David Price’s seven-year, $217 million contract with the Boston Red Sox is reportedly the biggest deal for a pitcher in Major League Baseball history. Price is 30 and finished last season with an American League leading 2.45 ERA. That bests his career ERA significantly, even though the 2012 Cy Young Award winner has a stingy lifetime ERA of 3.09. That’s good enough to draw a $31 million a year paycheck and place him above the LA Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who’s had to survive on just $215 million after committing last year to seven years with LA.
To see who compares, salary-wise, with Price, it’s no help to delve into history. These types of astronomical numbers are a contemporary invention. The top five paid pitchers after Price right now include Kershaw, then Max Scherzer (Nationals, 7-years, $210M), C.C. Sabathia (Yankees, 8-years, $186M), Justin Verlander (Tigers, 7-years, $180M) and Felix Hernandez (Mariners, 7-years, $175M). If you did visit history — just for fun — you’d find that Sandy Koufax, who had a career 2.78 ERA, signed his first contract for $6,000 with a $14,000 signing bonus (approximately $53K and $123K today) in 1951. And that Nolan Ryan became the first player (and pitcher) to average over $1M a year back in 1979. Four-time Cy Young winner Steve Carlton was the highest paid player in 1983 with $1.15M a year. More recently Randy Johnson earned $28M in his highest paid season, and had a career total income of $175M over his 22-year career.