The Five Largest MLB Salaries in 2023

mlb salaries

Last Updated on August 29, 2023 by Matt Musico

It is no secret that the earning potential for top-tier athletes is off the charts and that Major League Baseball (MLB) franchises are willing to break the bank to secure the services of star players. Elite MLB players walk away with tens of millions in their annual salaries and millions more from lucrative sponsorship and endorsement deals.

Honus Wagner had planned to retire in 1908 until the Pittsburgh Pirates offered him $10,000 per year when the average American’s income was only $807. The legendary Babe Ruth was MLB’s first $50,000 player in 1922, and Hank Greenberg was the first to earn $100,000 annually in 1947. Nolan Ryan’s deal with the Houston Astros in 1979 saw him become MLB’s first $1 million player. Although those sums are impressive, they pale into insignificance when you look at what today’s top earners pocket each year.

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Max Scherzer – Texas Rangers – $43,333,333

On December 1, 2021, Max Scherzer put pen to paper on a three-year, $130 million contract with the New York Mets, giving him an average salary of $43,333,333, the largest average annual value in MLB history. Mets fans flocked to the best MLB betting sites with renewed confidence in their team, and that confidence seemed just as the Mets went 101-61 (.623) to finish second in the National League East. However, as is often the case with the Mets, they faltered in the playoffs, losing 2-1 to the San Diego Padres in the National League Wild Card Series.

Scherzer only lasted one-and-a-half seasons with the Mets before the Texas Rangers acquired him, along with $35.5 million in cash considerations, for Luisangel Acuña. Scherzer opted into his 2024 player option, also worth more than $43 million.

Justin Verlander – Houston Astros – $43,333,333

At the end of the 2022 MLB season, the New York Mets signed Justin Verlander to a two-year $86.7 million deal with a $43,333,333 million average annual value, only a year after awarding Scherzer a similar AAV. A low-grade teres major strain delayed Verlander’s Mets debut, but he finally made it in May against the Detroit Tigers, one of his former teams. A week later, Verlander was instrumental in a 2-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, with the triumph seeing Verlander become only the 21st pitcher in MLB history to defeat all 30 teams.

Verlander returned to the Houston Astros on August 1, 2023, in a trade involving cash considerations and two outfield prospects, Ryan Clifford and Drew Gilbert. The 40-year-old is among the highest-earning MLB players of all time, with his career earnings at $317,515,000 at the end of the 2022 season.

mlb salaries
Photo credit: apardavila on Flickr

Aaron Judge – New York Yankees – $40,000,000

It should be no surprise to baseball fans to see Aaron Judge’s name on the list of top MLB earners. Judge has been with the New York Yankees since they drafted him 32nd overall in 2013, and the Yankees have paid the 6ft 7in, 282-pound man handsomely ever since.

Despite Judge’s incredible record with the bat, he became a free agent after the conclusion of the 2022 season. The San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants wanted to add Judge to their roster. Judge’s agent claimed the Giants offered his client a $360 million deal, about $40 million more than the Yankees’ offer. The Yankees returned with a nine-year $360 million contract, which Judge accepted. That deal broke the record for the largest free-agent deal in MLB history.

Judge is a phenomenal talent who has broken several MLB batting records, particularly in the home runs category. In 2017, he hit 52 home runs and broke Mark McGwire’s rookie record. In 2022, Judge hit 62 homers, breaking Roger Maris’ (61) record, which he set in 1961.

Anthony Rendon – Los Angeles Angels – $38,571,428

The Washington Nationals selected Anthony Rendon as the sixth overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. He made his Nationals debut in 2013 and spent the next six years with the Washington franchise before the Los Angeles Angels came calling.

The Angeles offered Rendon a seven-year $245 million contract, which he accepted. The structure of his mega-money deal means Rendon will earn a salary of $38,571,428 in 2023, the fourth-largest sum in MLB.

Rendon was involved in some controversy in April 2023 when video footage showed him grabbing an Oakland Athletics fan by his shirt before unleashing a tirade of profanities at the fan and then attempting to slap him. Rendon claimed the fan was continually heckling him, which the fan denied. MLB officials suspended Rendon for four games and issued an undisclosed fine.

Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels – $37,166,666

Mike Trout is undoubtedly one of the greatest players in MLB history. Since making his debut for the Los Angeles Angels in 2011, Trout has become a legend. He is an 11-time All-Star, three-time American League MVP, and a nine-time winner of the Silver Slugger Award.

Players like Trout do not come around often, which is why the Angels have always been determined to keep their star tied down to a long-term deal. On March 20, 2019, Trout agreed to what turned out to be the richest contract in North American sports history, a 12-year $426.5 million contract, for an AAV of $37,166,666. Trout’s contract record lasted 15 months until Patrick Mahomes signed a 10-year $503 million deal with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs.

On April 15, 2023, Trout hit his 300th career double against the Boston Red Sox. He joined Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, and Alex Rodriguez as the only MLB players to collect at least 300 home runs, 300 doubles, and 200 stolen bases by their age-31 season. It seems $426 million buys you one hell of a baseball player.

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