This article needs to be updated.(January 2017)
The highest-paid player in Major League Baseball (MLB) from the 2018 Major League Baseball season is Los Angeles Angels' Center Fielder Mike Trout with an annual salary of $35.54 million on a 12-year contract for $426,500,000. 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. 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 $856,850 ($16,576,424 inflation-adjusted from 1934 dollars) over his entire playing career. When asked whether he thought he deserved to earn $80,000 a year ($1,239,363 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."
Alex 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 ($378,706,087 inflation-adjusted from 2000 dollars). 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). 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. 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. 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. Under this deal, Rodriguez also received $6 million when he tied the career home run total of Willie Mays (660), and would have received $6 million more had he tied Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755), and Barry Bonds (762), along with another $6 million for breaking Bonds' mark.
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. 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. Kirby Puckett and Rickey Henderson signed the first contracts which paid an average of $3 million a year in November 1989, in 1990 Jose Canseco signed for 5 years and $23.5 million, making him the first player to earn an average of $4 million a year. It was until 2010 when the MLB average salary rose above that same mark. 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. The Yankees have drawn criticism for their payroll, with some claiming it undermines the parity of MLB.