Of the top 10 highest paid players in Major League Baseball heading into the 2014 season, three players: Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard and Cliff Lee, come from the Philadelphia Phillies. The Seattle Mariners have two representing them: Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano, while high paying team like the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers with Zack Greinke have only one player each that makes the cut.
The Texas Rangers with Prince Fielder and the Minnesota Twins with Joe Mauer are also mentioned. The split between field players and pitchers? An even 50-50 split, although the highest paid player in baseball is someone who doens’t go to work every day.
10th – Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies, $22.5 Million
Hamels beats Mark Teixeira to the 10th spot because he has more money guaranteed for the next few years, carrying his contract until 2019, when he’ll be 35. The starting pitcher is going to make the same amount until his final season, when it drops down to $20 million, which is a team option. However, the 3-time All-Star does have a vesting option if he has 400 IP in 2017-18, including 200 IP in 2018, and 2) is not on the disabled list with a shoulder or elbow injury at the end of the 2018 season.
9th – Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners, $22.857 Million
A four time All-Star and 2010 Cy Young award winner, Hernandez is signed until 2010 with the Mariners, coming off a season in which he pitched for 204.1 innings, his lowest since 2008. He is signed until 2019 with a growing salary until it hits close to $28 million. There’s a $1 million team option for 2020, which the club may exercise 2020 option if Hernandez spends more than 130 consecutive days on disabled list with right elbow surgery or other procedure to repair right elbow injury.
8th – CC Sabathia, New York Yankees, $23 Million
It was a rough 2013 for Sabathia (and the Yankees). He finished with a 12-10 record, his worst in Yankee uniform, while also pitching a 4.78 ERA, his worst ever. He is signed until 2017, with his salary growing to $25 million along the way. There’s a vesting option for that year worth $25 million, and it’s guaranteed 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. There’s also a buyout clause worth $5 million for 2017.
7th – Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins, $23 Million
Even though Mauer made the All-Star game and won the Silver Slugger award in 2013, he missed almost 50 games for the second time in three seasons. He’s signed until 2019 for the same annual salary, with no options of getting out of it for the Twins.
6th – Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels, $23 Million
The Angels, believe it or not, are stuck with Pujols through the 2021 season, when his salary will expand to $30 million, growing by a cool mil each and every single season. A 10-year, $10M personal-services contract begins once player contract expires. He played in only 99 games last season, hitting 17 home runs, the first time he’s hit less than 30 in a season, with his average falling to .258.
5th – Prince Fielder, Texas Rangers, $24 Million
No injury risk here – Fielder has played 157 games or more in each of his full seasons in the league for the Tigers and Brewers. He hit 25 home runs last season with drops on most batting numbers, but the Rangers have him until 2020, although $6 million of his salary each year from 2016 to 2020 will be paid by the Tigers.
4th – Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners, $24 Million
Over the last four seasons, Cano has been to the All-Star game four times, has won four silver slugger awards and two Golden Gloves, finishing in the top 6 of the MVP voting four times. The Mariners gave him a 10-year, $240 million deal for his services without any special clauses or get out cards for both sides.
3rd – Cliff Lee, Philadelhpia Phillies, $25 Million
The 35-year old Lee made the All-Star game last season and finished sixth in the NL CY Young voting, winning 14 games in 31 starts. He is signed through the 2016 season, although with a $27.5 million vesting option for that last year: It becomes guaranteed with 200 IP in 2015 or 400 IP in 2014-15. There’s a $12.5M Buyout.
2nd – Ryan Howard, Philadelhpia Phillies, $25 Million
Howard played a combined 151 games in 2012 and 2013; He hasn’t been an All-Star since 2010, and hasn’t been in any MVP considerations since 2011. He is signed through 2017, although the Phillies have a $25 million team option that year, coming with a $10 million buyout clause.
1st – Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers, $26 Million
The highest paid player in baseball is the 30 year old pitcher with a huge 2013, finishing with a 15-4 record to go with a 2.63 ERA, also winning the Silver Slugger award for hitting a .328 with 4 RBIs. Greinke is signed through the 2019 season with the salary varying from $26M to $25M, but he has the option of opting out after the 2015 season.