Top 20 Biggest Sports Contracts and How Much They are Worth

Ever since soccer star Lionel Messi indicated an interest in leaving his long-term team, Barcelona F.C., it has been a series of twists and turns in an increasingly ugly battle. One of the most significant events in the course of the saga has been the revelation of the very confidential aspects of the player’s contract by Spanish sports daily, El Mundo. The daily basically suggested that the reason behind the Spanish club’s heavy indebtedness was because they had spent much of their money servicing Messi’s humongous contract.

As can be expected, the player was none too happy with the leak and has pointed accusing fingers at some of the club’s hierarchy. He has also threatened to take legal action against all the parties responsible for the saga. As we await the outcome of that move, one thing that can’t be denied is that Messi’s contract details are certainly eye-popping and is the biggest contract that has ever been handed out in sports history. So, which other athletes enjoy similar deals? Let’s find out.

The Biggest Sports Contracts and Their Value

20. Joey Votto – $225 Million

  • Team – Cincinnati Reds
  • Sports – Baseball (MLB)
  • Duration of Contract – 10 years (2014-2023)
  • Contract Value – $225,000,000
  • Average Per Year – $22,500,000
  • Average Per Fixture – $138,888

Joey Votto
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Joey Votto’s ten-year deal may not be the largest in MLB history, but it is certainly the biggest in the history of the Cincinnati Reds. The deal secured his commitment to the franchise for the long term as they hoped that he would not only perform for them on the field of play but also serve as an inspiration to the upcoming generation of young people. Not many in the city were happy with the deal though. They argued that the duration was just too long given that the player would be approaching 40 years, and thus be past his prime by the time the contract runs out. They felt that the money would have been better utilized by purchasing two or three proven major league players.

19. James Harden – $228 Million

  • Team – Brooklyn Nets
  • Sports – Basketball (NBA)
  • Duration of Contract – 6 years (2017-2023)
  • Contract Value – $228,000,000
  • Average Per Year – $38,000,000
  • Average Per Fixture – $463,414

Biggest Sports Contracts
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James Harden is yet to win an NBA championship but he is one of the most decorated players in the league, notching up several individual accolades such as league MVP, NBA All-Star (8x), All-NBA First Team (6x), NBA scoring champion (3x), and NBA assist leader. This ensures that he keeps getting huge paydays and in 2017, he was given a lucrative six-year extension by the Houston Rockets. The Rockets did this in hopes that he would stay back and help them continue their push for a championship. That dream lasted for about three years before the star player decided that he wanted to try his luck elsewhere. He was consequently traded to the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster deal involving future NBA draft picks and two other teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers.

18. Giannis Antetokoumpo – $228.2 Million

  • Team – Milwaukee Bucks
  • Sports – Basketball (NBA)
  • Duration of Contract – 5 years (2021-2026)
  • Contract Value – $228,200,830
  • Average Per Year – $45,640,166
  • Average Per Fixture – $556,587

As if the Bucks needed any more convincing of the rare gem that they have on their hands, the Greek Freak gave a superlative 2020 season in which he posted amazing stats and won several accolades, including Most Valuable Player of the year. These excellent feats spurred his team into action and so they gave him the greatest contract in the history of the NBA. The player took to Twitter to announce that he felt blessed to be a part of the franchise. He described Milwaukee as his city and home and asked all to join hands with him and make the next five years count.

17. Robinson Canó $240 Million

  • Team – New York Mets
  • Sports – Baseball (MLB)
  • Duration of Contract – 10 years (2014–2023)
  • Contract Value – $240,000,000
  • Average Per Year – $24,000,000
  • Average Per Fixture – $148,148

Robinson Canó’s performance on the field of play guarantees him as a future Hall of Famer, but his use of performance-enhancing drugs has threatened that status. In 2018, the player was found guilty of using a drug known as furosemide and was suspended for about 80 games. This cost him half of his salary ($12 million) that year. Two years down the line in November 2020, the second baseman once more tested positive for a banned substance known as stanozolol. This fetched him a season-long ban meaning that he will miss the entire 162 games. It also means that he will forfeit his entire $24 million paycheck for the 2021 season to the Mets.

16. Albert Pujols $240 Million

  • Team – L.A. Angels
  • Sports – Baseball (MLB)
  • Duration of Contract – 10 years (2012–2021)
  • Contract Value – $240,000,000
  • Average Per Year – $24,000,000
  • Average Per Fixture – $148,148

Biggest Sports Contract
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Albert Pujols is at the tail end of his impressive contract and the question now becomes what he would do next. Even though the slugger has had a mercurial career, in which he has set several records and won many accolades, including two World Series, the truth remains that his value as a player has declined with age. There are therefore not that many teams willing to spend money on a hitter of his age. This has led many to speculate that Pujols will be retiring after his contract comes to an end. Some, however, point out that he may still continue to play due to his love for the game as well as the opportunity to break more records. The man at the eye of the storm remains undecided and has stated that all options are on the table at the moment.

15. Stephen Strasburg $245 Million

  • Team – Washington Nationals
  • Sports – Baseball (MLB)
  • Duration of Contract – 7 years (2020–2026)
  • Contract Value – $245,000,000
  • Average Per Year – $35,000,000
  • Average Per Fixture – $216,049

Stephen Strasburg
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The player with the 15th biggest sports contract in the world is MLB star, Stephen Strasburg. The pitcher forwent his 2017 contract and the $100 million remaining under it to become a free agent in 2019. His team subsequently handed him a fresh seven-year contract that same year. A look at the duration and the amount involved would show that the player would ordinarily receive about $35 million per annum. It is not so in actuality though as Strasburg and his team reached an agreement to defer a third of the contract sum, $80 million, until 2027 when it will now be paid in three annual installments. The player in the meantime would receive an annual salary of $23.6 million.

14. Anthony Rendon $245 Million

  • Team – Los Angeles Angels
  • Sports – Baseball (MLB)
  • Duration of Contract – 7 years (2020–2026)
  • Contract Value – $245,000,000
  • Average Per Year – $35,000,000
  • Average Per Fixture – $216,049

Anthony Rendon
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Following a championship-winning performance with the Washington Nationals in 2019, the Angels went all out to land Rendon. They hoped that he would replicate his Nationals success with them, but this is proving to be difficult in his debut season. The third baseman is off to a horrible start, with several strikeouts and a low batting average, many have criticized him for this. His manager has urged fans to remain calm though as he believes that the player would get back to his regular form once the season stabilizes. The 2020 MLB season witnessed several upheavals due to the covid-19 pandemic.

13. Miguel Cabrera $248 Million

  • Team – Detroit Tigers
  • Sports – Baseball (MLB)
  • Duration of Contract – 8 years (2016–2023)
  • Contract Value – $248,000,000
  • Average Per Year – $31,000,000
  • Average Per Fixture – $191,358

Biggest Sporting Contracts
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Another MLB baseman who holds one of the biggest contracts in the sporting world is Miguel Cabrera. Earnings from this contract have made Cabrera, a two-time MVP and one-time World Champion, one of the highest-paid athletes in the world. Another thing that has helped him achieve this status is his endorsement deals. The player has sponsorships with companies such as Adidas, Franklin Sports, Topps, and Wilson Sporting Goods. He reportedly earns at least half a million from his sponsors per annum going by Forbes estimates.

12. Alex Rodriguez $252 Million

  • Team – Texas Rangers
  • Sports – Baseball (MLB)
  • Duration of Contract – 10 years (2001–2010)
  • Contract Value – $252,000,000
  • Average Per Year – $25,200,000
  • Average Per Fixture – $155,555

Alex Rodriguez
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A-Rod may have retired but his sporting contracts still hold sway as some of the biggest in MLB history. In fact, the legend holds two of the biggest sports contracts ever handed out. This is a testament to the distinguished career that he had. In the course of that career, the third baseman won one World Series, 14 All-Star nods, two Golden Glove awards, three AL MVP awards, and four AL Hank Aaron awards, among many others. He also set several records, including most home runs in a season, youngest player to ever hit 500 home runs, most home runs by a third baseman in a season, and highest slugging percentage in a season. Rodriguez is now touted as one of the greatest baseballers of all times and his influence transcends the sporting world.

11. Nolan Arenado $260 Million

  • Team – Colorado Rockies
  • Sports – Baseball (MLB)
  • Duration of Contract – 8 years (2019–2026)
  • Contract Value – $260,000,000
  • Average Per Year – $32,500,000
  • Average Per Fixture – $200,617

Nolan Arenado
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Nolan Arenado’s present contract should have seen him spend a total of eight years in Colorado. He managed only two though before he forced a trade to the St Louis Cardinals in January 2021. The five-time All-Star player was reportedly forced to resort to the trade as he had lost faith in the general manager of the Rockies as well as the direction that he, the general manager, had for the team. Arenado has now joined the St Louis Cardinals and they will be responsible for paying the remainder of his contract sum. He and the franchise have also done a bit of tweaking which gives him the opportunity of opting out of his contract in 2022.

10. Alex Rodriguez $275 Million

  • Team – New York Yankees
  • Sports – Baseball (MLB)
  • Duration of Contract – 10 years (2008–2017)
  • Contract Value – $275,000,000
  • Average Per Year – $27,500,000
  • Average Per Fixture – $169,753

Another record-breaking contract that Alex Rodriguez scored in the course of his illustrious career was a 10-year deal with the New York Yankees in 2008. The contract came on the back of some controversial happenings following the end of the 2007 season. Rodriguez’s contract was set to expire at the end of that season and he had expressed his desire to remain a Yankee for the rest of his career. He and his agent then did an about-face as he opted out of the final year of his contract and went into free agency. The move fetched them scorn from all and sundry. The player later bypassed his agent; spoke directly with management; and reached a big-money contract.

9. Manny Machado $300 Million

  • Team – San Diego Padres
  • Sports – Baseball (MLB)
  • Duration of Contract – 10 years (2019–2028)
  • Contract Value – $300,000,000
  • Average Per Year – $30,000,000
  • Average Per Fixture – $185,185

Manny Machado
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As at the time that Machado penned this deal, it was the richest sports contract handed out in North America. Other deals have since eclipsed it but Machado remains in good hands as his deal comes with some pretty good perks. The third baseman received a whopping $20 million as his signing bonus. Machado’s contract also allows him access to hotel suites while traveling with the team as well as the ability to purchase premium tickets at the Padres’ home stadium. The contract also stipulates that the player has the right to pick out six teams that he cannot be traded to without his consent each season.

8. Gerrit Cole $324 Million

  • Team – New York Yankees
  • Sports – Baseball (MLB)
  • Duration of Contract – 9 years (2020–2028)
  • Contract Value – $324,000,000
  • Average Per Year – $36,000,000
  • Average Per Fixture – $222,222

Gerrit Cole
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Gerrit Cole’s 2020 deal with the Yankees is remarkable on several levels. First is the fact that it was the largest contract in major league history as at the time it was signed. Secondly, is the fact that it marked the culmination of a long-held dream for Cole.

As a child, Cole was a big fan of the Yankees and often attended their games. On one occasion, he was spotted holding up a cardboard paper that read “Yankee fan, today, tomorrow and forever”. This was in 2001 and nearly two decades since he held up that sign, he got to fulfill his lifelong dream in a big way. The Yankees on their own part invested that much money in the player as they saw him as a game-changing type of talent.

7. Giancarlo Stanton $325 Million

  • Team – Miami Marlins
  • Sports – Baseball (MLB)
  • Duration of Contract – 13 years (2015–2027)
  • Contract Value – $325,000,000
  • Average Per Year – $25,000,000
  • Average Per Fixture – $154,320

Biggest Sports Contracts
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Giancarlo Stanton hasn’t had it easy since he made his MLB debut in 2010. He has suffered several injuries but he keeps on surmounting each and every one of them to come back even better. This has made him a prized asset in the league and so in 2013, the Miami Marlins handed him what was the richest total value contract in the history of team sports at that time. It also broke a record as the first time that an athlete would have about $300 million out of his total contract sum fully guaranteed. Following the signing of this historic contract, Stanton spent three years with the Marlins before he was traded to the New York Yankees in 2018. His chance to opt-out of the contract came up two years later but he declined, preferring to keep his juicy deal rather than chasing the unknown.

6. Bryce Harper $330 Million

  • Team – Philadelphia Phillies
  • Sports – Baseball (MLB)
  • Duration of Contract – 13 years (2019–2031)
  • Contract Value – $330,000,000
  • Average Per Year – $25,384,615
  • Average Per Fixture – $156,695

Bryce Harper
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When Bryce Harper signed the dotted lines for the Phillies on the 2nd of March 2019, it was with the expectation that he was signing for a viable team whom he can help to win the World Series. The fact that the contract offered a humongous $330 million pay offered added incentive and so, the player happily signed on. Three years down the line, the Phillies are no more looking so viable, but rather directionless, and Harper is now in a tight corner. This is because the contract that he wilfully agreed to, and even stipulated some of the terms, doesn’t give him any wiggle room. There is no option of opting out and he even got the Phillies to agree to a clause to not trade him to any other team.

5. Mookie Betts $365 Million

  • Team – L.A. Dodgers
  • Sports – Baseball (MLB)
  • Duration of Contract – 12 years (2020–2032)
  • Contract Value – $365,000,000
  • Average Per Year – $30,416,667
  • Average Per Fixture – $187,757

Mookie Betts
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How do you appreciate your team for giving you one of the richest contract extensions in all of sports? Well, if you are Mookie Betts, you lead them to a championship that they have coveted for years. As this incredible story goes, Betts was traded by the Red Sox to the Dodgers in February 2020 and made an immediate impact on his new employers. Asides from his contributions on the field, the player also pushed his fellow players to get the team to the next level. This impressed the franchise to no end and they offered Betts a 12-year, $365 million deal in 2020 in July of that year. He responded in kind by leading them to the World Series title that same year.

4. Canelo Alvarez $365 Million

  • Team – DAZN
  • Sports – Boxing
  • Duration of Contract – 5 years (2018–2023)
  • Contract Value – $365,000,000
  • Average Per Year – $73,000,000
  • Average Per Fixture – $33,181,818

Biggest Sports Contracts
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Even if combat sports is not your cup of tea, there is no way that you would not have heard the name of Canelo Alvarez. In a career spanning 15 years, the Mexican boxer has taken part in about 57 fights out of which he has won 54. He has also won world championships in four weight divisions, light middleweight, middleweight, super middleweight, and light heavyweight, and is now regarded as one of the best active boxers in the world.

Alvarez’s bouts generate millions of PPV buys and it was this that convinced streaming service, DAZN, to offer him a $365 million contract to exclusively stream his next 11 fights. This contract breaks down into about $33 million per fight meaning that Alvarez earns the most per fixture out of all of the athletes on this list.

3. Mike Trout $426.5 Million

  • Team – L.A. Angels
  • Sports – Baseball (MLB)
  • Duration of Contract – 12 years (2019–2030)
  • Contract Value – $426,500,000
  • Average Per Year – $35,541,667
  • Average Per Fixture – $219,393

Mike Trout
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When Mike Trout and his long-term team finalized a 12-year deal worth $426.5 million in March 2019, its impact reverberated across the sporting world. This was because it set a record as not just the largest contract in MLB history but also the richest in sports history. Even though the numbers were a bit scary, sports analysts were unified in their assertion that Trout deserved every inch of it. To them, his on-field performance makes him the undisputed best player in baseball since his professional debut. As such, he is entitled to be the holder of the largest deal in the league.

2. Patrick Mahomes $503 Million

  • Team – Kansas City Chiefs
  • Sports – American Football (NFL)
  • Duration of Contract – 12 years (2020-2031)
  • Contract Value – $503,000,000
  • Average Per Year – $41,916,667
  • Average Per Fixture – $2,619,79

Patrick Mahomes
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Ever since Patrick Mahomes was drafted into the NFL in 2017, he has grown to become one of the finest players in the league. Within just a short time, the QB has won a Super Bowl ring, being named Super Bowl MVP, and received three Pro Bowl honors. Other accolades collected include the NFL’s most valuable player as well as the NFL offensive player of the year. It, therefore, came as no surprise when Mahomes received the largest sporting contract in North America in 2020. The half a billion deal features a $10 million signing bonus and an average of $40 million per annum salary. There are also several performance incentives. Mahomes will earn an extra $1.25 million for winning the AFC Championship game and another 1.25 million for winning league MVP.

1. Lionel Messi $673.9 Million

  • Team – Barcelona F.C.
  • Sports – Soccer
  • Duration of Contract – 4 years (2017–2021)
  • Contract Value – $673,919,105
  • Average Per Year – $168,479,776
  • Average Per Fixture – $3,743,995

Lionel Messi
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So, what exactly was in the Messi contract that caused such an uproar? Well, the six-time Balon D’Or winner takes home about $168 million per year. There are also several bonuses including a £123 million renewal fee for simply signing the contract as well as a £69 million loyalty bonus for agreeing to stay at the club. It is bonuses like this that have made many question whether the great player is actually worth the whole deal but his fans have pushed back. They have argued that what the player generates for his club each year through jersey sales, media rights sponsorships, and social media income, trumps what he costs the club.

Recap of the 20 Biggest Sports Contracts and Their Value

1. Lionel Messi – $673.9 Million

2. Patrick Mahomes – $503 Million

3. Mike Trout – $426.5 Million

4. Canelo Alvarez – $365 Million

5. Mookie Betts – $365 Million

6. Bryce Harper – $330 Million

7. Giancarlo Stanton – $325 Million

8. Gerrit Cole – $324 Million

9. Manny Machado – $300 Million

10. Alex Rodriguez – $275 Million

11. Nolan Arenado – $260 Million

12. Alex Rodriguez – $252 Million

13. Miguel Cabrera – $248 Million

14. Anthony Rendon – $245 Million

15. Stephen Strasburg – $245 Million

16. Albert Pujols – $240 Million

17. Robinson Canó – $240 Million

18. Giannis Antetokoumpo –$228.2 Million

19. James Harden – $225 Million

20. Joey Votto – $225 Million

Ngozika Agu
Ngozika can turn any personal finance or entertainment information into an exciting, delightful and compelling article that informs and educates, she can quickly turn random letters into epic stories that not only entertain but also inspires or motivates


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