Being close to the beginning of the 2017 MLB season is a good time to check out the highest paid players in the league. The top 10 list includes two players from both the Chicago Cubs and Detroit Tigers, while as expected pitchers are dominating, holding 7 of the top 10 spots.
9-10. Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs: $25 million
Fresh off winning his 3rd World Series, this time making a special kind of history with the Chicago Cubs, the 33-year old Lester is entering his third season in Chicago, following a strong 2016, which included finishing 2nd in the Cy Young vote, making the All-Star game and a strong postseason, winning the NLCS MVP. There are four guaranteed seasons left on his deal with the Cubs ($155 million, 6 years overall), with a $25 million team option in 2021, which can become guaranteed depending on his inning count in the season before.
9-10. CC Sabathia, New York Yankees: $25 million
The 36-year old Sabathia will enter his 9th season as a Yankee in 2017, probably his last with the team, concluding a run that included winning the World Series in 2009 and three strong years in 2010-2012. He actually played his best baseball in years last season, posting a 3.91 ERA through 179 inning, although his k/bb rate dropped to 2.34, his worst since his younger days in Cleveland.
8. Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels: $26 million
Pujols began his MLB career back in 2001. 2017 will be his 6th with the Angels, coming off an impressive 31 home runs, 119 RBIs season in 2016, that included a slight rise in his average and a drop in his slugging and OPS. Pujols signed a 10-year, $254 million deal with the Angels in 2012, which runs through the 2021 season, with his salary rising by $1 million each season. He’ll make $30 million in 20121.
7. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners: $26,857,142
Hernandez missed the All-Star game for the first time since 2010 last season, injuries limiting him to 25 starts and 153 innings. His 3.82 ERA was his worst since 2007 and his 1.324 WHIP was his worst since 2008. He has 3 more guaranteed seasons worth $81.4 million on his deal. In 2020, the Mariners, the only team he’s ever played for, have a $1 million team option on Hernandez, which the club can exercise depending on his right elbow situation.
5-6. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers: $28 million
Cabrera is coming off another impressive season, in which he made his 11th All-Star (7th in a row) while batting 38 home runs and winning his 7th silver slugger award. The Tigers first baseman has $212 million coming his way through 2023, and then two consecutive seasons with a $30 million vesting option, all depending on his MVP Voting status in the previous season.
5-6. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers: $28 million
Life is good for Verlander, who has Kate Upton fighting his fights after finishing second in the Cy Young voting. It was Verlander’s best season since 2012, posting a 3.04 ERA while leading the league in strikeouts (254) and WHIP (1.001). He has 3 more years on his deal worth $84 million, plus a 2020 vesting option worth $22 million if he finishes in the top 5 of the Cy Young votes in 2019.
4. Jason Heyward, Chicago Cubs: $28,166,66
While Heyward didn’t deliver the offensive numbers expected from someone making so much money, he did pick up another Gold Glove in his first season of an 8-year, $184 million deal to keep him in Chicago. Most importantly, despite batting just .150 in the World Series, he reportedly delivered the speech that pushed the Cubs towards winning the World Series. He has the right to opt out of his deal in 2018 and 2019.
3. David Price, Boston Red Sox: $30 million
Price signed a 7-year, $217 million with the Red Sox when he joined them before the 2016 season. When speaking pure, individual numbers, his debut season in Boston wasn’t great, but he did lead the league in pitched innings (230) and finished with a 17-9 record. In the postseason, surprise surprise, he lasted less than four innings in one appearance, finishing with a 13.50 ERA. He has $187 million coming his way in the next 6 seasons, unless he opts out after 2018.
2. Zack Greinke, Arizona Diamondbacks: $34 million
After some great seasons with the Dodgers, Greinke signed a 6-year, $206.5 million contract to try and kick start the Arizona franchise back into relevance. In year 1, it didn’t work, despite winning a Gold Glove. Greinke posted a 4.37 ERA, started in just 26 games, and didn’t live up to the expectations from his massive salary. He has $172.5 million still coming his way through 2021.
1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers: $35,571,428
If it wasn’t for a back injury that limited him to 21 starts and 149 innings, Kershaw was on pace for another Cy Young award. The 3-time winner and 6-time All-Star posted a 1.69 ERA, and an incredible 15.64 k/bb ratio. He got to win his first playoff series since 2013, although the celebrations stopped against the Cubs. Kershaw is signed through 2020, but can opt out after the 2018 season.
The list includes 7 starting pitchers, 1 first baseman (Cabrera), 1 DH (Pujols) and 1 RF (Jason Heyward). But what about the rest?
Highest paid catcher: Buster Posey, $22.1 million (San Francisco Giants)
Second Baseman: Robinson Cano, $24 million (Seattle Mariners)
Third Baseman: David Wright, $20 million (New York Mets)
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, $20 million (Toronto Blue Jays)
CF: Yoenis Cespedes, $22.5 million (New York Mets)
LF: Justin Upton, $22.1 million (Detroit Tigers)
Relief pitcher: Aroldis Chapman, $21 million (New York Yankees)