Thursday, April 19, 2012

Largest Athlete Contracts Ever


The last two decades in sports have yielded the largest athlete contracts ever. See which athletes signed to these mega-bucks deals and ponder the billion dollar question — are they worth it?

Alex Rodriguez
$275 million

In 2000 Rodriguez signed a 10-year, $252 million deal with the Texas Rangers, the largest contract in sports history. A-Rod, now 35, opted out of his Rangers contract in 2004 to sign with the New York Yankees, who in 2007 signed the third baseman to an even larger deal.

Derek Jeter
$189 million 10 years

Before A-Rod came along, the New York Yankees invested dearly in their beloved shortstop. In February 2001, Jeter, now 36, signed the then-richest contract in Yankees history.

Joe Mauer
$184 million contract

In March 2011, the Minnesota Twins put all their hopes – and a large chunk of change – in catcher Mauer. The 28-year-old Minnesota native signed an eight-year contract extension that became the largest ever for an MLB catcher.

Mark Teixeira
$180 million contract

When it comes to shelling out large sums of cash, the New York Yankees seem to have a limitless bankroll. In 2008 they signed free-agent first baseman Mark Teixeira to an eight-year deal.

CC Sabathia
$161 million

In 2008 the Cleveland Indians traded the All-Star lefty, now age 30, to the Milwaukee Brewers, but that stint would be short-lived. In 2008, the New York Yankees picked up Sabathia and signed him to a seven-year deal that ended up being the highest contract awarded a pitcher.

Manny Ramirez
$160 million

In Dan Duquette’s biggest splash, the Boston Red Sox signed Manny Ramirez away from Cleveland to an eight-year deal worth millions, with an additional two years for $40 million more. Ramirez helped the Red Sox win the 2004 World Series, picking up a World Series MVP award as the Red Sox abolished the famed Curse of the Bambino with a miraculous win over the Yankees in the ALCS after trailing 0-3. Ramirez also led them to a 2007 World Championship.

Fernando Alonso
$160 million contract mclaren

Alonso, now 29, took Formula 1 salaries to new heights with his reported 2007-10 contract with McLaren that was to be worth millions. However, Alonso spent only one season with the team – for a reported $39 million – before moving to another team.

Adrian Gonzalez
7 years $154 Million

Adrian Gonzalez, now 28, was traded for the third time in his career on Dec. 6, 2010, to the Boston Red Sox, who promptly signed the first baseman to a seven-year contract extension to keep him in Boston through 2018.

Kimi Raikkonen
$153 million

Former Formula 1 star Räikkönen, 31, took over the role of highest-paid driver in his sport, replacing Michael Schumacher, 42, on the list with his contract with Ferrari from 2007 to 2009. It paid off as he won the 2007 Formula 1 title.

Miguel Cabrera
$152.3 million

In 2008 the Detroit Tigers joined the ranks of the big-spending Yankees and Red Sox when they locked up Cabrera to an eight-year contract. The deal would become the biggest contract ever given to a Detroit player.

Todd Helton
$141.5 million

The Colorado Rockies joined the deep-pockets league in 2001 when they awarded Helton, now 37, a nine-year contract extension, then the fourth-largest contract in sports history. In 2007 the Rockies reached the World Series, where they lost to the Red Sox.

Carl Crawford
$142 million

Carl Crawford, 29, was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in 1999, and since his 2002 MLB debut he has led the American League in stolen bases four times and led the Rays to the 2008 World Series. As a free agent after the 2010 season, Crawford (see photos) was signed by the Boston Red Sox to a seven-year contract.

Johan Santana
$137.5 million

The Minnesota Twins traded Santana to the New York Mets in 2008, and as part of the deal, the Mets signed the money pitcher to one of the largest contracts awarded a hurler – a six-year contract extension.

Kobe Bryant
$136.4 million

In 2004, the Los Angeles Lakers kept the star happy by signing him to a seven-year deal. Since then, Bryant, 32, and the Lakers have won another two championships – and are currently battling another Western Conference team in the playoffs.

Alfonso Soriano
$136 million

Alfonso Soriano — after playing for three teams in nine years, including a notable run with the New York Yankees – signed an eight-year contract with the Chicago Cubs before the 2007 season. With Soriano, 35, the Cubs have won back-to-back division titles.

Troy Tulowitzki
$134 million seven seasons

Eager to hang onto their All-Star shortstop, in 2010 the Colorado Rockies signed Tulowitzki, 26, to an additional contract over seven seasons – a deal that means Colorado has guaranteed Tulowitzki a huge payout through 2020.

Michael Vick
$130 million

Vick was all set to be highest-paid NFL player in history when the Atlanta Falcons signed the star quarterback to a 10-year contract extension in 2005. That deal guaranteed Vick an NFL-record $37 million in bonuses. However, in 2007 Vick was suspended without pay hours after pleading guilty to charges stemming from a dogfighting investigation. Vick was also ordered to reimburse the Falcons upon discovery that he had funded the illegal operation. In 2009 Vick was reinstated and signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Jermaine O’Neal
$126.5 million

Looking to rebuild and move out of the Reggie Miller years, the Indiana Pacers pinned their hopes on O’Neal back in 2003, signing their new franchise player to a seven-year deal. During the 2008 NBA draft, the Pacers traded O’Neal to the Toronto Raptors as part of a multiplayer, multipick trade.

Alexander Ovechkin
$124 million

While the NHL doesn’t dole out the same kind of cash that baseball does, this list has to include Ovechkin, who holds the largest NHL contract ever. In 2008 the Washington Capitals signed the now 25-year-old Russian left wing to a 13-year deal, which could keep him in Washington the better part of his career.

Donovan McNabb
$115 million

After the 2001 season, McNabb signed a 12-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, including a $20.5 million signing bonus. In 2004 McNabb led the Eagles to their second Super Bowl appearance, where they lost to this team. In 2010 McNabb was traded to the Washington Redskins for 2010 and 2011 draft picks.

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