Verlander's contract could be worth $202 million if he vests the final year and Posey's nine-year deal totals up to $167 million. We can all moan and groan about the absurdity of paying baseball players that kind of money, but that's the way things are and that's the going rate for superstar players. Verlander got more than Felix Hernandez because he's better than Hernandez (although three years older). Posey's contract is the largest ever for a player with less than three years of service time, but Posey already has two World Series rings and an MVP award.
The reason you're seeing these contracts is clear: The teams can afford them, even if they are shouldering the risks of career-debilitating injuries. But with revenues soaring, thanks in large part to record national TV contracts and big local TV deals, Forbes magazine just estimated that the average value of franchises increased 23 percent over last year.
The biggest ramification of all these stars signing long-term deals -- and reports say the Dodgers are negotiating with Clayton Kershaw -- is you'll see fewer big names reaching free agency. That means teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and now the Dodgers, who have relied on signing big stars via free agency, may have to rebuild the old-fashioned way: through their farm systems. There simply won't be as many stars hitting free agency to fight over.
Think of all the big free-agent players the Yankees signed over the past decade-plus to keep their roll of contention going: Jason Giambi, Mike Mussina, Gary Sheffield, Johnny Damon, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte (on their returns to New York), CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett and Rafael Soriano. Now, that doesn't mean the Yankees won't be willing to trade for big contracts like they originally did with Alex Rodriguez, or later did with players like Randy Johnson or Curtis Granderson, but trading for stars can come at a heavy price (think the Yankees wouldn't want Austin Jackson in center field right now?).
Look at the top 25 players from our recent BBTN500 voting:
Miguel Cabrera: Signed through 2015
Justin Verlander: Signed through 2019
Mike Trout: Free agent after 2017
Clayton Kershaw: Free agent after 2014
Ryan Braun: Signed through 2020
Buster Posey: Signed through 2021
Robinson Cano: Free agent after 2013
Felix Hernandez: Signed through 2019
Joey Votto: Signed through 2023
David Price: Free agent after 2015
Stephen Strasburg: Free agent after 2016
Andrew McCutchen: Signed through 2018
Matt Kemp: Signed through 2019
Craig Kimbrel: Free agent after 2016
Evan Longoria: Signed through 2023
Giancarlo Stanton: Free agent after 2016
Prince Fielder: Signed through 2020
Albert Pujols: Signed through 2021
Matt Cain: Signed through 2017
Josh Hamilton: Signed through 2017
Cole Hamels: Signed through 2018
Adrian Beltre: Signed through 2016
Jered Weaver: Signed through 2016
Jose Bautista: Signed through 2016
Cliff Lee: Signed through 2016
Certainly, some of these players will hit free agency in the primes: David Price and Giancarlo Stanton, most notably, but three and four seasons away from free agency. There are second-level stars like Matt Wieters (free agent after 2015) and Chase Headley (free agent after 2014). But most of the game's very best are locked up for the foreseeable future.
It's a changing landscape in baseball. One in which the richest teams will find it a little more difficult to buy their way to pennants.