When it comes to the largest contracts in Major League Baseball, many of them are signed with the teams that originally drafted the player as they don’t want to let a franchise cornerstone get away in free agency. There are also massive contracts signed by players who hit unrestricted free agency as teams get into a bidding war with one another for a star player.
Then, there are rare circumstances where a player signs a massive contract with a team only to get traded away with plenty of years left on their contract. Teams have become warier in taking on major deals that players have signed with other teams, but sometimes a franchise will pull the trigger because the player is still a star, and the team trading that player away needs the salary relief. Here are the five biggest MLB contracts that were traded to other teams.
5. Yu Darvish
The Chicago Cubs were still contenders in 2018 and thought pitcher Yu Darvish could get them over the hump and grab a second World Series in the 2010s. Instead, the team turned their focus to a rebuild, but still had Darvish’s six-year, $126 million contract on the books.
The team decided to deal Darvish to the San Diego Padres after he played half of his contract in Chicago. In exchange, the Cubs received Zach Davies in four prospects.
4. Eric Hosmer
Eric Hosmer was once the third overall draft pick in 2008 and cracked into the MLB with the Kansas City Royals in May of 2011. Hosmer was an All-Star with Kansas City and won four Gold Glove Awards before hitting the free agent market after the 2017 season. Hosmer inked an eight-year deal worth $144 million with the San Diego Padres who were looking to add the final pieces of what they felt was a World Series-worthy roster.
Hosmer didn’t quite live up to his contract, and the Padres attempted to trade him to the Washington Nationals for Juan Soto. However, Hosmer evoked his no-trade clause as he didn’t want to be in Washington, so his contract was instead sent to Boston for a pair of Minor Leaguers.
3. David Price
David Price started his career with the Tampa Bay Rays and was one of the best pitchers in baseball, winning the AL Cy Young Award in 2012. Price continued to be a strong performer when he spent 2014 with the Detroit Tigers and split his 2015 season between Detroit and Toronto prior to becoming a free agent. The Boston Red Sox won the bidding war for Price, giving him $217 million over seven years for his services.
Price would only end up playing in four of those seasons for Boston, however, and was limited by injury in much of his time there. Price was then sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers alongside Mookie Betts in exchange for Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs and Connor Wong as the Red Sox looked to dump salary and acquire younger players.
2. Nolan Arenado
The Colorado Rockies drafted Nolan Arenado in 2009, and at 22 years old he made his debut with the team in 2013. Arenado proved to be worth the hype right away and quickly became one of the best infielders in baseball. He certainly didn’t struggle with Colorado as he made five All Star Games and was rewarded in 2019 with an eight-year contract worth $260 million.
The St. Louis Cardinals performed the heist of the century when they took on the disgruntled Arenado from the Rockies for five players. Not only that, the Rockies paid $51 million of the contract. Arenado immediately performed for St. Louis and in his first season was a Gold Glove winner and All-Star with 34 home runs.
1. Giancarlo Stanton
Back when he was referred to as Mike, Giancarlo Stanton came into the MLB through the Miami Marlins organization and quickly became one of the best sluggers in baseball. Stanton was a four-time All-Star with Miami and led the National League in home runs twice, and in 2015 he signed a 13-year contract to stay with the Marlins through the 2027 season.
However, the Marlins were sold in 2017 and the new ownership group wanted to unload the $325 million deal as part of the rebuilding process. With that, Stanton was traded to the New York Yankees after his MVP season in exchange for a pair of Minor League players, cash considerations, and Starlin Castro. When healthy, Stanton has proven to be worth the money.