MLB’s Highest-Paid Players Are Not Its Best

    • The highest-paid players in MLB are not always its best, and that fact is made clear by the most recent list of the sport's top earners.
    • MVP candidates like Shohei Ohtani and Vlad Guerrero Jr. are making very little in comparison.

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The MLB leaderboards are filled with dynamic superstars, but you won’t find many of them on the list of highest-paid players.

The top earner, per Forbes’ list unveiled on Thursday, is the New York Mets’ Francisco Lindor, who is making $45.3 million, including a $21 million signing bonus, in the first year of his 10-year, $341 million contract extension.

Otherwise, the top 10 is littered with injured pitchers like Justin Verlander ($34.2 million), Stephen Strasburg ($34.1 million), and Clayton Kershaw ($33 million), plus David Price ($32.5 million), who is in a reduced role this year.

The top two pitchers, Trevor Bauer ($39 million) and Gerrit Cole ($36.5 million) are currently the players most identified with the crackdown on pitchers using “sticky stuff” to improve their grips. 

Both have seen their results fall off since MLB began enforcing that rule. Bauer is also on administrative leave following allegations of domestic violence.

Many superstars are not included because MLB players make the league minimum for their first three years, then have their contracts determined through arbitration for the next three.

  • Shohei Ohtani, who is leading the league with 32 home runs while also holding a 3.49 ERA as a pitcher, is making $3 million this season.
  • Vladimir Guerrero Jr., second in home runs with 28 and first in batting average with .341, is making $605,400 on a league-minimum contract.

Bryce Harper ($5 million) and Mike Trout ($3 million) are the only two players making more than $2 million off endorsements. For comparison, LeBron James made $65 million off the court over the last year.