Who Has The Longest MLB Contract?
Much of the discussion around MLB player contracts has to do with salary amount, with fewer fans focusing on how long a contract lasts. Have you ever wondered who has the longest MLB contract? As of the present day, Fernando Tatis Jr. was awarded the longest contract in MLB history by the Padres in 2021, as he accepted a 14-year, $340 million extension. What are some of the other longest contracts in baseball, and how has contract length grown throughout baseball’s history?
History of Long-Term Contracts
Once free agency began in the MLB in 1976, it did not take long for teams to get innovative. Some of the longest contracts were given in the early days of free agency, and more have been given out since. During the 1976 offseason, Wayne Garland was given a 10-year contract by Cleveland. Cleveland lured the former Orioles pitcher with $2.3 million over the decade. Garland only ended up playing five more seasons before his career came to a close.
In another instance of a long contract early in the days of free agency, the Rangers gave outfielder Richie Zisk $2.75 million over a 10-year span the following offseason. MLB contracts continued to increase in price, but the longest contracts remained at 10 years for decades.
Current Longest Contracts
There are currently 22 contracts in the history of Major League Baseball that have been signed for 10 or more years. As contracts began to rise in price, the first time a contract was longer than 10 years was Giancarlo Stanton’s extension with the Marlins. In 2015, the slugger was given a 13-year, $325 million contract to stay in Miami, although he was later traded to the Yankees.
That 13-year mark was later tied by Bryce Harper before the 2019 season, but was broken by Fernando Tatis Jr. The Padres gave Tatis Jr. a 14-year, $340 million contract extension in 2021. Tatis Jr. will be under contract with San Diego through the 2034 season, when he will enter free agency just before his 36th birthday.
New Era of Contracts
Many of the 22 current MLB contracts of 10 years or more have come in recent memory, as just three of those agreements came before the 21st Century. Alex Rodriguez received his first 10-year contract in 2001, which at the time set the record for the largest amount of money given to a player. More contracts began to break that threshold, and eventually, Giancarlo Stanton’s contract extension in 2015 set the new record for money and length. As we get closer to the present, longer contracts have begun to become more common. Four contracts with double-digit lengths were given to players during the 2022-2023 offseason alone.
Of course, with longer contracts, teams also have to factor in age. Xander Bogaerts and Trea Turner both received 11-year contracts prior to the 2023 season. Bogaerts will be with San Diego until he turns 41 years old, while Turner is under contract with Philadelphia until he is 40. In general, as the league moves forward, players are receiving longer contracts that cut further into their careers.