Among the group of the top 10 best paid players in baseball, we have three teams sending more than one player. The Philadelphia Phillies with two (Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard), Seattle Mariners with two (Robinson Cano, Felix Hernandez) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke).
10. CC Sabathia, New York Yankees – $24 Million
Sabathia continues to look like a mess with a 2-6 record and a 5.47 ERA. The six-time All-Star and 2007 Cy Young winner will make $25 million in 2016 and has a $25 million vesting option in 2017 if he 1) does not end 2016 on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury, 2) does not spend more than 45 days in 2016 on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury or 3) does not make more than six relief appearances in 2016 because of a left shoulder injury.
9. Prince Fielder, Texas Rangers – $24 Million
After a rough first season with the Rangers Fielder is terrific in 2015, batting a league-best .358 and hitting 8 home runs in 44 games. He is owed a further $120 million through 2020, although the Detroit Tigers will be paying $30 million of that.
8. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners – $24 Million
After five years of being in the top 6 of the MVP voting, Cano is having a rough year, hitting just 1 home run in 43 games and batting a .247 (he’s a career .308). After this season, he’s still owed $192 million through the 2023 season, when he’ll be 40.
7. Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels – $24 Million
Pujols is on pace for around 30 home runs this season but he’s batting just .229, which would be the lowest of his career if he keeps it up until the end of the season. Pujols is on contract until 2021, making $165 million from next season and until the end. Once the contract is over, a 10-year, $10M personal-services contract begins.
6. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners – $24.85 Million
Hernandez is scorching once again in 2015, going 7-1 with a 2.19 ERA, his first shutout since 2012 and a league best 0.941 WHIP. The 29-year old has a guaranteed contract through 2019 (making $107.4 million from 2016 until the end) and there’s a $1 million team option in 2020 which the club may use if Hernandez spends more than 130 consecutive days on disabled list with right elbow surgery or other procedure to repair right elbow injury.
5. Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies – $25 Million
Lee has been injured since the beginning of this season, not playing a single time for the Phillies. He’s selling his Philadelphia home (for $6.5 million or something like that), and won’t be on the team in the 2016 season.
4. Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies – $25 Million
While Howard isn’t playing like an MVP (and never will), he’s doing fine in 2015, hitting .268 and 10 home runs through 41 games. He has one more guaranteed season worth $25 million. In 2017 it’s a $23 million team option.
3. Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers – $27 Million
The third highest paid player and pitcher in the majors, but probably the best this season, with a 6-1 record, a 1.48 ERA and a 0.869 WHIP. Greinke has three more years left on his deal worth $77 million.
2. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers – $28 Million
Verlander will make $28 million in each season from 2016 through 2019. In 2020 there’s a $22 million vesting option. What’s the condition? He has to be a top 5 in the 2019 Cy Young vote to make that money and contract ending guaranteed.
1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers – $31 Million
After three Cy Young awards in four years and winning the NL MVP last season, Kershaw has hit a road bump, with a 4.32 ERA and declining severely in pretty much every possible metric. Kershaw has five more seasons left on his deal worth $175.9 million. He can opt out of his deal following the 2018 season.