The 7 biggest contracts in Mets history

November 29th, 2021

NEW YORK -- Since owner Steve Cohen took over the Mets late in 2020, the team has been agreeing to significant contracts with more regularity. Under Cohen, the Mets are treading in places they never did in the past, most recently with a three-year, $130 million commitment to .

While Scherzer’s deal isn’t close to the Mets’ largest outlay of total dollars, it’s the biggest in Major League history in terms of average annual value. Here’s a look at how Scherzer’s contract stacks up with the richest in franchise history:

1. : 10 years, $341 million

The Mets tacked their record Lindor extension onto his 2021 salary for a total commitment of 11 years and $363.3 million. By itself, Lindor’s extension was the third-largest in Major League history and the largest for a shortstop, eclipsing Fernando Tatis Jr.’s deal by $1 million. The contract will take Lindor through his age-37 season.

It was a monumental commitment for a team that acquired Lindor and pitcher Carlos Carrasco from the Indians in a six-player deal in January 2021. Two months later, the Mets extended Lindor rather than let him play out his final season of team control on an expiring contract.

2. : eight years, $138 million

Wright was a year away from free agency when he signed his pact in November 2012, which effectively made him a Met for life. Given the market forces in play at the time, he might have received tens of millions more on the open market, but Wright made it clear that staying in New York was his priority. In terms of numbers, the contract wound up being something of a bust; Wright delivered his seventh and final All-Star campaign in 2013, but never played a full season nor compiled a 20-homer season after signing the $138 million deal. Back, neck and shoulder injuries were the culprits.

Still, the contract gave the Mets reason to name Wright the fourth captain in franchise history, ensuring his place in Mets lore. Rather than risk Wright shifting his legacy elsewhere, the Mets committed to him for life. They played host to his emotional comeback at Citi Field last season, named him a front-office advisor and will remain entwined with him forever. Combined with the tens of millions Mets ownership recouped through an insurance policy on Wright’s contract, this hardly wound up being a bad deal for the team.

3. : five years, $137.5 million

Time will tell if deGrom can outperform his contract, but as in Wright’s case, this deal gives him a chance to play his entire career for the Mets. That’s worth something well beyond his ERA.

While few expected deGrom to replicate his otherworldly 2018 season even once, he did so the following year, winning a second Cy Young Award. deGrom then submitted spectacular but injury-addled seasons in the next two years of his extension, fueling speculation as to whether he might opt out when eligible following Year 4. That will depend largely upon the long-term health of deGrom, who underwent Tommy John surgery as a prospect in 2010 and had made most of his starts until the second half of 2021.

4. : six years, $137.5 million

This contract extension was a condition of the Mets trading for Santana, a two-time American League Cy Young Award winner, before the 2008 season. He was supposed to put the team over the top after its 2007 September collapse, but even one of Santana’s best seasons ever -- a 2.53 ERA in 234 1/3 innings -- was not enough. Injury struck for the first time in 2009, then again in 2010, when Santana underwent major shoulder surgery. He returned two years later to throw the only no-hitter in franchise history, but started only 10 more games in his career.

All told, Santana threw 717 innings with a 3.18 ERA over parts of four seasons with the Mets. He never appeared in a postseason game and, in two of the six years he was under contract, he did not pitch at all.

5. Scherzer: three years, $130 million

Scherzer’s deal was remarkable in that he was 37 years old when he signed it, a future Hall of Famer with three Cy Young Awards already to his credit. The $43.3 million average annual value of Scherzer’s contract dwarfed Gerrit Cole’s record for highest in Major League history. And while the total value wasn’t close to any MLB records, it was enough to clock in fifth on the list of largest Mets contracts.

Since declining a reported six-year, $144 million extension from the Tigers in 2014, Scherzer has signed deals worth $210 million and $130 million over 10 seasons. His current pact with the Mets includes an opt-out after Year 2.

6. : seven years, $119 million

History has not always been kind to Beltrán’s Mets tenure, in large part because of the called third strike he took to end the 2006 National League Championship Series. But the contract Beltrán signed before the 2005 season was actually one of the most productive long-term deals in Major League history. Over the first four years of it, Beltrán hit .275 with 117 homers, 83 stolen bases and an .867 OPS, making the All-Star Game three times. Injuries began hacking into Beltrán’s game in 2009, but he remained productive when healthy -- enough so that the Mets were able to deal him to the Giants at the 2011 non-waiver Trade Deadline for Zack Wheeler.

For New York, this deal could not have realistically worked out much better.

7. : four years, $110 million

The Mets nearly let Céspedes walk after the 2015 season, before agreeing on a three-year, $75 million contract with an opt-out after 2016. When Céspedes exercised that clause, the Mets pursued him more ardently than ever, striking a deal they mostly came to regret.

Over the first two years of a contract that ran through 2020, various heel, hamstring, quadriceps, hip and thumb ailments -- including multiple surgeries and an encounter with a wild boar -- limited Céspedes to 119 games. He briefly returned for eight games in 2020 but was largely ineffective, before electing not to play the rest of that season. As in Wright’s case, the Mets recouped a significant portion of the outfielder’s salary through insurance.