New York Yankees superstar Aaron Judge is putting the finishing touches on one of the most impressive contract years in baseball history, and a massive payday awaits this offseason as he tests the free-agent waters for the first time in his career.

That got us to thinking about some of the other all-time great contract years.

Remember Carlos Beltrán's electrifying 2004 postseason as a rental for the Houston Astros?

Or Greg Maddux winning National League Cy Young honors in his final season with the Chicago Cubs before the same offseason when NL MVP Barry Bonds jumped ship from Pittsburgh to San Francisco?

We've highlighted some of the greatest contract years in MLB history, ordered alphabetically. Let's kick things off with some honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

These players didn't make our list, but their contract years are worthy of a mention:

RP Rich Gossage, PIT (1977)

SP Nolan Ryan, CAL (1979)

OF Robin Yount, MIL (1989)

OF Bobby Bonilla, PIT (1991)

1B Rafael Palmeiro, TEX (1993)

OF Larry Walker, MON (1994)

SP David Cone, TOR/NYY (1995)

OF Albert Belle, CLE (1996)

SP Randy Johnson, SEA/HOU (1998)

OF Bernie Williams, NYY (1998)

2B Bret Boone, SEA (2001)

OF Gary Sheffield, ATL (2003)

C Ivan Rodriguez, FLA (2003)

OF J.D. Drew, ATL (2004)

OF Gary Matthews Jr., TEX (2006)

3B Alex Rodriguez, NYY (2007)

OF Manny Ramirez, BOS/LAD (2008)

IF/OF Chone Figgins, LAA (2009)

1B Prince Fielder, MIL (2011)

OF Josh Hamilton, LAA (2012)

SP Max Scherzer, DET (2014)

SP Jon Lester, BOS/OAK (2014)

SP David Price, DET/TOR (2015)

DH J.D. Martinez, DET/ARI (2017)

SP Gerrit Cole, HOU (2019)

2B DJ LeMahieu, NYY (2020)

2B Marcus Semien, TOR (2021)

1B Freddie Freeman, ATL (2021)


CF Carlos Beltrán, 2004

The American League Rookie of the Year for the Kansas City Royals in 1999, Carlos Beltrán became the best player on a thin roster, logging three straight 20-homer, 30-steal seasons heading into his contract year in 2004.

Without the financial flexibility to sign him long-term, the Royals sold high on their star center fielder in June, shipping him to the Houston Astros in a three-team, five-player blockbuster deal that brought John Buck, Mark Teahen and Mike Wood to Kansas City.

Beltrán didn't miss a beat while changing teams, finishing the '04 season with a 133 OPS+ while tallying 36 doubles, 38 home runs, 104 RBI, 121 runs scored and 42 steals in 45 attempts for a 6.8-WAR season.

He then helped the Astros reach the NL Championship Series with one of the most impressive postseasons in MLB history, hitting .435/.536/1.022 with 20 hits, eight home runs and six steals in 12 games.

The New York Mets signed him to a seven-year, $119 million deal that offseason.