29. Oakland A’s
Back in 2005, when the A’s and third baseman Eric Chavez came to terms on a six year, $66 million deal, it could not have occurred to anyone that the A’s would never sign another player for more money than that.
We are nearly 18 years removed from that event and it hasn’t happened yet.
By then, Chavez was a veteran of some of the elite Oakland teams. His A’s topped 100 wins in both 2001 and 2002 and won four division titles with Chavez at third base.
But money being what it is in the cash-strapped east bay, the funds to keep players like Chavez soon dried up. Yoenis Cespedes got four years and $36 million in 2012, then in 2020 Khris Davis — the other Khris Davis — set the franchise AAV record. He signed for two seasons at $16.75 million per season.
For the most part, A’s players hang around until they approach free agency then get traded to a team that can better afford them. It’s what happened not long ago to Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Chris Bassitt and Marcus Semien.
In a previous generation it happened to Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder, and before them to Mark McGwire. You can fast-reverse back to Charlie Finley’s effort to trade Vida Blue, Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers in the 1970s and find that the story has never basically changed.
The striking element about the A’s is that since the Chavez signing, all of the 29 other teams have rewritten their franchise record for richest contract given. In that respect if no other, the A’s are the game’s senior citizens.