When the offseason began, it was widely expected that a starting pitcher would be signing a record contract before the end of the winter.
David Price held the record for the highest total value with his seven-year, $217 million deal with the Boston Red Sox that he signed in December 2014. The highest average annual salary, however, belonged to Zack Greinke for the six-year, $206.5 million contract he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks ($34.42M AAV) before being traded to the Houston Astros.
Both those records were smashed this winter, but the first one to do it wasn’t who most were expecting.
Stephen Strasburg agreed to a seven-year, $245 million deal ($35M AAV) with the Nationals on Monday that broke both Price’s and Greinke’s records. Despite having $80 million of that total deferred to after the seven years, Strasburg was the sole owner of the richest contract for a pitcher in MLB history.
That is, until the news broke just before midnight on Tuesday night that Gerrit Cole reached an agreement with the New York Yankees on a nine-year, $324 million contract that left Strasburg’s deal in the dust. Not only is his $36 million AAV be the highest of any pitcher ever, it’s also the highest of any player ever—just edging past Mike Trout’s figure of $35.54 million.
Strasburg is no longer the highest-paid pitcher in baseball, but after opting out of the remaining four seasons and $100 million left on his previous deal only to receive an additional three years and $145 million—which makes his opt-out the most successful ever—he’s probably not too disappointed.
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