Predicting Which MLB Players Will Soon Join the $200M Contract Club
There have been 23 different contracts in excess of $200 million handed out in MLB history. The first came on Dec. 11, 2000, when Alex Rodriguez inked a 10-year, $252 million deal with the Texas Rangers.
This past offseason, shortstop Corey Seager became the latest player to join that exclusive club when he signed a 10-year, $325 million contract with the Texas Rangers. At least a few more names likely will be added to the list in the coming years.
Here, we've taken a crack at predicting the next seven MLB players to receive a $200 million contract. It's a mix of upcoming free agents and extension candidates, but all could conceivably agree to a new megadeal sometime in the next calendar year.
Others to Consider
SS Carlos Correa
The Minnesota Twins signed Carlos Correa to a three-year, $105.3 million deal during the offseason, but the contract includes opt-outs after the 2022 and 2023 seasons. If he decides to test the open market again, he would have no problem breaking getting $200 million. The question is how much higher than $200 million his asking price will be, and whether he'll instead choose to maximize his earning power on short-term deals.
RHP Jacob deGrom
The best pitcher in baseball when healthy, Jacob deGrom has not taken the mound in a MLB game since July 7, 2021. While he could return later this month, his recent arm issues could make teams more hesitant to sign him to a long-term deal, which could in turn make him decide against opting out this coming offseason. Short-term, big-money deals might be his best approach going forward.
OF Juan Soto
After Juan Soto reportedly rejected a 13-year, $350 million extension offer in February, it's hard to see the Washington Nationals finding a way to lock up their homegrown superstar long-term. He'll be a free agent after the 2024 season, at which point he seems likely to test the open market.
SS Xander Bogaerts
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts still has four years and $80 million left on the six-year, $120 million extension he signed with the Boston Red Sox in March 2019, but he can opt out for the first and only time this coming offseason.
"According to sources close to Bogaerts, the shortstop currently plans on opting out of the contract after 2022, but hopes to remain in Boston and finish his career with the Red Sox," ESPN's Joon Lee reported last October.
The 29-year-old is one of the game's premier offensive players, and he has expressed a willingness to shift to second base or third base in the future, which should help him age better.
If Marcus Semien could get a seven-year, $175 million deal last offseason when he was a year older and had a shorter track record of success, Bogaerts should have no trouble eclipsing $200 million, regardless of whether he re-signs with Boston or heads elsewhere.
RHP Walker Buehler
With the Clayton Kershaw era winding to a close, the Los Angeles Dodgers already have their next homegrown ace in Walker Buehler.
The 27-year-old has gone 45-14 with a 2.86 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 669 strikeouts in 622.2 innings since the start of the 2018 season, making a pair of All-Star appearances and finishing in the top 10 in NL Cy Young voting twice along the way.
He is currently playing on a two-year, $8 million deal that bought out his first two years of arbitration, and he'll be arbitration-eligible in 2023 and 2024 before hitting the open market for the first time after the 2024 season.
The only pitcher in MLB history to sign an extension north of $200 million is Kershaw. All of the other $200 million deals given out to pitchers have been via free agency.
The Dodgers have done a great job developing pitching in recent years, but there's a case to be made that Buehler is the team's most important player going forward.
3B Rafael Devers
If Xander Bogaerts does indeed opt out of his contract with the Boston Red Sox this winter, there is no guarantee he won't find a better offer elsewhere. That could in turn make locking up Rafael Devers the Red Sox's No. 1 priority.
Still only 25 years old, Devers is already in his sixth MLB season. He's hitting .341/.371/.603 for a career-high 170 OPS+ with 21 doubles, 11 home runs and 2.6 WAR through 51 games.
Devers is earning $11.2 million this year and he has one year of arbitration control remaining before he hits free agency for the first time during the 2023-24 offseason.
Devers and the Red Sox talked about an extension prior to the season, but they were reportedly "very far off" in negotiations and nothing came to fruition. Expect those talks to be revisited this coming winter, and with a higher sense of urgency.
OF Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge publicly rejected a seven-year, $213.5 million extension offer from the New York Yankees just before Opening Day, betting on himself in a contract year.
So far, so good on that bet.
The 30-year-old is hitting .303/.371/.657 with an MLB-leading 18 home runs and 38 RBI in 47 games. He has also proved capable of playing center field on a semi-regular basis to further add to his appeal.
The injury red flags are still there, but Judge played 148 games last year and has been healthy so far this season. As long as he can stay upright the rest of the way, that shouldn't be a limiting factor in his free-agent market this coming offseason.
RHP Joe Musgrove
With all due respect to Sean Manaea, Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Bassitt and aging veterans Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw, there is little question that Joe Musgrove will be the most appealing candidate for a long-term deal among starting pitchers in the upcoming free-agent class.
The 29-year-old took a significant step forward in his San Diego Padres debut last year, posting a 3.18 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 203 strikeouts in 181.1 innings. He has been even better in the early going this year.
Through nine starts, Musgrove is 5-0 with a 1.86 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 58 strikeouts in 58 innings. His nine quality starts lead all pitchers.
Robbie Ray (five years, $115 million) and Kevin Gausman (five years, $110 million) fell well short of the $200 million mark last offseason, but Musgrove has been more consistent over the course of his career. The short supply of impact arms in this year's free-agent class is working in his favor, too.
DH/RHP Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani signed a two-year, $8.5 million deal in 2021 to buy out his first two years of arbitration. He likely cost himself a nice chunk of change in the process with a modest $5.5 million salary this year coming off his AL MVP win.
Ohtani is under club control via arbitration for one more year in 2023 before reaching free agency, and a record-setting deal could be forthcoming
The recent extensions handed out to Mookie Betts (12 years, $365 million) and Francisco Lindor (10 years, $341 million) could be a starting point in negotiations. But given Ohtani's unique profile as a two-way player, it's difficult to come up with a good contract comparison.
Is a 10-year, $400 million deal out of the question?
Regardless, he'll have no problem blowing past $200 million with his next contract. It bears watching whether the Los Angeles Angels can find a way to keep Ohtani and Mike Trout together long-term, though.
SS Trea Turner
After watching former teammate Corey Seager skip town to sign a 10-year, $325 million contract with the Texas Rangers, expect Trea Turner to be seeking a similar payday this winter as co-headliner of the upcoming free-agent class alongside Aaron Judge.
The 28-year-old is one of the most complete players in baseball.
Turner led the NL in batting average (.328), hits (195) and steals (32) last season while hitting a career-high 28 home runs and making a seamless transition from shortstop to second base defensively to accommodate Seager.
Back at his natural shortstop position this year, Turner has been extremely productive once again with a 127 OPS+, 20 extra-base hits, 10 steals and 1.3 WAR in 50 games.
Turner's age, skill set and history of good health give him a great chance of not only joining the $200 million club, but the even more exclusive $300 million club.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and accurate through Wednesday's games.