Who is the highest paid MLB player? Contracts in Major League Baseball, like every other professional sport, are rapidly increasing. A title that once belonged to Gerrit Cole is now owned by New York Mets aces Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer with Aaron Judge a close second.
While pitchers don’t play everyday day, they are incredibly valuable. Pitching is crucial for success in October and when teams have a shot at an ace who can win multiple games in a World Series, they’re willing to pay whatever it takes to land them.
Keep in mind, many of these clubs aren’t hurting for money. MLB revenue rose in 2021, continuing a trend of record numbers outside of the COVID-impacted 2020 season. With some franchise values higher than ever thanks to a new MLB CBA and new sources of revenue, there is plenty of money for teams to spend.
Related: Highest paid NFL players
What is the average MLB salary?
The average MLB salary in 2022 was $4.2 million, per Front Office Sports. It marks a 14.8% increase from the average salaries for MLB players compared to the 2021 season. More importantly, it’s the first time in four years that the average MLB salary increased.
A huge part of that is rising MLB salaries across the board, thanks to league revenue skyrocketing. It’s not just the top players cashing in, though, veterans and the proverbial journeymen are landing multi-year deals with more money.
Let’s examine the highest-paid MLB players in 2023 with numbers via Spotrac. Further below, we examine future contracts for Juan Soto and Shohei Ohtani, who will become two of the highest paid MLB players ever by 2024.
Highest paid MLB player: Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander
- Max Scherzer contract: 3 years, $130 million
- Max Scherzer salary: $43.33 million
- Max Scherzer career earnings: $183 million
New York Mets owner Steve Cohen wanted to make a splash in free agency and he did. By signing Max Scherzer to a three-year deal worth $130 million, Scherzer became the highest paid player in MLB history. He is also the first player with an average annual contract value of $40-plus million. A three-time Cy Young Award winner, the 37-year-old’s contract includes a full no-trade clause and includes a player opt-out after 2023. He’ll receive a $100,000 bonus each year he is named to the All-Star Game.
A year after making Scherzer one of the highest paid MLB players ever, Justin Verlander became one of the highest paid MLB players in 2023 with his new contract from the Mets.
Justin Verlander contract details
- Justin Verlander salary: $43.333 million AAV
- Justin Verlander contract: 2 years, $86.6 million
- 2025: $35 million vesting option
After winning the 2022 AL Cy Young Award, Verlander weighed offers from the Mets, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros. Ultimately, the future Hall of Famer lands with the Mets’ rotation. Every dollar in the first two years of his deal is guaranteed, so the Mets will be paying their top two pitchers a combined $86.666 million in 2023.
Highest paid position player in MLB 2023
Aaron Judge, outfielder, New York Yankees
- Aaron Judge contract: 9 years, $360 million
- Aaron Judge salary: $40 million AAV
Aaron Judge is the highest paid position player in MLB history. Judge signed a nine-year, $360 million contract with the New York Yankees, making baseball history in a variety of ways.
Judge becomes the first position player 30 years old or older to sign a $300 million contract and the first 30-plus years old to sign a deal with a contract length of nine years. Judge also becomes one of the highest paid MLB players ever, with a $40 million salary that ranks just behind Scherzer and Verlander.
The nine-year contract means Judge will make $40 million per season through age-39, allowing him to end his career with the Yankees. It’s also a massive change from what the Yankees had originally offered. New York first offered Judge $213.5 million over seven years in their proposal before Opening Day. Early in free agency, the Yankees offered $300 million over eight years. Now, Judge is one of the highest paid players in MLB both in contract length, total salary and AAV.
Anthony Rendon, third baseman, Los Angeles Angels
- Anthony Rendon contract: 7 years, $245 million
- Anthony Rendon salary 2023: $38.571 million
- Anthony Rendon career earnings: $127.244 million
Coming off a World Series title and an All-MLB First Team selection with the Washington Nationals, Anthony Rendon hit the market at the perfect time. The Angels, responsible for paying two of the highest paid MLB players, struck a deal with the All-Star third baseman. Rendon’s contract extends through 2026, his age-36 season, and includes a no-trade clause.
Rendon is the second highest-paid hitter in MLB right now, earning slightly more than teammate Mike Trout. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, Rendon only played in 47 games last season and has played in a combined 157 games since he signed with the Angels.
Mike Trout, outfielder, Los Angeles Angels
- Mike Trout contact: 12 years, $426.5 million
- Mike Trout salary: $37.116 million
- Mike Trout career earnings: $198 million
Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout hasn’t appeared in the MLB playoffs since 2014, his only postseason experience. While the franchise’s baseball moves always provide reasoning for him to leave, the three-time AL MVP and one of the best players in MLB history couldn’t pass on a historic contract. Signed to a 12-year deal worth $425 million signed one of the biggest contracts in sports history, Every single dollar of the $426.5 million is guaranteed and the deal doesn’t expire until 2031. Not bad for a player selected with the 25th pick in the 2009 MLB Draft.
Related: World Series odds 2023
Gerrit Cole, Trea Turner among highest paid players in MLB
It should come as no surprise that the New York Yankees are responsible for shelling out one of the largest MLB contracts. Until New York signed Scherzer, All-Star pitcher Gerrit Cole was the highest-paid player in baseball.
Gerrit Cole, starting pitcher, New York Yankees
- Gerrit Cole contract: 9 years, $324 million
- Gerrit Cole salary: $36 million
- Gerrit Cole career earnings: $120.222 million
When the Yankees signed Cole to a nine-year deal worth $324 million in December 2019, it marked the biggest contract ever signed by a pitcher. Furthermore, Cole’s $36 million salary surpassed Trout’s AAV. An All-MLB First Team selection in 2019 and 2021, Cole’s deal includes a full no-trade clause and includes a player option after 2024.
If he exercises the opt-out – $144 million over four seasons – the Yankees can extend a counter-proposal to include a $36 million salary in 2029, Cole’s age-38 season, which would bring the total value of the contract to $360 million.
Carlos Correa, shortstop, Minnesota Twins
- Carlos Correa contract: Six year, $200 million
- Carlos Correa salary: $33.33 million AAV
Carlos Correa initially became one of the highest-paid players in MLB for the 2023 season when he inked a 13-year, $350 million deal with the San Francisco Giants for an average annual salary of $26.92 million.
That deal fell through immediately ahead of the press conference to make it official when Correa failed his physical. There was a difference of opinion between the Giants’ front office and Correa’s camp, led by Scott Boras.
Correa then turned around and inked a 12-year, $315 million deal with the free-spending Mets. Soon after, New York’s doctors came away with the same concerns as the Giants’ medical staff. The deal never went through, allowing Correa to return to Minnesota on a six-year contract worth $200 million and the deal is now official.
Manny Machado, third baseman, San Diego Padres
- Manny Machado contract: 11 years, $350 million
- Manny Machado salary: $31.818 million AAV
After signing a 10-year, $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres in February 2019, All-Star third baseman Manny Machado landed a new contract on Feb. 26, 2023. Machado held a player opt-out following the 2023 season that would’ve allowed him to become one of the top free agents next winter. Instead, he worked out an extension with San Diego.
As first reported by Jeff Passan, Machado signed an 11-year contract extension worth $350 million. Turning 31 years old in July, the new contract will take Machado into his 40s and allow him to finish his career in San Diego.
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Machado’s contract includes a full no-trade clause, providing him with complete control over his future. Furthermore, there are no opt-outs in the 11-year deal meaning he will likely finish his career with the Padres.
Rafael Devers, third base, Boston Red Sox
- Rafael Devers contract: 11 years, $332 million
- Rafael Devers salary: $30.18 million
Boston finally did it. The team locked up one of its young stars after losing the likes of Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts over the past few seasons. Devers was slated to hit free agency following the 2023 season. After agreeing to avoid arbitration, he inked the largest contract in franchise history and is now the highest-paid third baseman in MLB history. Good for him.
Related: MLB All-Star Game 2023
Trea Turner, shortstop, Philadelphia Phillies
- Trea Turner contract: 11 years, $300 million
- Trea Turner salary: $27.272 million
While Trea Turner isn’t one of the highest paid players in MLB in terms of salary, he signed one of the largest contracts in MLB history. The All-star shortstop became just the 10th player to sign a $300 million contract, a list that includes one of his teammates. Similar to the Bryce Harper contract ($330 million), the Philadelphia Phillies added years to Turner’s deal to lower the base salary.
Carlos Rodon, starting pitcher, New York Yankees
- Carolos Rodon contract: 6 years, $162 million
- Carlos Rodon salary: $27 million
Rodon, 30, landed with the New York Yankees in free agency as the third-best starting pitcher available behind Justin Verlander and Jacob deGrom. He now joins a rotation headed by Gerrit Cole with the Yankees paying out a combined $846 million to those two and Aaron Judge. Over the course of the past two seasons, Rodon has pitched to a 27-13 record with a 2.67 ERA and 1.00 WHIP.
10 highest paid players in MLB 2023
- Max Scherzer, New York Mets – $43.333 million
- Justin Verlander, New York Mets – $43.333 million
- Aaron Judge, New York Yankees – $40 million
- Anthony Rendon, Los Angeles Angels – $38.571 million
- Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels – $37.116 million
- Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees – $36 million
- Corey Seager, Texas Rangers – $35.5 million
- Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals – $35 million
- Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals – $35 million
- Francisco Lindor, New York Mets – $34.1 million
Highest paid MLB players by position 2023
The breakdown of the highest paid players in MLB by position is based on average annual value (AAV) of their contracts.
Highest-paid catchers in MLB – AAV
- J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia Phillies – $23.1 million salary
- Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals – $20.5 million salary
- Yasmani Grandal, Chicago White Sox – $18.25 million salary
- Willson Contreras, St. Louis Cardinals – $18 million salary
- Sean Murphy, Atlanta Braves – $12.166 million salary
Highest-paid first basemen in MLB
- Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers – $27 million salary
- Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals – $26 million salary
- Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds – $22.5 million salary
- Matt Olson, Atlanta Braves – $21 million salary
- Anthony Rizzo, New York Yankees – $20 million salary
Highest-paid second baseman in MLB
- Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers – $25 million salary
- Jose Altuve, Houston Astros – $23.357 million salary
- Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks – $15.2 million salary
- Chris Taylor, Los Angeles Dodgers – $15 million salary
- Jeff McNeil, New York Mets – $12.5 million salary
Highest-paid shortstops in MLB
- Francisco Lindor, New York Mets – $34.1 million salary
- Carlos Correa, Minnesota Twins – $33.333 million salary
- Corey Seager, Texas Rangers – $32.5 million salary
- Trea Turner, Philadelphia Phillies – $27.272 million salary
- Xander Bogaerts, San Diego Padres – $25.454 million salary
Highest-paid third baseman in MLB
- Anthony Rendon, Los Angeles Angels – $35 million salary
- Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals – $32.5 million salary
- Manny Machado, San Diego Padres – $31.82 million salary
- Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox – $31.35 million salary
- Josh Donaldson, New York Yankees – $23 million salary
Highest-paid outfielders in MLB
- Aaron Judge, New York Yankees – $40 million salary
- Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels – $35.541 million salary
- Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers – $30.416 million salary
- Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers – $26.928 million salary
- Kris Bryant, Colorado Rockies – $26 million salary
- Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies – $25.384 million salary
- George Springer, Toronto Blue Jays – $25 million salary
- Juan Soto, San Diego Padres – $23 million salary
- Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets – $20.25 million salary
- Nick Castellanos, Philadelphia Phillies – $20 million salary
Highest-paid pitchers in 2023
- Max Scherzer, New York Mets – $43.333 million
- Justin Verlander, New York Mets – $43.333 million
- Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees – $36 million
- Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals – $35 million
- Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels – $30 million
- Jacob deGrom, Texas Rangers – $37 million
- Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox – $27.5 million
- Yu Darvish, San Diego Padres – $25 million
- Marcus Stroman, Chicago Cubs – $25 million
- Zack Wheeler, Philadelphia Phillies – $24.5 million
Highest-paid MLB players in 2022
Here’s an extended look at the 10 highest paid MLB players this season.
Jacob deGrom, pitcher, New York Mets
- Jacob deGrom contract: 5 years, $137.5 million
- Jacob deGrom salary: $36 million
The Mets signed their ace at the perfect time, agreeing to a $137.5 million extension in 2019 before salaries for pitchers skyrocketed even further. A two-time Cy Young Award recipient, deGrom will exercise an opt-out after the 2022 MLB season. Assuming he stays healthy, deGrom will likely be the highest paid MLB player a year from now.
Trevor Bauer, pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Trevor Bauer contract: 3 years, $102 million
- Trevor Bauer salary: $35.33 million
Trevor Bauer is currently under MLB investigation for assault allegations, though he isn’t facing criminal charges. If Bauer is suspended by Major League Baseball, he will forfeit the prorated portion of his salary as long as he is sidelined.
Related: If you’re a fan of the Dodgers, check out our rumors, rankings, and news here.
Stephen Strasburg, pitcher, Washington Nationals
- Stephen Strasburg contract: 7 years, $245 million
- Stephen Strasburg salary: $35 million
After a dominant postseason run in 2019 capped off with World Series MVP honors, the Washington Nationals locked down their No. 1 pick in the 2009 MLB Draft with a massive contract. Sadly, neck and arm injuries have limited him to 26.2 innings over the last two years.
Nolan Arenado, third base, St. Louis Cardinals
- Nolan Arenado contract: $8 years, $260 million
- Nolan Arenado salary: $35 million
Acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals from the Colorado Rockies, Arenado’s eight-year contract includes a player opt-out after the 2022 season. He would still be owed an additional $144 million through 2027, making it likely he remains with the club beyond this year.
Francisco Lindor, shortstop, New York Mets
- Francisco Lindor contract: 10 years, $341 million
- Francisco Lindor salary: $34.1 million
Acquired from the Cleveland Guardians before the 2021 season, New York made Francisco Lindor the highest-paid infielder in MLB with a $341 million contract. The deal includes a 15-team NTC through 2025 and then becomes a full NTC from 2026-’31. Lindor will receive $5 million annually in deferred money from 2032-’41.
Related: If you’re a fan of the Mets, check out #LGM rumors, rankings, and news here.
Corey Seager, shortstop, Texas Rangers
- Corey Seager contract: 10 years, $325 million
- Corey Seager salary: $33 million
The Texas Rangers wanted to make big moves during the 2021-’22 offseason and they did just that, making Seager one of the highest paid MLB players this year. He receives a $33 million salary in 2022 and will make $35.5 million in 2023. The annual salary will dip below $33 million after the 2024 season.
Highest paid closer in baseball
Edwin Díaz is the highest-paid closer in MLB history, signed to a five-year contract worth $102 million. Diaz will make $20.4 million per year. He also signed the largest contract ever for a closer, becoming the first reliever to receive a $100 million contract.
Highest paid closers
- Edwin Diaz, New York Mets – $20.4M AAV, $102 million total
- Liam Hendriks, Chicago White Sox – $18M AAV, $54 million total
- Ryan Pressly, Houston Astros – $15M AAV, $30 million total
Who is the highest paid MLB player ever?
It should come as no surprise that Alex Rodriguez is atop the list for MLB career earnings. According to Spotrac, the baseball legend earned $455.159 million across his entire career. Incredibly, even after stepping away after the 2016 season, he still earned an additional $39 million from the Yankees and Rangers through 2020.
MLB leaders in career earnings
After signing a one-year, $2.5 million contract to finish his Hall of Fame career with the St. Louis Cardinals, Albert Pujols gains even more separation from Miguel Cabrera for the active record of the highest paid MLB player ever.
However, Cabrera will pass him in 2023 because he is still under contract for a $32 million salary in each of the next two seasons. By the end of his MLB career, Cabrera will have earned nearly $400 million in total salary.
- Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals: $339.21 million
- Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers: $321 million
- Justin Verlander, Houston Astros: $274.588 million
- Zack Greinke, Kansas City Royals: $252 million
- Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers: $251.34 million
Julio Rodriguez contract, potential earnings among highest paid MLB players
The Seattle Mariners signed rookie outfielder Julio Rodriguez to what might become one of the most unique contracts in MLB history. On the surface, it’s an eight-year deal worth $120 million and guarantees him $210 million. If it reaches maximum value, the $470 million figure will make Rodriguez one of the highest paid MLB players ever.
According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the new contract pays out $120 million through the 2029 season. After that, Seattle holds a club option with an undetermined salary that will be based on his performance in AL MVP voting each year.
The club option can either be for eight years or 10 years on top of the base value of the contract with the figures on a range determined on yearly MVP results. If Rodriguez doesn’t live up to his potential, it can be as low as the $200 million range. However, the All-Star outfielder becoming a perennial MVP candidate would push it toward $350 million and he would be guaranteed $320 million total if the option is exercised.
If Seattle fails to exercise the option after 2027, Rodriguez holds a player option after the eighth season for a five-year and $90 million add-on. If he takes that route, it will put into effect the 13-year, $210 million deal that was first reported.
Rodriguez won’t be one of the highest paid players in MLB in 2023 or 2024. However, the maximum value of the contract will allow him to become one of the highest paid MLB players ever if he lives up to his potential.
Shohei Ohtani contract and 2023 salary
The Los Angeles Angels made history with the Shohei Ohtani contract. Before he came arbitration-eligible for the final time, Los Angeles signed their two-way sensation to the largest arbitration contract ever and the largest year-to-year salary increase in MLB history. After making $5.5 million in 2022, Ohtani will receive $30 million fully guaranteed during the 2023 MLB season.
It will be the final season of his contract before he becomes the No. 1 MLB free agent in 2024. Once he hits the open market, expect Ohtani to become the highest paid MLB player ever. At a minimum, he will likely pull in an AAV of $50 million per season. He is one of the best pitchers in baseball and a threat to hit 35-plus home runs with a .900-plus OPS. Combine that with his marketability and there will be multiple teams willing to offer a multi-year contract worth at least $50 million per season.
Shohei Ohtani, Juan Soto will become highest paid MLB players in years ahead
Speaking of stars set to join the ranks of the highest paid MLB players in the coming years, look no further than Shohei Ohtani. The two-way phenom will be the top MLB free agent in 2024 and is expected to receive offers worth at least $50 million per season, giving him the chance to sign the first $500 million contract.
As for Juan Soto, joining a playoff contender like the San Diego Padres probably isn’t enough to keep him out of MLB free agency in 2025. He’ll only be 26 years old and his production through his first four seasons puts him in historic company. Barring a career-altering injury or unexpected regression, Soto will sign the first $500 million contract to become one of the highest paid players in MLB.