Here are the largest free-agent contracts in MLB history

December 22nd, 2023

We've seen some massive free-agent deals signed in recent offseasons. Aaron Judge set a new standard when he reached a nine-year, $360 million deal with the Yankees at the 2022 Winter Meetings.

But that record would not last for long. Shortly after the conclusion of the 2023 Winter Meetings, Shohei Ohtani ended his much-hyped free agency by agreeing to a monumental deal with the Dodgers, worth a whopping $700 million over 10 years. It also set, by far, a record for average annual value.

Here are the 10 biggest free-agent contracts in MLB history, both by total value and average annual value.

(Note: These don't include contract extensions where the player didn't actually become a free agent, like the 12-year, $426.5 million extension Mike Trout signed with the Angels on March 20, 2019.)

1. Shohei Ohtani, Dodgers: 10 years, $700 million (2024-2033)

Wow. When Ohtani reached free agency after the 2023 season, heading toward his second AL MVP Award in three years, it was a foregone conclusion that he would set a record for the largest contract in MLB history. Many estimates had him approaching or exceeding $500 million and perhaps even challenging $600 million. Even that turned out to be low. Ohtani's deal nearly doubles the previous record for total guaranteed dollars on a new contract, and perhaps that's appropriate given that his two-way status (although elbow surgery will keep him off the mound in 2024.)

And this goes beyond MLB or baseball in general. Ohtani's new deal is believed to be the largest handed out by any team to any athlete in sports history. However, it is worth noting that, according to executive reporter Mark Feinsand, Ohtani’s deal includes unprecedented deferrals. A source told Feinsand that Ohtani will be deferring $680 million of the $700 million until after the life of the 10-year deal.

2. Aaron Judge, Yankees: 9 years, $360 million (2023-31)

Judge bet on himself when he declined the Yankees’ $213.5 million extension offer shortly before Opening Day in 2022, and it paid off in a big way. The 6-foot-7 outfielder had arguably the greatest free-agent walk year of all time, winning the AL MVP Award after setting an AL record with 62 homers and flirting with the Triple Crown. Despite serious overtures from the hometown Giants, Judge opted to return to the Yankees.

3. Bryce Harper, Phillies: 13 years, $330 million (2019-31)

Harper's impending free agency defined his final season with the Nationals and dominated headlines all the way into the second week of Spring Training games, and a number of factors collaborated along the way to get Bryce to the top of this list. At the time, his deal was the largest free-agent contract in the history of the four major North American professional sports. Harper won his second career National League MVP Award in 2021 and led the Phillies to a World Series appearance in 2022, earning NLCS MVP honors along the way.

4. (tie) Corey Seager, Rangers: 10 years, $325 million (2022-31)

Seager earned his historic deal on the heels of slashing .306/.394/.521 with 16 home runs, 57 RBIs and a .915 OPS in 95 games for the Dodgers in 2021. That came one year after finishing ninth in 2020 National League MVP voting and earning MVP honors in both the NLCS and World Series en route to Los Angeles' title run. Along with his pair of postseason MVP Awards, Seager was also the 2016 NL Rookie of the Year and he was a two-time All-Star before signing his historic deal at the age of 27.

4. (tie) Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Dodgers: 12 years, $325 million

In part because of the historic deferrals in Shohei Ohtani's contract, the Dodgers were able to land the biggest pitching prize on the 2023 free-agent market as well. Yamamoto's $325 million deal represents the most guaranteed dollars ever given to a pitcher, though the average annual value of his deal is below Gerrit Cole's, the next entry on this list.

6. Gerrit Cole, Yankees: 9 years, $324 million (2020-28)

With Cole’s deal setting a record for pitchers, both of the top two free-agent deals by total value were given to No. 1 overall picks before Cole was surpassed by Seager, Judge and Ohtani. Cole was taken first overall by the Pirates in 2011, while Harper was first overall in ‘10. Cole’s nine years are also the second most for any pitcher contract, trailing only Wayne Garland’s 10-year contract in the 1970s, in a far different era of free agency.

7. (tie) Manny Machado, Padres: 10 years, $300 million (2019-28)

Machado holds the distinction as being the first $300 million free agent in MLB history with the deal he inked with San Diego. An elite offense/defense two-way player, Machado finished among the top three in the NL MVP race twice over his first four seasons with San Diego and led the club to a 2022 NLCS appearance.

7. (tie) Trea Turner, Phillies: 11 years, $300 million (2023-33)

On the heels of a World Series appearance in 2022, the Phillies reeled in another big free-agent fish and filled their hole at shortstop by striking a $300 million deal with Turner, reuniting the speedster with his good friend and former Nationals teammate, Harper.

It marked the second straight offseason the Dodgers saw a shortstop leave their team in free agency for a contract worth at least $300 million with another club, as Turner followed Seager out the door. A two-time All-Star and 2019 World Series champion with the Nats, Turner hit .298 with 21 homers and 27 steals for the Dodgers in 2022.

9. Xander Bogaerts, Padres: 11 years, $280 million (2023-33)

Bogaerts truly began fulfilling the potential the Red Sox saw in him when they signed him as a 16-year-old out of Aruba when he had a breakout season in 2018. From 2018-22, the four-time All-Star slashed .301/.373/.508 with 105 homers while racking up 23.3 Baseball Reference wins above replacement for Boston.

10. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: 10 years, $275 million (2008-17)

In the middle of Game 4 of the 2007 World Series, Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, announced that A-Rod would be opting out of the final three years of his contract with the Yankees. (This was the 10-year, $252 million contract he had originally signed with the Rangers prior to the '01 season, which carried over to New York when he was traded in '04.) The timing created a torrent of controversy, and it seemed like Rodriguez's tenure with the Yankees was over. Rodriguez would later call the opt-out a "huge debacle" and a "mistake that was handled extremely poorly."

Seeking to repair the relationship and re-open negotiations, A-Rod approached the Yankees through a Goldman Sachs managing director, and the two sides were able to work out a new deal in mid-December. That deal was the richest free-agent contract in MLB history. Rodriguez would go on to lead the Bronx Bombers to their 27th World Series championship in 2009. "All along," A-Rod said after reaching his new deal, "I knew I wanted to be a Yankee."

Total value isn't the only way to look at player contracts, as the length of the deal also matters. Here's a list of the biggest MLB free-agent contracts by the amount they were worth per year.

Top 10 free-agent contracts by average annual value

1. Shohei Ohtani, Dodgers: $70 million (2024-33)

2t. Max Scherzer, Mets: $43,333,333 (2022-24)

2t. Justin Verlander, Mets: $43,333,333 (2023-24)

4. Aaron Judge, Yankees: $40 million (2023-31)

5. Jacob deGrom, Rangers: $37 million (2023-27)

6. Gerrit Cole, Yankees: $36 million (2020-28)

7t. Stephen Strasburg, Nationals: $35 million (2020-26)

7t. Anthony Rendon, Angels: $35 million (2020-26)

9. Zack Greinke, D-backs: $34,416,666 (2016-21)

10. Trevor Bauer, Dodgers: $34 million (2021-23)