Baseball players make a huge amount of money, these days. That wasn’t always the case. In the 1950s players on the back end of the roster often had to have offseason jobs. In 1980, Nolan Ryan became the first player to make $1 million a season and the numbers have only gone up from there.
The players who really rake in the big bucks today are the ones who get to free agency early and sign mega-deals. Check out the net worths of these guys, some of whom have made so much they’re talking about getting into ownership.
CC Sabathia – $80 Million
Players tend to strike it rich by being in the right place at the right time, but also by taking advantage of every opportunity. CC Sabathia did this by becoming unhittable for the Indians and Brewers during his 2008 walk year.
He then signed a massive $161 million with the Yankees. The good times continued and CC made it to a second multi-million dollar contract in New York. The bright and charitable lefty finished his career with plenty left in the bank.
Carlos Beltran – $80 Million
Carlos Beltran was another player who struck it rich in New York. The five-tool outfielder spent the beginning of his career in Kansas City before blowing up for the Houston Astros during the 2004 playoffs.
Beltran then signed a monster deal with the Mets. After that contract ended, he remained an upper-level player for the Astros, Cardinals, and Yankees. The star outfielder was all set to be the manager for the 2020 Mets, but he resigned the post after being caught up in the Astros’ sign-stealing controversy.
Barry Bonds – $80 Million
For most fans living today, Barry Bonds is the single greatest baseball player they’ve ever seen. He’s the single-season home run leader, the all-time home run leader and won an incredible seven MVP awards.
Bonds’ career, however, will forever be connected to steroid accusations. These connections to PEDs are widely accepted as truth for many fans. Despite the controversy, though, the star left fielder has stayed connected to the game. In recent years, Bonds served as the hitting coach for the Miami Marlins.
Ken Griffey Jr. $85 Million
Were you a kid growing up in the late ’80s or early ’90s who loved baseball? Then it’s likely that a 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card in mint condition was your fondest desire.
Not only was the center fielder the best player in the game, but he also exuded cool. Injuries kept Griffey Jr. from smashing every record in baseball, but he still had an absolutely incredible career. Griffey was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016.
David Price – $85 Million
When you look at a list of the highest net worth players, you’ll see a lot of guys who were drafted very early. There’s a reason for that, first-round draft picks start making big money even while they are in the minor leagues.
David Price was the first overall selection by the Tampa Bay Rays and signed a major league deal. Since then, he’s pitched for the Blue Jays and Tigers before signing a huge deal with the Boston Red Sox. Price was traded to the Dodgers during the 2020 offseason.
Mariano Rivera – $90 Million
Mariano Rivera was a closer for the Yankees. Relief pitchers tend to be undervalued and make less money than starting pitchers or full-time position players. What made Rivera different, though, was that he played for a very long time and was the very best.
Rivera’s career ran from 1995 through 2013. During that time he made 13 All-Star game appearances and won five World Series titles. Rivera was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019, his first year of eligibility.
Gary Sheffield – $90 Million
Longevity can be the key to making a lot of money in Major League Baseball. Salaries weren’t too huge when Gary Sheffield began his career in 1988, but they continually rose and were quite large by the time he retired in 2009.
21 years of being a star certainly paid off. Sheffield played for the Brewers, Padres, Marlins, Dodgers, Mets, Yankees, Braves and Tigers over the course of a career that saw his hit 509 home runs. He now works as a sports agent.
Felix Hernandez – $90 Million
Felix Hernandez made his debut with the Seattle Mariners in 2005 when he was only 19 years of age. Very quickly King Felix became a cult hero in the city as he sustained excellence for the normally underachieving team.
The right-handed hurler made the All-Star team 6 times, threw a perfect game in 2012 and won the American League Cy Young Award in 2010. 2020 will take some adjustment for baseball fans as Hernandez will pitch for the Atlanta Braves rather than the Mariners.
Justin Verlander – $95 Million
The vast majority of the players on this list have come to the end of their careers. Not only has Astros pitcher Justin Verlander made plenty of money already, but he is also seemingly is only getting better.
The hurler won the American League Cy Young Award in 2019, the second time he has taken the award home. Verlander has also made eight All-Star teams. A free agent in 2022, Verlander is set to make $66 million over the next two seasons.
Joe Mauer – $100 Million
When he was still in High School, Joe Mauer had to decide whether to sign with the Minnesota Twins or play quarterback for the Florida State Seminoles. It looks like the catcher from Saint Paul, Minnesota made the right decision.
Mauer, who retired from the game in 2018, stands as one of the greatest Twins of all time. He made the All-Star team six times and won the 2009 AL MVP Award. The Twins retired his number in 2019.
Manny Ramirez – $110 Million
Manny Ramirez first appeared for the Cleveland Indians in 1993 and spent the next 18 seasons slugging baseballs. The Dominican superstar really hit his stride once he signed with Boston and help the Red Sox win the World Series twice.
In addition to the Red Sox and Indians, Ramirez also played with the LA Dodgers, the Chicago White Sox, and the Tampa Bay Rays. Manny made a total of nine All-Star teams and won the World Series MVP in 2004.
Joey Votto – $110 Million
There have been a lot of great players who hailed from Canada, but Reds’ first baseman Joey Votto may very well be the best. Votto grew up in Toronto, Ontario the son of a chef father and a sommelier mother.
The six-time All-Star is renowned for his brilliant batting eye and smooth line-drive stroke. He became a true franchise player for Cincinnati when signed a 10 year $225 million contract to remain a Red for life in 2016.
Chipper Jones – $110 Million
Very few superstars get to begin and finish their careers with one team. Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones was one of the lucky few. Jones retired from the Braves in 1993 after a 19-year career.
There were plenty of accolades for the third baseman. Jones made 8 All-Star appearances, won the 1999 National League MVP Award and won a World Series with the Braves in 1995. Chipper was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018.
Randy Johnson $115 Million
For the majority of the ’90s and the early part of the 2000’s, there were few batters that could do anything against Randy Johnson. The lefty not only threw nearly 100 mph, but his 6-10 frame also made the ball seemingly get to the plate even faster.
It took a while for Johnson to harness his electric stuff, but once he did, he blew through the league winning the Cy Young Award five different times. The dominant starter was inducted into the Hall in 2015.
Miguel Cabrera – $125 Million
It didn’t take long for Miguel Cabrera to establish himself as a superstar. He made his debut at 20-years-old, helping the Florida Marlins win the World Series. By the time he was 21, Cabrera was one of the best hitters in the entire league.
The fantastic hitting has continued and in 2012, Cabrera became the first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. The third baseman/first baseman made 11 MLB All-Star games and is a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame.
Albert Pujols – $170 Million
Albert Pujols was never supposed the be the best player in baseball. The slugger was selected out of Maple Woods Community College with the 402nd pick of the 1999 draft. Teams were scared off because he was an older college player.
The slugger ripped through the National League and made it to the league by 2001. He has dominated the sport for the Cardinals and Angels, hitting 656 home runs, winning the MVP Award three times and making a total of 10 All-Star games.
Ichiro – $180 Million
Ichiro Suzuki’s 19-year career in the Major Leagues was remarkable for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most incredible reason is that he didn’t make his MLB debut until 2001 at the age of 27.
And in that first season, he won the league’s MVP Award. And he continued slugging the ball throughout his career. Ichiro made 10 All-Star teams and won 10 Gold Glove awards. In addition, he still managed to top 3,000 hits despite the late start.
Derek Jeter – $185 Million
Derek Jeter was another one of those fortunate players who only played for one team for their entire career. And what a career it was. Jeter spent plenty of time in the playoffs and won five World Series rings.
The shortstop also notched an astonishing total of 3,465 hits. Jeter made 14 All-Star games throughout his career to go along with five Gold Glove Awards and five Silver Sluggers. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2020.
Ryan Howard – $140 Million
There used to be an old ESPN commercial about chicks digging the long ball. Major League Baseball General Managers love the long ball too, and Phillies GM Ruben Amaro had an easy time falling in love with slugger Ryan Howard.
Despite not making his debut until the age of 24 years old, the first baseman quickly began smacking home runs at a record pace. Howard won the National League MVP Award in 2006 and hit 382 dingers in his 13 seasons.
Alex Rodriguez – $350 Million
When it comes to a player maxing out their earning potential, Alex Rodriguez pretty much had everything going for him. He began his career very young, hit free agency a couple of times, and cashed in as a result.
In the year 2000, A-Rod signed a then unprecedented $252 million contract. He later opted out of that deal and signed a new $275 million deal. The 14-time All-Star now works for ESPN and it’s rumored that he could try to get into ownership with his vast fortune.