List of highest-paid Major League Baseball players

In 2019, Mike Trout signed a 12-year, $426 million contract with the Angels, the richest contract in the history of North American sports.
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 earned the highest salary in MLB in 2013 at $28,000,000. He also has the highest career earnings in MLB history.

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.[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 $856,850 ($16,576,424 inflation-adjusted from 1934 dollars) over his entire playing career.[3] 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."[4][5]

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).[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 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.[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, 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.[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]

  1. ^ "MLB players, owners announce five-year labor deal". ESPN.com. Associated Press. October 25, 2006. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  2. ^ Bloom, Barry (March 10, 2009). "Fehr does not foresee a salary cap". MLB.com. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  3. ^ "Babe Ruth Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  4. ^ Hampton, Wilborn (2009). Babe Ruth: A twentieth-century life. New York: Viking. p. 162. ISBN 978-0-670-06305-5. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  5. ^ Stewart, Wayne (2006). Babe Ruth: A biography. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 93. ISBN 0-313-33596-6. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c "$252,000,000: A-Rod, Rangers agree to richest deal in sports history". Sports Illustrated. Associated Press. December 14, 2000. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  7. ^ "Selig gives blessing to mega-merger". ESPN.com. February 17, 2004. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  8. ^ a b "Rodriguez finalizes $275M deal with Yankees". ESPN.com. December 13, 2007. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  9. ^ a b "MLB's average salary eclipses $3M for first time". ESPN.com. Associated Press. December 13, 2010. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  10. ^ Belth, Alex (December 2, 2005). "From Catfish to A-Rod: Landmark moments from baseball's free-agent era". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  11. ^ "Salary Progression Chart". Sports Illustrated. Associated Press. December 14, 2000. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  12. ^ "2013 MLB Salaries by team". USA Today. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  13. ^ Nightengale, Bob (April 11, 2010). "Parity? Yankees, Red Sox loom large for smaller market teams". USA Today. Retrieved March 6, 2011.
  14. ^ Kepner, Tyler (April 6, 2010). "Edginess Over the Yankees' Payroll". The New York Times. Retrieved March 6, 2011.

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