Francisco Lindor is now under contract with the Mets through 2031, and they’ll cut him checks for 10 years beyond that due to deferred money. Before accounting for Lindor’s $50M in deferrals, his $341M contract ranks third in MLB history behind Mookie Betts and Mike Trout. The net present value of Lindor’s deal is $332.39M, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, and it’s been previously reported that Betts’ $365M extension actually had a present-day value of $306.66M. Fernando Tatis Jr.s’ 14-year, $340M extension actually outranks Lindor and Betts in that sense, even though Lindor’s final million bucks was clearly tacked on so he and his agents at SportsMeter can at least nominally say he passed the Padres’ shortstop.
In our interpretation, Trout’s 10-year, $360M extension from March 2019 still reigns supreme among baseball contracts. Though Trout tore up his existing contract and technically put pen to paper on a 12-year, $426.5M deal with the Angels, he had two years and $66.5M remaining on his old deal at the time. The Angels committed $360M in new money, which is the figure we think matters and allows for accurate comparison. Baseball’s first true $400M man has yet to be anointed, and that’s unlikely to happen as part of the 2021-22 free agent class.
Though he fell short of our top 10 back in March, Astros righty Lance McCullers Jr. is also off the board. McCullers signed a five-year, $85M extension to remain with the Astros, a reminder that Boras Corp. clients don’t always explore free agency. McCullers had age on his side, as he doesn’t turn 28 until October. The Astros were willing to grant McCullers a fifth year despite the fact that he has never pitched as many as 140 major league innings in a single season, postseason included. That’s partially due to his November 2018 Tommy John surgery, from which McCullers is fully recovered, as well as the shortened 60-game MLB season in 2020.
As a catcher slated to hit free agency in his age 32 season, the Royals’ Salvador Perez also failed to crack the top 10 last month. Perez did better than I thought, with his agents at Beverly Hills Sports Council securing a four-year, $82M extension. He will be nearly four years younger than Yadier Molina was upon starting his three-year extension, so it makes sense that Perez would command a longer term. Perez was also able to inch past Molina’s $20M average annual value, becoming the third catcher to reach that mark along with standard-bearer J.T. Realmuto.
The 2021-22 MLB free agent power rankings below represent my estimation of the players’ earning power, with the uncertainty of the expiring collective bargaining agreement set aside. You can see the full list of 2021-22 MLB free agents here.