No. 2 – Christian Yelich, $182M remaining
Before the season started, there’s a very good chance this contract would have been at the top of the list. And it wouldn’t be difficult to make that argument today. However, enough has happened in the last six weeks or so to shuffle things up.
Yelich was a very good player with the Miami Marlins. Strong batting averages, terrific plate discipline, and developing power all demonstrated his abilities and growth. Then he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers and simply took off for stardom.
Yes, the change in ballparks from a pitcher’s paradise to a hitter’s haven helped, but Yelich started elevating the ball, clearing the fences with regularity. His first two seasons with the Brewers resulted in two All-Star appearances, a pair of Silver Slugger awards, and the MVP trophy in 2017 and a runner-up finish the next season.
But then back issues cropped up, and Yelich’s performance since has been the worst of his career. Sure, he’s still been solid, but teams don’t give nine-year, $215M contract extensions to solid players. (Only seven of those years were newly added.) He’s playing well again so far this season, but there’s a lot of time for things to go wrong, and back injuries tend to recur, so this pact will be scrutinized closely for its duration.