also hurtful for the Rangers after they traded A-Rod, as they were paying close to $15 million of the contract each season.

9. Prince Fielder

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    Contract Details

    Length: Nine years

    Amount: $214 million

    Duration: 2012-2020

    Age at Signing: 27

    Age at Conclusion: 36

    Average Per Year: $23,777,777

    Average Per Game: $146,776.40

    This is one of the deals that is difficult to gauge as far as where it belongs in the top 10 worst contracts, however No. 9 is suiting. Prince Fielder's recent deal was thought of as quite a surprise in the industry. The Tigers were a late suitor for his services after the injury to Victor Martinez.

    There are a few reasons why this contract will not prove to be a disaster.

    First and foremost, Fielder is switching over to the American League. This means, toward the end of his contract, if he is no longer able to effectively play first base, he is able to switch over to the full-time DH.

    Secondly, Fielder is still only 27 years old. At the end of this contract, he will only be 36 years old. Not to mention, the Tigers have Victor Martinez's contract and Miguel Cabrera's contract coming off the books during the duration of Fielder's contract, so that frees up the space to let Fielder serve as the DH.

8. Albert Pujols

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    Contract Details

    Length: 10 years

    Amount: $254 million

    Duration: 2012-2021

    Age at Signing: 32

    Age at Conclusion: 42

    Average Per Year: $25.4 Million

    Average Per Game: $156,790.12

    This is another one of the contracts that is difficult to place in the rankings. However, just like Prince Fielder, this deal will ultimately not be considered a bust.

    Albert Pujols is arguably the best hitter of this generation and has widely been considered the most dominant hitter in baseball for the last few seasons.

    Pujols is also moving over into the American League, which means toward the end of his contract, he can shift into a full-time DH position.

    The scary thing about this contract, which is what places it on this list, is his age at the end of the contract. He is currently 32 years old, which will make him a frightening 42 years old at the end of this contract.

    The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are certainly hoping that his health will hold up over the years.

7. Mike Hampton

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    Contract Details

    Length: 8 Years

    Amount: $121 million

    Duration: 2001-2008

    Age at Signing: 28

    Age at Conclusion: 36

    Average Per Year: $15,125,000

    Average Per Game: $93,364.20

    During the offseason between 2000 and 2001, Mike Hampton was regarded as one of the top pitchers available. He was putting together a string of nice seasons leading into his free agency.

    1998 (HOU): 11-7, 3.36 ERA, 211.2 IP, 137 K

    1999 (HOU): 22-4, 2.90 ERA, 239.0 IP, 177 K, second in Cy Young voting

    2000 (NYM): 15-10, 3.14 ERA, 217.2 IP, 151 K

    Needless to say, the Colorado Rockies were expecting to get a pitcher that was in his prime, throwing 200-plus innings of around 3.25-ERA baseball. What they ended up getting:

    2001: 14-13, 5.41 ERA, 203.0 IP, 122 K

    2002: 7-15, 6.15 ERA, 178.2 IP, 74 K

    After the 2002 season, the Rockies traded Hampton to the Atlanta Braves, where he fared better than in Colorado, but still did not experience the same success he had prior to his large contract.

6. Alfonso Soriano

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    Contract Details

    Length: Eight years

    Amount: $136 million

    Duration: 2007-2014

    Age at Signing: 31

    Age at Conclusion: 39

    Average per Year: $17 Million

    Average per Game: $104,938.27

    Heading into the offseason, Alfonso Soriano was considered to be one of the best players available. He was coming off of a 46-HR, 41-SB season with the Washington Nationals in 2006. He possessed the rare and coveted combination of speed and power.

    However, after signing with the Chicago Cubs, he has not lived up to those expectations.

    His last few seasons have seen his average dip below .260 (.241, .258, .244 in '09, '10 and '11, respectively), his HRs hover around 25 a season and his steals diminish to single-digits.

    Package in his shaky defensive skills as time goes on, and Soriano's contract looks worse and worse as he gets older.

5. Joe Mauer

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    Contract Details

    Length: Eight years

    Amount: $184 million

    Duration: 2011-2017

    Age at Signing: 28

    Age at Conclusion: 36

    Average per Year: $23 million

    Average per Game: $141,975.31

    Going into the 2010 season, Joe Mauer and the Minnesota Twins agreed to a contract extension that would keep Mauer in the Twin Cities until 2017. Many teams were salivating at the chance to get to bid on Mauer in free agency, however they were never given that chance.

    The reason this contract ranks so highly on my list is because of Mauer's position. As a catcher, it is very difficult to maintain your health, especially with Mauer's build. At 6'5", 235 pounds, catching takes its toll on a body.

    The Twins have recognized this, as they played Mauer at first base and even right field last season.

    This contract extension was also viewed as a reward for his stellar 2009 season that saw him win the AL MVP. In 2009, Mauer hit .365 with 28 HR and 96 RBI, which is unheard of for a catcher. In 2010, he followed that up with a .327 average but saw his power disappear, hitting only nine HR.

    In 2011, he regressed even more, hitting .287 with only three HR.

    Needless to say, the Twins were expecting more seasons with a .320-plus BA and 20-plus HR from their star catcher if they were going to pay him an average of $23 million a season. They could get the production they received from Mauer last season for no more than $5 million.

4. Johan Santana

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    Contract Details

    Length: Six years

    Amount: $137.5 million

    Duration: 2008-2013

    Age at Signing: 29

    Age at Conclusion: 35

    Average per Year: $22,916,667

    Average per Game:  $141,460.91

    In the offseason between 2007 and 2008, Johan Santana was one of the most coveted starters available on the trade market. Widely considered to be a battle between the two New York teams, the Mets ultimately won the bidding and acquired him, then signed him to this extension.

    While with the Twins, he was widely considered to be one of, if not the very best pitcher in the majors. Between 2004 and 2007, he amassed a total of 983 strikeouts, an ERA of 2.89 over the four seasons and a record of 70-32.

    The only season he approached those numbers with the Mets was his first season.

    Since his first season, Johan has seen his strikeouts diminish greatly, and he has dealt with various shoulder injuries. He missed all of 2011 and is believed to be able to return for the 2012 season.

    For this contract to start to look good for the Mets, they need Santana to approach the numbers he posted in his first season with the team.

3. Alex Rodriguez (Yankees)

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    Contract Details

    Length: 10 years

    Amount: $275 million

    Duration: 2008-2017

    Age at Signing: 32

    Age at Conclusion: 42

    Average per Year: $27.5 million

    Average per Game: $169,753.09

    Special Notes on Contract: Performance incentives (HR milestones) can push total value of contract over $300 million

    After Alex Rodriguez opted out of his first mega deal, it was widely believed that the Yankees were not going to pursue him again and re-sign him to a new deal. However, A-Rod went behind his agent's (Scott Boras) back and negotiated a deal with Yankee ownership to keep him in pinstripes for what is likely the rest of his career.

    This contract provided A-Rod with a raise to his already ludicrous $25 million a season. Not to mention, A-Rod has been bitten by the injury bug the last few seasons. Last season, he only played in 99 games, which is the first time in his career as a starter that he has failed to reach 100 games.

    In his first four years with the Yankees, A-Rod was a huge producer for the offense. He won two AL MVP awards and hit 36, 48, 35 and 54 HRs in those four years. In his last four years with the Yankees, he has only managed to hit 35, 30, 30 and 16 HRs, respectively.

    For this deal to make any sense for the Yankees, they are hoping that A-Rod will be able to stay healthy and bump his HR total back up over 30.

2. Vernon Wells

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    Contract Details

    Length: Seven years

    Amount: $126 million

    Duration: 2008-2014

    Age at Signing: 29

    Age at Conclusion: 36

    Average per Year: $18 million

    Average per Game: $111,111.11

    Vernon Wells was a beloved member of the Toronto Blue Jays prior to the signing of this contract. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2002, he brought a combination of power, excellent defense and durability to the Blue Jays.

    He won three consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 2004-2006, and despite having a "down" year in 2007, he signed this extension with the Blue Jays.

    In 2008, Wells was doing his best to show the contract was a good move offensively by hitting .300 with 20 HR. However, his defense took a serious slip, as he went from a 4.7 UZR in 2007 to -12.9 in 2008 and a -16.6 UZR in 2009.

    Wells' contract was viewed as being so poor that the Blue Jays were rumored to be desperately trying to trade him. They found a suitor with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last offseason, receiving Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera.

    Last season with the Angels, Wells only managed a .218 BA with 25 HR. His defense improved from 2008 and 2009, however it was only at a -3.1 UZR, which is still far below a desired level.

1. Barry Zito

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    Contract Details

    Length: Seven years

    Amount: $126 million

    Duration: 2007-2013

    Age at Signing: 29

    Age at Conclusion: 36

    Average per Year: $18 million

    Average per Game: $111,111.11

    In the offseason between 2006 and 2007, Barry Zito signed what was at the time the largest contract ever for a pitcher. He was coming off of yet another successful season with the Oakland A's before he was brought over to the Giants.

    In his seven years with the A's, this was his total stat line: 102-63, 3.55 ERA, 1430.1 IP, 1096 K.

    Since joining the Giants, Zito has yet to post a winning record. He has also yet to post an ERA under 4.00, when he had previously only failed to do so once in his career.

    His stat line as a Giant: 43-61, 4.55 ERA, 821.2 IP, 587 K.

    Needless to say, the Giants were expecting much better production out of Zito when they signed him to his mega deal. Last season, he was removed from the starting rotation and only pitched 53.2 innings, making over $18 million.

    Ouch. That is what makes his contract the worst of the mega deals.