Biggest MLB contracts in history: How Bryce Harper, Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado deals rank all-time

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The Manny Machado free agency tour wasn't the only thing to result in a record-breaking contract this MLB offseason.

With news of Machado's 10-year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres still visible in the rearview mirror, the Colorado Rockies made their own star infielder, Nolan Arenado, an even richer man in terms of average salary per season, reportedly striking an eight-year extension worth $260 million on Tuesday. Two days later, the Philadelphia Phillies caught arguably the biggest free agent fish in the pond, landing Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper on an even bigger 13-year, $330 million deal.

In dishing out huge dollars to Machado, Arenado and Harper, not only have the Padres, Rockies and Phillies brought immense life to a slow-dragging MLB offseason, but they've also made financial history.

While Machado's 10-year deal contract didn't quite eclipse the infamous 2014 Giancarlo Stanton deal in terms of total money, it instantly became one of the largest in baseball history, not to mention all of American professional sports. Arenado's deal, meanwhile, was right up there as well, with Harper's $330 million prize taking the cake.

Here's how each of the contracts stack up against the biggest all-time deals in MLB history, with numbers from Baseball Prospectus:

PlayerTeamContract LengthContract ValueAverage/Year
Bryce HarperPhiladelphia Phillies13 years$330 million$25.3 million

Giancarlo Stanton

Miami Marlins

13 years

$325 million

$25 million

Manny Machado

San Diego Padres

10 years

$300 million

$30 million

Alex Rodriguez

New York Yankees

10 years

$275 million

$27.5 million

Nolan Arenado

Colorado Rockies

8 years

$260 million

$32.5 million

Alex Rodriguez

Texas Rangers

10 years

$252 million

$25.2 million

Miguel Cabrera

Detroit Tigers

8 years

$248 million

$31 million

Albert Pujols

Los Angeles Angels

10 years

$240 million

$24 million

Robinson Cano

Seattle Mariners

10 years

$240 million

$24 million

Joey Votto

Cincinnati Reds

10 years

$225 million

$22.5 million

If you're looking just at average money per year, Machado's deal ranks just outside the top five, while Arenado's places second -- and first among position players. Harper, meanwhile, falls just outside the top 10 in that category despite landing the biggest total deal. Here's a look at the top current MLB contracts in terms of average salary per season:

  1. SP Zack Greinke, Arizona Diamondbacks: $34.4 million
  2. 3B Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies: $32.5 million
  3. SP David Price, Boston Red Sox: $31 million
  4. SP Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers: $31 million
  5. 1B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers: $31 million
  6. SS Manny Machado, San Diego Padres: $30 million
  7. SP Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals: $30 million
  8. CF Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets: $27.5 million
  9. SP Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs: $25.8 million

Beyond baseball, in terms of total money, Machado's contract clocked in as the third largest in all of sports, ranking behind those of only Stanton and boxer Canelo Álvarez ($365 million) among current deals.

If you dive a little deeper, the Padres' $300 million payout for Machado doesn't look quite as massive. (If, somehow, you can picture a $300 million contract as anything but massive.) As FanGraphs' Craig Edwards calculated this offseason, converting old contracts to today's dollars would indicate that Machado's deal is actually the 10th largest in baseball history rather than the second largest. Alex Rodriguez's 2001 contract would be worth a whopping $592 million in 2019 dollars.

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