List of highest paid Major League Baseball players

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A man in a dark batting helmet, grey baseball uniform, and white gloves holds a baseball bat against the ground with his right hand.
Alex Rodriguez is earning the highest salary in MLB in 2013 at $29,000,000. He also has the highest career earnings in MLB history.

The highest paid player in Major League Baseball (MLB) from the 2013 season is New York Yankees' third baseman Alex Rodriguez with an annual salary of $29,000,000, $4 million higher than the second-highest paid player, Cliff Lee. MLB does not have a hard salary cap, instead employing a luxury tax which applies to teams whose total payroll exceeds certain set thresholds for a given season.[1][2] Free agency did not exist in MLB prior to the end of the reserve clause in the 1970s, allowing owners before that time to wholly dictate the terms of player negotiations and resulting in significantly lower salaries. Babe Ruth, widely regarded as one of the greatest baseball players ever, earned an estimated $910,696 ($13,979,283 inflation-adjusted from 1931 dollars) over his entire playing career.[3] When asked whether he thought he deserved to earn $80,000 a year ($1,117,928 inflation-adjusted), while the president, Herbert Hoover, had a $75,000 salary, Ruth famously remarked, "What the hell has Hoover got to do with it? Besides, I had a better year than he did."[4][5]

Rodriguez has signed two record-breaking contracts over the course of his career. First, he signed a $252 million, 10-year contract with the Texas Rangers in December 2000 ($341,600,000 inflation-adjusted from 2000 dollars).[6] Sandy Alderson called the deal "stupefying", while Sports Illustrated noted that Rodriguez's early salaries under the contract ($21 million) would be greater than the annual payroll of the entire Minnesota Twins team that year ($15.8 million).[6] The deal was the largest sports contract in history, doubling the total value of Kevin Garnett's $126 million National Basketball Association contract (the previous record holder) and more than doubling Mike Hampton's $121 million contract, the previous MLB record which had been signed just days before.[6] The Rangers later traded Rodriguez to the Yankees in exchange for Alfonso Soriano before the 2004 season, though they agreed to pay $67 million of the $179 million outstanding on the contract.[7] Despite this, he opted out of the remainder of his deal after the 2007 season and renegotiated a new $275 million, 10-year agreement with the Yankees, breaking his own record for the largest sports contract.[8] Under this deal, Rodriguez also receives $6 million each if and when he ties the career home run totals of Willie Mays (660), Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755), and Barry Bonds (762), along with another $6 million for breaking Bonds' mark.[8]

First base was the highest paid position in 2010; regular starters at that position earned an average salary of $9,504,165 in compared to an overall average of $3,014,572.[9] Pitcher Nolan Ryan was the first player to earn an annual salary above $1 million, signing a $4.5 million, 4-year contract with the Houston Astros in 1979.[10] Kirby Puckett and Rickey Henderson signed the first contracts which paid an average of $3 million a year in November 1989, while 2010 was the first season where the MLB average salary rose above that same mark.[9][11] Five of the twenty highest paid players in 2013 were members of the Yankees. Their team payroll for 2013 was $228,835,490, roughly $12 million above the second-largest Los Angeles Dodgers.[12] The Yankees have drawn criticism for their payroll, with some claiming it undermines the parity of MLB.[13][14]

Key
Member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and MuseumMember of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
1BFirst baseman
2BSecond baseman
3BThird baseman
SSShortstop
LFLeft fielder
CFCenter fielder
RFRight fielder
CCatcher
SPStarting pitcher
RPRelief pitcher
DHDesignated hitter

Highest paid players for 2013[edit]

This table refers to the salary for 2013 alone, not the overall average value of the contract. Salaries listed are according to the USA Today salary database.[15]
A man in a gray baseball uniform with red trim and the number "34" on the sleeve in red and a red baseball cap throwing a baseball (unseen) from a dirt mound
Cliff Lee was the highest paid player in 2013 not on the Yankees, and the second-highest overall.
NamePositionTeam(s)SalaryRef
Rodriguez, AlexAlex Rodriguez3BNew York Yankees$30,000,000[16]
Lee, CliffCliff LeeSPPhiladelphia Phillies$25,000,000[17]
Santana, JohanJohan SantanaSPNew York Mets$24,644,708[18]
Teixeira, MarkMark Teixeira1BNew York Yankees$23,125,000[19]
Fielder, PrincePrince Fielder1BTexas Rangers$23,000,000[20]
Mauer, JoeJoe MauerCMinnesota Twins$23,000,000[21]
Sabathia, CCCC SabathiaSPNew York Yankees$23,000,000[22]
Lincecum, TimTim LincecumSPSan Francisco Giants$22,250,000[23]
Greinke, ZackZack GreinkeSPLos Angeles Dodgers$21,000,000[24]
Wells, VernonVernon WellsLFNew York Yankees$21,000,000[25]
Gonzalez, AdrianAdrian Gonzalez1BLos Angeles Dodgers$21,000,000[26]
Cabrera, MiguelMiguel Cabrera3BDetroit Tigers$21,000,000[27]
Cain, MattMatt CainSPSan Francisco Giants$20,833,333[28]
Hamels, ColeCole HamelsSPPhiladelphia Phillies$20,500,000[29]
Kemp, MattMatt KempCFLos Angeles Dodgers$20,250,000[30]
Verlander, JustinJustin VerlanderSPDetroit Tigers$20,100,000[31]
Halladay, RoyRoy HalladaySPPhiladelphia Phillies$20,000,000[32]
Zito, BarryBarry ZitoSPSan Francisco Giants$20,000,000[33]
Crawford, CarlCarl CrawfordLFLos Angeles Dodgers$20,000,000[34]
Howard, RyanRyan Howard1BPhiladelphia Phillies$20,000,000[35]
Hernandez, FelixFelix HernandezSPSeattle Mariners$19,857,143[36]
Soriano, AlfonsoAlfonso SorianoLFChicago Cubs
New York Yankees
$19,000,000[37]
Hamilton, JoshJosh HamiltonRFLos Angeles Angels$17,400,000[38]
Votto, JoeyJoey Votto1BCincinnati Reds$17,000,000[39]
Jeter, DerekDerek JeterSSNew York Yankees$16,729,365[40]

Career earnings[edit]

An African American man in a white baseball uniform with "GIANTS" on the chest takes a left-handed baseball swing as a catcher kneels behind him to receive the pitch.
Though retired since 2007, Barry Bonds' career earnings of over $188 million still ranks fourth highest overall in MLB history.
Earnings up to date as of the end of the 2013 season.[E]
NameTeam(s)PositionYearsEarningsRef
Rodriguez, AlexAlex RodriguezSeattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
New York Yankees
SS, 3B1994–$353,416,252[16]
Jeter, DerekDerek JeterNew York YankeesSS1995–$253,159,364[40]
Ramirez, MannyManny RamirezCleveland Indians
Boston Red Sox
Los Angeles Dodgers
Chicago White Sox
Tampa Bay Rays
LF1993–$206,827,769[41]
Bonds, BarryBarry BondsPittsburgh Pirates
San Francisco Giants
LF1986–2007$188,245,322[42]
Johnson, RandyRandy JohnsonMontreal Expos
Seattle Mariners
Houston Astros
Arizona Diamondbacks
New York Yankees
San Francisco Giants
SP1988–2009$175,550,019[43]
Rivera, MarianoMariano RiveraNew York YankeesRP1995–2013$169,441,825[44]
Jones, ChipperChipper JonesAtlanta Braves3B1993–2012$168,552,133[45]
Sheffield, GaryGary SheffieldMilwaukee Brewers
San Diego Padres
Florida Marlins
Los Angeles Dodgers
Atlanta Braves
New York Yankees
Detroit Tigers
New York Mets
RF1988–2009$168,008,550[46]
Helton, ToddTodd HeltonColorado Rockies1B1998–2013$161,490,000[47]
Beltrán, CarlosCarlos BeltránKansas City Royals
Houston Astros
New York Mets
San Francisco Giants
St. Louis Cardinals
CF, RF1998-$160,952,782[48]
Santana, JohanJohan SantanaMinnesota Twins
New York Mets
SP2000-$155,997,269[18]
Maddux, GregGreg MadduxChicago Cubs
Atlanta Braves
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres
SP1986–2008$153,845,000[49]
Suzuki, IchiroIchiro SuzukiSeattle Mariners
New York Yankees
RF2001-$152,631,483[50]
Griffey, Jr., KenKen Griffey, Jr.Seattle Mariners
Cincinnati Reds
Chicago White Sox
CF1988–2010$151,703,682[51]
Clemens, RogerRoger ClemensBoston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees
Houston Astros
SP1984–2007$150,601,000[52]
Halladay, RoyRoy HalladayToronto Blue Jays
Philadelphia Phillies
SP1998-$148,991,666[32]
Hunter, ToriiTorii HunterMinnesota Twins
Los Angeles Angels
Detroit Tigers
CF1997-$146,555,000[53]
Sabathia, CCCC SabathiaCleveland Indians
Milwaukee Brewers
New York Yankees
SP2001-$146,357,142[22]
Delgado, CarlosCarlos DelgadoToronto Blue Jays
Florida Marlins
New York Mets
1B1993–2011$146,299,000[54]
Martínez, PedroPedro MartínezLos Angeles Dodgers
Montreal Expos
Boston Red Sox
New York Mets
Philadelphia Phillies
SP1992–2010$146,259,585[55]

Salary progression[edit]

A man in a white baseball jersey with "ASTROS" on the chest and orange and yellow stripes on his shoulders pitches a baseball with his right hand.
Nolan Ryan (pictured) became the first player to earn an average salary above $1 million in 1979. Precisely 17 years later Albert Belle became the first player to average above $10 million a year.
This list documents the progression of the highest average annual value contracts/contract extensions.[56][P]
Average annual salaryDate signedNameTeamPositionContract duration
(Years)
Ref(s)
$1,170,000November 19, 1979Ryan, NolanNolan RyandaggerHouston AstrosSP3[10][57]
$2,500,000[a]December 15, 1980Winfield, DaveDave WinfielddaggerNew York YankeesRF10[58][59]
$2,600,000September 4, 1985Murray, EddieEddie MurraydaggerBaltimore Orioles1B5[60][61]
$2,633,333[b]February 16, 1989Hershiser, OrelOrel HershiserLos Angeles DodgersSP3[62][63]
$2,970,000November 17, 1989Saberhagen, BretBret SaberhagenKansas City RoyalsSP3[64][65]
$3,000,000[c]November 22, 1989Puckett, KirbyKirby PuckettdaggerMinnesota TwinsCF3[66][67]
$3,200,000December 1, 1989Langston, MarkMark LangstonCalifornia AngelsSP5[68][69]
$3,250,000December 11, 1989Davis, MarkMark DavisKansas City RoyalsSP4[70][71]
$3,500,000January 17, 1990Stewart, DaveDave StewartOakland AthleticsSP2[72][73]
$3,750,000January 22, 1990Clark, WillWill ClarkSan Francisco Giants1B4[74][75]
$3,860,000April 9, 1990Mattingly, DonDon MattinglyNew York Yankees1B5[76][77]
$4,700,000June 28, 1990Canseco, JoseJose CansecoOakland AthleticsRF/DH5[78][79]
$5,380,000February 2, 1991Clemens, RogerRoger ClemensBoston Red SoxSP4[52][80]
$5,800,000December 2, 1991Bonilla, BobbyBobby BonillaNew York Mets3B/RF5[81][82]
$7,100,000March 2, 1992Sandberg, RyneRyne SandbergdaggerChicago Cubs2B4[83][84]
$7,290,000December 6, 1992Bonds, BarryBarry BondsSan Francisco GiantsLF6[42][85]
$8,500,000January 31, 1996Griffey, Jr., KenKen Griffey, Jr.Seattle MarinersCF4[51][86]
$11,000,000November 19, 1996Belle, AlbertAlbert BelleChicago White SoxLF5[87][88]
$11,450,000March 20, 1997Bonds, BarryBarry BondsSan Francisco GiantsLF2[42][89]
$11,500,000August 10, 1997Maddux, GregGreg MadduxAtlanta BravesSP5[49][90]
$12,500,000December 10, 1997Martínez, PedroPedro MartínezBoston Red SoxSP6[55][91]
$13,000,000October 26, 1998Piazza, MikeMike PiazzaNew York MetsC7[92][93]
$13,333,333November 25, 1998Vaughn, MoMo VaughnAnaheim Angels1B6[94][95]
$15,000,000December 12, 1998Brown, KevinKevin BrownLos Angeles DodgersSP7[96][97]
$15,450,000[d]August 11, 2000Clemens, RogerRoger ClemensNew York YankeesSP2[d][52][98]
$17,000,000October 20, 2000Delgado, CarlosCarlos DelgadoToronto Blue Jays1B4[54][99]
$25,200,000December 10, 2000Rodriguez, AlexAlex RodriguezTexas RangersSS10[6][16]
$27,500,000December 13, 2007Rodriguez, AlexAlex RodriguezNew York Yankees3B10[8][16]

Footnotes[edit]

References[edit]

Bibliography
Footnotes
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113. What you don't know about Bobby Bonilla's Mets deal - http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/blog/jon-heyman/22771879/what-you-dont-know-about-bonilla----and-saberhagen----mets-deals