The first big domino in MLB Hot Stove season fell on Thursday morning, as the Chicago White Sox nabbed former Milwaukee Brewers catcher Yasmani Grandal, signing him to a four-year, $73 million contract.
Considering the amount of money Grandal salvaged after his one-year "prove it" stint in Milwaukee, we began thinking about the biggest catcher contracts in league history. Here are the five biggest deals for backstops.
5. Yadier Molina
When looking at the better catchers of the past decade, Yadier Molina's name is one of the first to come to mind. Prior to the 2012 season, Molina had numerous All-Star appearances and Gold Glove awards to his credit. Of course, Molina was a member (and leader) of the St. Louis Cardinals' World Series-winning teams in 2006 and 2011. Molina was rewarded by the team in 2012 with a five-year, $75 million contract extension, making him the second-highest paid catcher in the league at that time.
4. Russell Martin
Believe it or not, Russell Martin cracks the top five of the list. In 2014, Martin was arguably the most consistent player on the Pittsburgh Pirates, as evidenced by his .290 batting average, .402 on-base percentage, 11 homers and 67 RBI. The Toronto Blue Jays, looking to crack their way to the top of the AL East, signed Martin to a five-year, $82 million deal. While he struggled towards the end of his contract, his play helped Toronto make two consecutive ALCS appearances in 2015 and 2016.
3. Mike Piazza
Mike Piazza emerged as one of the league's best catchers in the 1990s. Piazza's 1998 season was a strange one, as he was moved from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Florida Marlins. After playing just five games with his new squad, Piazza was promptly traded to the New York Mets. The team from Queens knew what they were getting in Piazza and decided to get a head start on negotiations. Following the season, the Mets locked in Piazza to a seven-year, $91 million contract. In that span, the catcher solidified himself as the face of the franchise, while adding to his Hall of Fame resume.
2. Buster Posey
There had been tremendous hype surrounding Buster Posey before he was initially called up by the San Francisco Giants (a move that swiftly became permanent) in 2010. After winning two World Series championships and an NL MVP in his first three seasons, Posey was bound to get paid a boatload of money by the Giants. The team obliged by giving Posey an eight-year, $159 million contract, and it proved to be well worth it.
1. Joe Mauer
Of course, the greatest catcher of this generation cracks the No. 1 spot on the list. Joe Mauer was the hometown hero for the Minnesota Twins ever since drafting him first overall in the 2001 MLB Draft. Mauer was bound to cash in on a lucrative contract, especially after winning the AL MVP award in 2009, where he led the league in batting average (.365), on-base percentage (.444), and slugging percentage (.587). The Twins rewarded Mauer with an eight-year, $184 million contract, officially making him the richest catcher in MLB history.