Top 10 MLB Free Agent Signings

On Tuesday, tackled the top 10 worst MLB free agent signings of all-time.

On Thursday they pay tribute to the best:

1. Barry Bonds – Signed by San Francisco in 1992, six years, $43 million.
A six-time all-star, five gold gloves, one MVP award; his numbers were not as gaudy as they would be in the six years that followed, but he still lived up to the contract, and then some. And never, ever caused off-the-field concerns or troubles.

2. Greg Maddux – Signed by Atlanta in 1992, five years, $28 million.
It seemed almost unfair when the Braves, who already had Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Steve Avery, added Cy Young winner Maddux to the rotation. In the five years of his contract, he won three more Cy Youngs in the first three years, two of them unanimous; he was first or second in the league in ERA all five years; and posted an 89-33 record for the perpetual division champs.

3. Manny Ramirez (Boston, Dec. 2000, eight years, $160 million) and Alex Rodriguez (Texas, Jan. 2001, ten years, $252 million).
Both contracts were gargantuan, for amounts of money that seemed obscene at the time – and still do. Yet both, under the representation of Scott Boras, opted out of the last few years of the deals, expecting to make even more. The two were nearly traded for each other in 2003 before the Players Association rejected an agreement with Boston that would have reduced A-Rod’s compensation by $4 million per year. Both players are sure Hall of Famers, two of the greatest right-handed hitters who ever lived.

A-Rod’s opt-out brought him more years and more money; Manny does not yet know how it will work and where he’ll end up “being Manny.” Would A-Rod trade his three MVPs for just one of Manny’s two World Series titles — or even a single World Series at-bat? We’d like to think so, but honestly, we don’t know.

It’s kind of interesting to think that Bonds was very close to becoming an Atlanta Brave in 1992. I don’t think there has ever been a free agent signing in baseball that made a bigger impact than when Bonds went to San Fran. Makes you wonder if things would have been different in Atlanta and if he would have stayed in a city/state dominated by college football and NASCAR for as long as he wound up staying in Frisco.

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