July 26, 2021

Gerrit Cole’s Monster Contract, Historically Speaking (FanGraphs)

Gerrit Cole just signed a nine-year, $324 million contract with the Yankees that ranks as one of the biggest in the game’s history. To compare contracts, however, some context is required. In the strictest sense, Cole’s deal is the second-largest in free agent history, behind only Bryce Harper’s $330 million last season. It’s the fourth-largest contract in baseball history, with Mike Trout’s contract extension earlier this year and Giancarlo Stanton’s $325 million deal back in 2015 joining Harper’s ahead of it. In dollars, it is ahead of Alex Rodriguez’s $252 million contract in 2001, as well as his $275 million deal from 2008. But the game’s finances have changed a lot since 2001, when the average major league payroll was just $67 million. Payrolls have increased by two-and-a-half times that amount, with league revenues growing even more than payrolls. So how does Cole’s deal really stack up? We can use payroll information to put Cole’s contract alongside Alex Rodriguez’s, and more evenly compare them.

About a year ago, I attempted to put Alex Rodriguez’s contracts in present-day payroll terms by adjusting them to 2019 dollars based on the…

Read “Gerrit Cole’s Monster Contract, Historically Speaking” at FanGraphs