We are reader supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Also, as an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
Major League Baseball is beloved across the United States and around the world, and its popularity is only growing. According to Forbes, MLB earned an estimated $10.8 billion in revenue in 2022 – a new record high. Therefore, it’s no surprise that superstar baseball players are earning higher salaries than ever before. With that in mind, you might be wondering: who is the highest-paid MLB player of all?
Starting pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander of the New York Mets are the highest-paid MLB players. They will each earn $43.33 million in 2023, the highest single-season salary in league history.
Previously, Scherzer alone was the highest-paid player. He earned $43.33 million in 2022, the first season of a three-year, $130 million contract. In December 2022, Verlander signed a two-year, $86.66 million deal, matching Scherzer’s annual salary.
The highest-paid position player is Aaron Judge, who will earn $40 million in 2023 in the first season of his nine-year, $360 million contract with the New York Yankees. Judge, Scherzer, and Verlander are the only MLB players to ever make $40 million (or more) in a single season.
Who Are the Highest-Paid MLB Players for 2023?
After Scherzer, Verlander, and Judge, the highest-paid MLB players for the 2023 season will be Anthony Rendon ($38.57 million), Mike Trout ($37.12 million), Gerrit Cole ($36 million), Corey Seager ($31 million), Trevor Bauer ($35.33 million), Stephen Strasburg ($35 million), and Nolan Arenado ($35 million).
Rendon, Trout, Seager, and Arenado are position players, while Cole, Bauer, and Strasburg are position players. Rendon and Trout play for the Angels, Cole plays for the Yankees, Seager plays for the Rangers, Bauer was released by the Dodgers, Strasburg plays for the Nationals, and Arenado plays for the Cardinals.
Who Is the Highest-Paid MLB Player by Career Earnings?
The highest-paid MLB player in terms of career earnings is Alex Rodriguez, who earned an incredible $399.28 million in his playing career. He signed his first big contract in 2000, a ten-year, $252 million deal with the Rangers. It was the largest contract in MLB history at the time.
Rodriguez opted out of his deal in 2007 and signed a new ten-year contract with the New York Yankees, this time for $275 million. Once again, it was the largest free-agent contract in MLB history. Rodriguez retired in 2017.
The highest-paid active player by career earnings is Miguel Cabrera, who has made $353.19 million over 20 years. He will earn an additional $32 million in 2023. Cabrera intends to retire when his contract expires after the 2023 season.
Who Signed the Biggest Contract in MLB History?
The most lucrative contract in MLB history went to Mookie Betts, who signed an extension with the Dodgers worth $365 million over 12 years. However, $115 million – 31.5% of the total contract – is deferred through the year 2044, which diminishes the present-day value of the deal.
Mike Trout and Aaron Judge are tied with the second-biggest contracts in MLB history. Trout signed a ten-year, $360 million extension in 2019, while Judge signed a nine-year, $360 million free-agent contract in 2022. None of the money in either of their contracts is deferred. Therefore, some might say Trout and Judge have the biggest contracts in MLB history in terms of actual money.
What’s more, some sources will report that Trout signed a $436.5 million extension in 2019. That would easily be the most lucrative MLB contract of all time. However, he was already guaranteed $66.5 million from the Angels, so the extension only netted him an extra $360 million.
Who Signed the Longest Contract in MLB History?
Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres is signed to the longest contract in MLB history. He came to terms with the Padres on a 14-year extension worth $340 million in 2021.
The second-longest contracts belong to Julio Rodríguez, Bryce Harper, and Giancarlo Stanton, all of whom signed 13-year deals. Rodríguez signed in 2022 for $210 million, Harper signed in 2019 for $330 million, and Stanton signed in 2015 for $325 million.
Harper is the only player to sign a contract of 12 years or longer as a free agent. Tatis, Rodríguez, and Stanton all signed extensions before reaching free agency, as did Mookie Betts.
How Many MLB Players Have Signed a $300 Million Contract?
Only twelve MLB players have signed a $300 million contract. Those players are Mookie Betts ($365 million), Mike Trout ($360 million), Aaron Judge ($360 million), Francisco Lindor ($341 million), Fernando Tatis Jr. ($340 million), Bryce Harper ($330 million), Giancarlo Stanton ($325 million), Corey Seager ($325 million), Gerrit Cole ($324 million), Rafael Devers ($313.5 million), Manny Machado ($300 million), and Trea Turner ($300 million).
Of those twelve, only one is a pitcher: Gerrit Cole. Betts, Trout, Judge, Harper, and Stanton are outfielders, while Lindor, Tatis, Seager, Devers, Machado, and Turner are infielders. None are catchers.
Joe Mauer signed the largest contract ever given to a catcher in 2010. The deal was an extension with the Minnesota Twins worth $184 million over eight years. Mauer retired following the completion of the contract.
Who Was the First Baseball Player to Make a Million Dollars?
The first MLB player to make a million dollars in a season was Houston Astros pitcher Nolan Ryan. He signed a four-year, $4.5 million contract in 1979, making him the highest-paid player in baseball history at the time.
In today’s game, it is common for players to earn over a million dollars. While the league minimum salary is still below one million, the league average is significantly more.
What Is the Average Salary in MLB?
The average salary of an MLB player in 2022 was approximately $4.41 million, according to The Associated Press. This marked a 5.9% increase from the year before, when the average was $4.17 million.
However, that average figure is somewhat distorted by the players at the far end of the spectrum. The median MLB salary is much lower, estimated to be about $1.5 million.
What Is the Minimum Salary in MLB?
The league minimum salary in 2022 was $700,000. This was up from $570,500 the year before. The MLB Players Association bargained for this increase as part of CBA negotiations during the 2021-22 offseason. Under the new CBA, the league minimum salary will rise by approximately $16,000 each year until 2026.
Does Baseball Have a Salary Cap?
Baseball does not have a salary cap. Each team is free to spend however much money they want on their roster. In 2022, the Los Angeles Dodgers had the highest payroll at $270.81 million, while the Baltimore Orioles had the lowest payroll at $44.89 million.
MLB does not have a salary cap because the Players Association does not want one. The players feel that a salary cap would give the owners more power to drive salaries down, and therefore the players would get a smaller percentage of league revenues.
However, MLB does have a competitive balance tax (often called the “luxury tax”) to discourage teams from spending over a certain threshold. There are four different luxury tax thresholds, and teams face different penalties for surpassing each one. There are also additional penalties for exceeding luxury tax thresholds multiple years in a row.
In 2022, the first luxury tax threshold was set at $230 million, and every team that spent more than $230 million on their payroll had to pay a 20% tax on the overage. The Dodgers, Yankees, Mets, Phillies, Padres, and Red Sox all paid the tax in 2022.
What Is Luxury Tax Payroll?
Every year, a baseball team has two different payroll totals. One is called “actual payroll,” and it measures the total amount of money the team is spending on players. The other is called “luxury tax payroll,” and it counts how close a team is to exceed the luxury tax threshold or how much tax they must pay on their overages.
Luxury tax payroll is different from actual payroll because it counts the average annual value of each player’s contract rather than the player’s actual yearly salary. This means that if a player is signed to a three-year, $30 million contract, his salary will count as $10 million towards the luxury tax payroll each year, no matter how much the team is actually paying him that season.
This system exists to prevent teams from circumventing luxury tax penalties by front-loading or back-loading contracts.
Who Is the Richest MLB Owner?
The wealthiest MLB owner is Steven A. Cohen, who owns the New York Mets. Cohen purchased the Mets in 2020 for $2.4 billion. His net worth is approximately $17.5 billion, according to Forbes.
Which MLB Team Has the Biggest Payroll?
The New York Mets will have the highest payroll in baseball for the 2023 season. They are set to spend more than $350 million on players, and they will have to pay tens of millions more in luxury tax penalties.
It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that the Mets have the highest payroll. After all, they will have the two highest-paid players in 2023: Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. They also employ the 11th-highest-paid player, Francisco Lindor.
Where Can I Find MLB Player Salaries?
Information about MLB payrolls, contracts, and player salaries is freely available on several websites. Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Spotrac, MLB Trade Rumors, and Roster Resource on FanGraphs are some of the most reliable sources.
Who Is the Highest-Paid NBA Player?
The highest-paid NBA player of the 2022-23 season is Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. He is earning $48.07 million, a record-high for an NBA player. Curry has earned the highest NBA salary every year since 2017.
However, because of his endorsement deals, LeBron James is still the biggest-earning basketball star in the world. He made an estimated $124.5 million last season, per Forbes.
Who Is the Highest-Paid NFL Player?
Unsurprisingly, the highest-earning football players are all quarterbacks. The highest-paid NFL player during the 2022 season was Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. According to NFL.com, he made $50.27 million, just beating out Russell Wilson of the Denver Broncos. Wilson took home $49 million.
In terms of career earnings, Tom Brady comes out on top. He has made approximately $332.96 million during his NFL career.
Who Is the Highest-Paid NHL Player?
The highest-paid player in the NHL during the 2022-23 season is Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars. Seguin will earn a base salary of $13 million.
By cap hit, the highest-earning player is Connor McDavid, whose cap hit is $12.5 million, per Spotrac. McDavid is also the highest-earning player overall, including both NHL salary and paid endorsement deals.