Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Twelve Deals Of Christmas

It is December and the holidays are upon us!  As Yankee fans well know, and fans of other teams know to a lesser extent, this month can mean expensive gifts in the form of lavish free agent signings. Over the years there have been dozens of these deals, which have filled fans with the joy of the season and the promise of prosperity in the New Year.  Here, with a nod to the song “The 12 Days Of Christmas,” are twelve of the biggest Christmas free agent signings in Major League Baseball history:


December 8, 2011- On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Albert Pujols, 10 years, $240 million with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. To Cardinals fans, Pujols was the Grinch who stole Christmas, while in LA, he was the lead Angel in the Christmas pageant.

December 9, 1992: On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Greg Maddux, 5 years, $28 million with the Atlanta Braves.  The Yankees, who had come off back-to-back losing seasons, offered Maddux more money, but he signed with the Braves instead because he wanted to play for a winner.

December 11, 2010: On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Carl Crawford, 7 years, $142 million with the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox either forgot to get a warranty or they lost the receipt for this purchase. They ended up re-gifting him to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

December 12, 1998: On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Kevin Brown, 7 years, $105 million with the Los Angeles Dodgers. This deal made Brown the first $100 million player in MLB. The Yankees later took on the remaining years of the deal, years which made it seem as if they received damaged goods.

December 12, 2000: On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Mike Hampton, 8 years, $121 million with the Colorado Rockies. At the time, this was the richest contract in history for a pitcher. Hampton claimed the money had nothing to do with it. He signed, he said, because he loved the schools in Colorado.

December 13, 2007: On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Alex Rodriguez, 10 years, $275 million with the New York Yankees. Currently the most lucrative contract in baseball, it is, for obvious reasons, also the worst.

December 15, 1980: On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Dave Winfield, 10 years, $15 million, with the New York Yankees. This contract made Winfield the highest paid player in baseball. Unbelievable, considering the fact that many players now make more than that in less than a full season.

December 15, 2010: On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Cliff Lee, 5 years, $120 million, with the Philadelphia Phillies. Lee could have signed with the Yankees for more money but, supposedly, a few disgusting Yankee fans who spat on his wife took that possibility away.

December 15, 2012: On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Josh Hamilton, 5 years, $125 million, with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Angels saw the huge number of presents under the tree of their neighbors, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and did not want to be out-done.

December 20, 2006: On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Barry Zito, 7 years, $126 million. This deal was, at the time, the largest pitching contract in history. Zito proceeded to pitch like it was the smallest.

December 20, 2008: On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me: CC Sabathia, 7 years, $161 million. Now he was the highest paid pitcher in MLB history. Though he hasn’t always pitched like it, he has been very good.

December 31, 1974: On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Catfish Hunter, 5 years, $3.75 million. This was the contract that started it all. Hunter became the first big free agent signing in baseball and the highest paid player in the game. We’ve come a long way, baby.

There have been many more December free agent signings, but these are the ones that stand out for me. Wishing you and your team a holiday season that is lucrative and a 2013 filled with parity.

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