Yearbook, Dec. 11: A-Rod's record deal

Dec. 11, 2000: Before this date 12 years ago, the largest contract in baseball history belonged to pitcher Mike Hampton, who signed just days earlier for eight years, $121 million.

Then Alex Rodriguez happened.

Yes, the man who would go on to be one of the most polarizing players around started down that path with a staggering (even now) 10-year, $252 million deal handed him and agent Scott Boras by Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks.

Worth the money? Almost certainly not. Although Rodriguez averaged 52 homers and posted a 1.000-plus OPS during his first three years outside Seattle, his exorbitant salary hurt the Rangers' flexibility, and they averaged 72 wins during his stay. That stay ended in 2004, with -- of course -- the trade to the New York Yankees (with whom A-Rod eventually signed an even larger contract, at $275 million).