Highest Paid MLB Players of all Time
Ever wonder how much your favorite player makes per year? How about if being a part of a big market team lends itself to higher pay and recognition? The average Major League Baseball player makes a killing at 4.17 million dollars! The minimum pay is $563,500. In comparison, the average salary for a minor league player is far less, ranging from $6,000 in Single-A to $15,000 in Triple-A ($9,350 in Double-A). Many minor league players are forced into taking a second, or even third job to complement their dream of one day becoming a professional baseball player. Meanwhile, players in the MLB are locked into one of the highest-paid jobs around the world and become household names. What then are the highest-paid MLB players of all time? Let’s take a look.
1. Alex Rodriguez -441 Million in 22 seasons
You do the math here. This Yankees legend has not just padded his stat line but has also left a legendary mark on his bank account. The former shortstop has not let his investment run dry after playing, however. His impressive endeavors and portfolio investments now include real estate, fintech, telemedicine, and skincare (along with his wife Jennifer Lopez). The legend won three MVPs and hit the fourth-most home runs of all time (698), third-most Runs Batted In (2,084), and sixth most total bases (5,811). Rodriguez tarnished his reputation following a report that he had done performance-enhancing drugs. The 14-time all-star was suspended for a season and lost over $40 million, as a result. His presence in the Hall of Fame is also still up in the air following the incident. One thing is for certain: the superstar slugger has a payroll that will last him a lifetime.
2. Albert Pujols -309.2 Million in 19 seasons
Currently 41 years old, Pujols is still finding himself on the diamond. The three-time MVP and 10-time all-star is a first baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He spent 10 years with the St.Louis Cardinals and nine with the Los Angeles Angels. Throughout his career, the legend has compiled an impressive stat line. Yet, fans have argued that the star should have hung up the cleats a little sooner. Of note is that his most recent four-year stretch in the MLB has put him at sixth worst for first baseman going back to 1901. Crazy, right? Fans cannot argue, however, that this multi-dimensional playmaker has put up an outstanding amount of cold hard cash.
3. Miguel Cabrera -291 Million in 18 seasons
Cabrera could have easily found himself abovePujols with one more season under his belt, but surely this Tigers legend has no problem with where he’s at. The first baseman was not only the face of the franchise for well over a decade, he amounted to 11 All-Star appearances, 2 MVP awards, and one world series victory for his top-notch career. He jokes that the next step of his life he will be a rapper, amongst the likes of Eminem. It surely isn’t a joke, though, that this star has enough money for many years to come.
4. Derek Jeter- 266.2 million in 20 seasons
It comes as no surprise that this Yankees superstar makes the list. Besides, thousands of New York parents named their kids after this man, who sits as one of baseball’s best. In his storybook career, Jeter shocked the world with moments that lifted baseball’s best franchise to the top. For example, he hit a walk-off single in his final home game as a New York Yankee. Five world series victories along with the first Yankee to reach 3,000 hits is no walk in the park. Neither is 266.2 million bucks, over 13 million a season (would be more with today's inflation).
5. CC Sabathia- 264.8 million in 19 seasons
Winning 251 games in his career, Sabathia is tied with Bob Gibson for the second-most wins by an African American pitcher in major league history. He threw for 3,093 strikeouts (one of only 17 pitchers above the 3,000 mark) alongside an earned run average of 3.74. Impressively, the pitcher was worth 62.5 wins above replacement and 29 wins above average, making him one of the most valuable athletes to play the sport. It sure helps to win when playing for a team like the New York Yankees, and Sabathia has put up a wide array of awards to cement his fame. He won the 2007 AL Cy Young Award, 2009 ALCS MVP, and a championship in 2009. He was a fan favorite and boasts a pitching resume that is topped by very few.
6. Carlos Beltran -248.9 million in 20 seasons
Perhaps the first surprise on this list, Beltran did not win a world series or an MVP award. However, he was as consistent as can be. In 2,586 games across 20 years of play, the center fielder had a .279 average with 1,582 runs, 435 home runs, and 1,587 runs batted in. Additionally, he is a three-time gold glove winner, nine-time all-star, and was the 1999 AL Rookie of the Year. The Puerto Rican played for seven teams and was worth 70.1 wins above replacement and 34.3 wins above league average. He is eligible for the Hall of Fame BBWAA ballot in 2023.
7. Justin Verlander -241.6 million in 16 seasons
Verlander and his wife Kate Upton have one of the highest combined net worths of all athlete couples in the world (115 million net worth). The Astros pitcher continues to toss from the mound with no plans on retiring, though it is likely he will head to a new team as he is in the final year of his contract. Across his career, the 38-year-old first-round pick has received several incredible accolades. He is an eight-time all-star, five-time strikeout leader, two-time Cy Young winner, 2006 AL Rookie of the Year, and 2011 AL MVP. He was a big reason that the Astros won the 2017 world series, and is a virtual lock for the Hall of Fame when eligible.
8. Manny Ramirez -232.1 million in 19 seasons
The definition of a super slugger, Ramirez was one of the best hitters to step in front of the plate. Across his 19 seasons, he boasted a .312 batting average, 555 home runs (good for 15th all-time), and 1,831 runs batted in (18th all-time). He was a key contributor in breaking the 86 year world series drought for the Boston Red Sox in 2004, hitting .412 in the world series and winning MVP. Once again in 2007, the star from the Dominican Republic, led the Red Sox to a world series victory. The outfielder was a 12-time all-star, nine-time silver slugger, He is on the ballot for the 2021 hall of fame induction after controversy from testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs three times (he retired after opting not to serve a 100 game suspension).
9. Clayton Kershaw -228 million in 12 seasons
This 33-year-old ace has what it takes to become one of the best pure pitchers of all time. Face it, he has a career of 184-93 record, 2.48 ERA, and 2653 strikeouts through just 12 seasons. He is a Los Angeles Dodgers legend and has spent his entire baseball tenure with the team. The Dallas, Texas native is an eight-time all-star, three-time NL CY Young winner award winner, 2014 NL MVP, five-time MLB earned run average champion and three-time strikeout champion. Most of all, Kershaw earned his first World Series championship ring in 2020. Expect to see his jersey retired in the future, but for now, keep your eyes open when he takes to the mound.
10. Zack Greinke -228 million in 16 seasons
Entering his 17th season, one would expect a pitcher to put their foot on the breaks. Not Zack Greinke. The 37-year-old is 10-3 (3rd currently) with a 3.65 (10th currently) earned run average in 2021. The former first-round draft pick has played for six different teams and thrown for 2,782 strikeouts. He has made it clear that he has no plans on retiring, at least for now. Back in 2009, he told an ESPN reporter that, “I was going to get a job where I didn't have to be around people all the time. Mainly, just mowing the grass was my goal.” Now, the six-time all-star, six-time gold glover, two-time MLB earned run average leader, and 2009 AL CY Young Award winner is all people can talk about.
Notice any trends on the list? How about that over half of the highest-paid players (in total earnings) of all time come from the Yankees and Dodgers! It pays off to play for a more recognizable team with a large market and massive fanbase to back it up. Several teams failed to have a single player on this list, mainly due to their lower fan engagement and lesser salary cap to work with. Stars of tomorrow such as Yoan Moncada (Boston Red Sox), Victor Robles (Washington Nationals), Julio Urias (Los Angeles Dodgers), and Lucas Giolito (Washington Nationals) look to become the next crop of highest-paid players. All four boast promising appeal, including playing for teams that compete at the highest level and receive plenty of praise. On another note, current all-stars Shohei Ohtani, Fernando Tatis Jr, Vladimir Guerro Jr, Ronald Acuña Jr., and Aaron Judge are already trending towards this list at rapid rates.