As the 2015 MLB Season is officially over, the off-season free agent frenzy is underway. Teams in both leagues will do their best to lure in big talent with the help of a big pay check. Every year, teams always attempt to answer the same question: will the star player take a hometown discount? Or will we lose him to the highest bidder? Unfortunately for the hometown team, there a lot of players who usually end up following the money.
For some of these players, changing teams and scenery actually makes sense. Whether it was because of a bad locker room fit or he believes there is a better chance of winning somewhere else, some guys have valid reasoning. Already this off season, Jason Heyward has done exactly this. Although the Saint Louis Cardinals offered him more money, he took less money to play for the Chicago Cubs because he believes Chicago gives him the best chance at a championship. Although there are guys like Heyward, there are still a lot of guys out there who leave purely for the money. These are the ball players who go somewhere or stay on a team strictly because the paycheck has more zeros on it.
Fans of baseball often use certain expletives to describe these individual players. However, the more appropriate term would be "money hungry" players. Knowing this phenomena existed, we went back through the history of the MLB to compile a list of the most money hungry baseball players. The guys who played for the love of the money rather than the love of the game. In order to be included on this list, a player must have accepted an extremely large contract, played for different teams (unless the hometown team offered a huge deal), and made it clear he was concerned more about money than winning. With that being said, here are the top 15 money hungry players in the history of the MLB.
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15 David Price
David Price is one of the most dominate left-handed pitchers in the game of baseball. Because of this, he has earned the right to be money-hungry. The soon-to-be 31-year old will be playing for his fourth MLB team in his illustrious career. That team, the Boston Red Sox, paid the price to get the former Cy Young winner away from teams such as the Blue Jays and Cardinals. Price inked a seven year contract worth 217 million dollars. Thanks to the big payday, Price will be making an average of 31 million dollars until he is 37-years old in 2022.
14 Roger Clemens
Roger Clemens is one of the most talked about players in the history of the MLB. From being one of the most dominant pitchers for a little over 20 seasons, to the steroid saga that tarnished his successful career, Clemens found himself in the news one way or another. In his 24 year career, Clemens accumulated well over 150 million dollars in contracts alone. Although this is not nearly as much as a pitcher would bring in currently, it was an extreme amount of money during his time. In fact, in 2006 as a 45-year old, Clemens signed a deal with the New York Yankees for 17 million dollars. In that season, he went 6-6 with a plus-4 era and collected 17 million dollars.
13 Vernon Wells
Vernon Wells spent the first 12 years of his MLB career North of the border with the Toronto Blue Jays. Leaving the Great White North led to the demise of his career, as he followed up with two seasons in Los Angeles and one in New York before retiring. In the 2011 off season, Wells was traded from the Blue Jays to the Angels where he then signed a massive contract paying him over 26 million dollars in his first year as an Angel. After two horrible years in Los Angeles, the Angels traded him to the Yankees where he was still earning more than 20 million dollars per season. Eventually, Wells became so bad that the Yankees decided to release him and pay him to sit at home. As you could guess, Wells gave no complaints about this.
12 Matt Kemp
Matt Kemp is most famous for the season where he came just shy of the 40/40 club, but he is also known for loving the money. Since he entered the league, people around the MLB have always questioned Kemp's attitude and eagerness to play. Especially after he was paid. After the 2012 season, Kemp signed an eight year/160 million dollar contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, ever since he inked that massive payday, he was never the same player. In fact, the Dodgers decided that Kemp was never going to be the player he was again and shipped him off to the San Diego Padres. For the Padres, Kemp is still making 21 million dollars per year while having one of his worst statistical seasons in 2015.
11 Cliff Lee
At one point, Cliff Lee was considered to be one of the most dominant left-handed pitchers in all of MLB. Unfortunately for Lee and the Phillies, that time quickly came and went. Thanks to injuries and a decline of skill, Lee has fell off the wagon over the past two years. Fortunately for Cliff Lee, he cashed in on his ability when he had the chance. When he became a free agent before the 2011 season, he inked a deal with the Phillies that has allowed him to accumulate well over 100 million dollars in the past five seasons. Lee is once again looking to cash in on his ability, as he is now a free agent entering the 2016 season. Something tells us, that he is going to be signed and way overpaid.
10 Clayton Kershaw
This was one of the tougher additions to the list as there was no way that Kershaw was not going to be signed for this much money. Nonetheless, it has always been clear that Kershaw was going to take advantage of his skill set. He has always loved this lavish lifestyle of being a star. Going to all the big NFL and NBA games is just a perk of being a top 3 pitcher in the MLB. The Dodgers decided he was worth the money and signed him to a seven year/215 million dollar deal. Kershaw will enter free agency again as a 33-year old and we expect him to lure in another massive contract like his current one.
9 Ryan Howard
Much like the deal that Cliff Lee had with the Phillies, Ryan Howard has an equally lucrative deal. Unfortunately for the Phillies, this deal has yet to pan out. Since making the playoffs in 2011, the Phillies have lived in the cellar of the MLB. One of the major reasons they are bottom-dwellers is because they are currently paying Howard 25 million dollars per season. What lands Howard on this list, is the fact that he took a five year/125 million dollar contract after tearing his Achilles in the 2011 playoffs. He has been making 25 million dollars a season all while struggling immensely and never returning to form.
8 Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth may in fact be the greatest player in the history of the MLB. Although Ruth never made anywhere near the amount of money a back up infielder makes currently, he still finds himself at number seven on our list. In his incredible career, Ruth accumulated 785 thousand dollars for his services in the MLB. During his time as a New York Yankee, he made much more than any other player in the MLB and much more than basically anyone else in the United States. We can not even imagine the amount of money that the likes of Babe Ruth would have brought in if he played in the present-day MLB. And with the stories of Ruth being a little on the exotic side, we believe he would continue to cash in on his abilities.
7 CC Sabathia
The New York Yankees seem to be on this list more than most teams which is why they find themselves being one of the more hated teams in the whole league. CC Sabathia is just another guy who the Yankees bought in an attempt to bring in another world championship. In 2009, the Yankees brought in Sabathia on an eight year/186 million dollar contract. Since 2009, Sabathia has been earning just above 23 million dollars per year, but has not been effective since the 2012 season.
6 Zack Greinke
Zack Greinke is one of the most confusing players in the MLB. He has been in and dominated both leagues of the MLB. He went to Los Angeles and virtually overthrew Clayton Kershaw as the best pitcher in the MLB, winning the Cy Young this past season. Following his Cy Young season, Greinke turned down the Dodgers and many other teams, electing to sign a six year/206 million dollar contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Every year from 2016 till 2022, Greinke will bring in more than 34 million dollars.
5 Giancarlo Stanton
Giancarlo Stanton is one of the most prolific home run hitters in the MLB today. And if Stanton is ever able to stay healthy for a full season, he will set records with his home run numbers. This past off season, Stanton made sure his injury-prone body would never get in the way of him making money. He inked a 13 year/325 million dollar deal with the Miami Marlins. For the next 13 seasons, no matter if Stanton is healthy or not, he will be bringing in an average of 25 million dollars per season.
4 Josh Hamilton
Josh Hamilton is one of the more peculiar personalities in the game. One year, he is on the verge of winning the MVP and a World Series. In the following season, he is miserable and on the verge of being released or bought out by his current team. Although he is a confusing player to figure out, the Los Angeles Angels decided they would sign him to a five year/125 million dollar deal giving him 25 million dollars per year. This was such a bad contract by the Los Angeles Angels, that they eventually decided to send him back to the Rangers and still pay the contract. You read that right. The Angels are currently paying Hamilton to play for the Texas Rangers.
3 Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez is considered by many to be one of the most hated players in the history of the MLB. One of the major reasons for this is because of his steroid use and the lying that ensued once he was discovered. However, another major reason is because of the amount of money he has blatantly stole from the New York Yankees. He is entering his ninth year of a 10 year contract worth 275 million dollars and has been a major disappointment during his time as a Yankee. Obviously, he had some excellent years that were subsequently followed by horrible years and was even forced to sit out a full season, but he has played nowhere near the worth of 275 million dollars.
2 Albert Pujols
Albert Pujols put together the greatest start to a career in the history of MLB in Saint Louis. He was a first-ballot hall of fame candidate with no arguments thanks to his play in Saint Louis. And Saint Louis rewarded him with two world championships and basically the keys to the city. However, when the Los Angeles Angels came calling with thirty more million dollars than the Cardinals could offer, Pujols darted to the bright lights of L.A. Since going to Los Angeles, Pujols' numbers have fell off drastically. But fortunately for Pujols, he will be making more than 24 million dollars until he is 41-years old.
1 Robinson Cano
When talking about the best second basemen in the MLB, Robinson Cano is always included in the conversation. Cano spent the early years of his career in the Big Apple, playing for the New York Yankees. However, when he became a free agent before the 2014 MLB season, he told the New York Yankees that they would have to break the bank in order to retain him. He ditched his former agent Scott Boras in favor of Jay Z and signed a massive deal with the Seattle Mariners. He inked a 10 year/240 million dollar contract to move across the country. The deal made him the highest-paid second basemen in the whole league.
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