Since the end of March, the 2014 Major League Baseball season has been in full swing! Now that we’ve made it a handful of weeks into the the season, let’s take a look at the highest paid first basemen in the league right now. This list doesn’t necessarily include players who are on a roster with first base listed as their sole position and allows for dual position players and designated hitters that are also on their roster as a first base position player. All salaries listed are specifically for 2014 and do not necessarily reflect the full contract amount or what the player may have made or will make in other years.
10. Joey Votto – $12 million
The Cincinnati Reds recently signed Joey Votto of Toronto, Canada to a ten year contract with a total guaranteed pay-out of $225 million when all is said and done. Over the course of these ten years Votto will receive an average annual salary of $22.5 million, but for 2014 will only be seeing the first $12 million. At the end of his contract in 2024 Votto will have achieved his free agent status. Votto has a career batting average of .312 and has hit his first five home-runs of the 2014 season off of left-handed pitchers.
After suffering a knee injury in 2012, some have argued that Votto has yet to get back into top shape. Hopefully for the Reds Votto can get back in shape early on in his ten year contract.
9. Nick Swisher – $15 million
The Columbus, Ohio born Nick Swisher has enjoyed a ten-year career with the Oakland Athletics, Chicago White Sox, and New York Yankees before signing a four-year contract at $56 million with the Cleveland Indians before the 2013 season.
By the end of the 2013 season, Swisher has averaged 23 home-runs a season since his major league debut in 2004 and holds a career batting average of .253. These numbers aren’t terrible by any means but it remains to be seen if Swisher will pay off for the Indians as one of the top ten highest paid first basemen in the league.
8. Mike Napoli – $16 million
Mike Napoli saw a World Series win with the Boston Red Sox last year and it looks as if Boston isn’t looking to change much. They’ve signed Mike Napoli to a two-year deal at $32 million before he achieves status as a free agent in 2016.
Napoli has had a minor set-back this season with a dislocated left ring finger. Fortunately it hasn’t proven to be too much of a burden on his hitting so long as he tapes it up. It is hoped after a few days without use of the hand should bring everything back to normal.
7. Adrian Gonzalez – $21,857,142
Gonzalez has a semi-impressive .293 career batting average and is currently in a seven year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers at $154 million that included a signing bonus of $6 million.
Los Angeles really seemed to want a World Series in the near future when they acquired four-time All-Star Gonzalez as part of a trade. The contract was originally signed by Gonzalez as a deal with the Boston Red Sox. The Dodgers took Gonzalez with $127 million left on his contract after he only put in roughly a season-and-a-half with the Red Sox. A shame for Gonzalez as he missed a World Series win with Boston the following season.
6. Miguel Cabrera – $22 million
Cabrera is a highly decorated player who has definitely played a huge role in taking the Tigers from a complete joke of a franchise to a team that now gets plenty of buzz in the sports pages, sports radio, and on the veritable plethora of cable sports channels. Not only is Cabrera an excellent position player but he boasts a career batting average of a solid .320 with 370 home-runs over his eleven years in the game. Very few could make an argument (though many try) that Cabrera has not earned his contract that was extended to $248 million from $152.3 million over eight years.
5. Albert Pujols – $23 million
When Pujols signed his salary he was coming off the Cardinals as one of the better players in the league. At the time his salary of $240 million over ten years was one of the biggest in the league but it has since become a norm for the right player.
Some have said that Pujols isn’t worth this monster salary, specifically to a team like the Angels. This is mainly due to the fact that he is just one bright spot in a team that isn’t considered a World Series favorite. Regardless, as an individual player he puts up fantastic numbers and might prove to be a nice trade option to a team with a stronger roster.
Pujols has maintained a career batting average of .32o with an impressive average of 38 home-runs per season over his thirteen year a career.
4. Joe Mauer – $23 million
It’s surprising Mauer is making more than players like Cabrera this year and rivaling the salary of a player like Pujols. Especially from the Minnesota Twins. The Twins haven’t been a terrible team in recent years by any means but it’s an impressive salary to come out of this franchise. This might have initially had more to do with Mauer’s ability as a catcher but he has since been moved to first base in an attempt to get his .322 batting average in more games. As baseball fans know, the catcher’s position requires a player to take time off and can often make them more susceptible to injury.
Mauer isn’t exactly a home-run hitter but he will get on base, which can be equally as important.
3. Mark Teixeira – $23,125,000
Mark Teixeira has been a great asset for the New York Yankees and has definitely earned his spot in the Yankee’s legacy as a baseball dynasty. Teixeira is an excellent first baseman, he’s very loyal to the Yankees, he keeps his nose clean as a player, and is an excellent role model for young athletes.
While Teixeira may not have hit .300 as a career batting average, he has averaged an impressive 31 home-runs a year and most of those home-runs count. He’s brought home over 1100 runners in 11 years.
2. Prince Fielder – $24 million
Prince Fielder is a part of a burgeoning legacy of power-hitters, starting with his father Cecil Fielder that could very well be passed on down to Prince’s own sons. Cecil and Prince are the only father son players to have ever hit fifty home-runs in one season. There is no denying Prince’s bat and that alone could be worth it to just about any team in the Major League.
Despite a so-so season with the Detroit Tigers in 2013, the Texas Rangers have decided to scoop up Fielder for a $214 million contract over the next nine years. Texas is a solid team with the money to spend. After only nine years in the Major League, Fielder is still young and could prove to be worth every dollar.
1. Ryan Howard – $25 million
When Howard first received this contract extension ($125 million over five years) with the Philadelphia Phillies, Phillies fans rejoiced but less biased individuals regarded it as a very bad move. By baseball standards, Howard is no spring chicken. Generally a player begins to slow down by his mid-thirties so many regarded it as too much money over too many years. It’s been pointed out by many other sports writers that if Howard is worth $25 million a year, players on this list like Pujols and Cabrera are easily worth twice that much.
The Phillies definitely have the money to make moves like this but in recent years they haven’t been the team they once were. This move has even been dubbed “the third worst contract in baseball” by Jonah Keri of Grantland.