Our list of the the highest salary on each MLB team contains a few surprises, to be sure. A couple of players of America's pastime aren’t being paid what the market dictates they ought to be, and just as many are...well, happy they’re getting paid what they are (Not to name names here, but Mark Teixeira).
As Forbes indicates, NBA players earn an average of $5.15 million, MLB players earn $3.2 million on average, NHL players make $2.4 million, and the average NFL salary is $1.9 million per year.
So, while the MLB’s best may grumble that they’re underpaid and that their season is about 1,000 games long, they can take solace in the fact that they’re getting paid in excess of more than 1/3 more than the guys who carry, fling, protect, or pursue pigskins for a living. Further, they don't make their bones while getting their brains pounded into hamburger meat.
Is your favorite player earning the biggest bucks on his team in 2014? Who’s getting more dough doled in their direction than they should, and who is the highest-paid player in the American League? (Spoiler: we have a tie).
Read on for the answers to these questions and many more. Sadly, why Toronto is paying Mark Buehrle nearly $20 million in 2014 is not among them.
3 AL East
Boston Red Sox: Mike Napoli, First Baseman: $16 million
The owner of one of the most truly epic beards on the 2013 Boston Red Sox World Series winning team, Mike Napoli recently signed a two-year, $32 million contract to keep his talents in Beantown. After the expiration of his one-year contract, Napoli rejected a tender offer before agreeing to the aforementioned terms.
Hip issues raised questions about how durable the Hollywood, Florida native would be in his maiden voyage in Boston. However, Nap batted .259 and whacked 23 homers in 2013, while playing in 139 games. Further, he was a clutch performer in the playoffs and a superb partier following their conclusion.
Tampa Bay Rays: David Price, Starting Pitcher: $14 million
Beating out the likes of Heath Bell, Evan Longoria, and Ben Zobrist, starting pitcher David Price is the Tampa Bay Rays' highest-paid player in 2014. Further, the 28-year-old left-hander is the highest-paid player in Rays history. Hopefully, Joe Maddon won't let that fact go to his head.
In order to avoid salary arbitration with Price, whose contract term ended in 2013, the Rays offered him a one-year $14 million deal, which (as you can see) he took. The Vanderbilt alum was a key part of the Rays’ postseason run, following a 2013 regular season when he was 10-8 with a 3.33 ERA.
Baltimore Orioles: Nick Markakis, Right Fielder: $15.35 million
30-year-old outfielder Nick Markakis is in the midst of a six-year, $66 million contract that will pay him a total of $15.35 million in 2014. Markakis batted a career-low .271 in 2013, a marked decline from the .306 he hit in 2008, which netted him the aforementioned six-year deal.
New York Yankees: Mark Teixeira, First Baseman: $23.12 million
Mark Teixeira signed an enormous eight-year, $180 million deal with the Evil Empire in 2008. The slugger landed on the DL with a wrist injury in 2013 and was afflicted with a range of issues and ailments in 2012, including a debilitating cough, which sounds fake but wasn't. Teixeira hit just .251 for the year.
Since joining the Yankees, the former Texas Ranger's averages have been some of the worst of his career, although his power numbers have been consistent with his play at his previous club.
Toronto Blue Jays: Mark Buehrle, Starting Pitcher: $19 million
2 AL Central
Cleveland Indians: Nick Swisher, First Baseman: $15 million
After declining a one-year qualifying offer from the New York Yankees, Columbus, Ohio native Nick Swisher signed with the Cleveland Indians in 2013. In 2014, the 33-year-old is due a base salary of $15 million.
Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera, Third Baseman: $22 million
Miguel Cabrera will earn a base salary of $22 million in 2014 in the penultimate season of his eight-year, $152.3 million contract with the Detroit Tigers. The native of Venezuela batted .348 in 2013 with 44 home runs and 137 RBIs. Widely regarded as one of the best players in baseball, Cabrera notched his second-consecutive MVP Award in 2013. In other words, considering that his 2014 salary isn’t among the league's 10 largest, the Tigers’ front office has to be happy.
Kansas City Royals: James Shields, Starting Pitcher: $13.5 million
32-year-old James Shields is due to receive $13.5 million from the Kansas City Royals in 2014 after the club exercised their option on the player at the end of 2013. Shields went 13-9 in 2013 with a 3.15 ERA. The career 100-82 pitcher recorded 196 strikeouts in 228 innings pitched in 2013.
Minnesota Twins: Joe Mauer, Catcher/First Baseman: $23 million
The only catcher to win three batting titles in MLB history, Joe Mauer certainly knows what he’s doing at the plate. He also knows what he’s doing behind it: Mauer won three consecutive Gold Gloves from 2008-2010.
The Twins signed the Minnesota native to an eight-year, $184 million deal in 2011 that will keep the .323 career hitter with the team until he’s 34. It seems he should be able to play until that age: Mauer will move to first base next season.
Chicago White Sox: John Danks, Starting Pitcher: $15.75 million
1 AL West
Oakland Athletics: Yoenis Cespedes, Left Fielder: $10.5 million
The 28-year-old Cuban standout was courted by several MLB teams after defecting from that country in 2011. Eventually, the Oakland Athletics inked the ball player to a four-year, $36 million contract. Cespedes, the 2013 Home Run Derby champ. is due to earn $10.5 million in 2014.
Texas Rangers: Prince Fielder, First Baseman: $24 million
After an uninspired postseason in 2013, the Detroit Tigers traded the 29-year-old slugger to the Texas Rangers. The $24 million Prince Fielder is slated to earn in 2014 makes him the highest-earning player in the American League. If that isn’t mind-blowing enough, consider this: Fielder is in the midst of a nine-year, $214 million contract.
Los Angeles Angels: Albert Pujols, First Baseman: $23 million
Albert Pujols is in the midst of a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels. He’s slated to earn $23 million in 2014, which is nothing compared to the $30 million he’s scheduled to earn in 2021, when he’s...41 years old. Pujols had the worst year of his career at the plate in 2013, batting just .258, well below his career .321 average.
Seattle Mariners: Robinson Cano, Second Baseman: $24 million
The five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner left the New York Yankees in 2013 at the expiration of his contract and tested the waters of free agency, signing a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Seattle Mariners. His 2014 salary ($24 million) is a $9 milllion bump from the mark he was earning in 2013 ($15 million). In other words, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation is doing its job.
Houston Astros: Scott Feldman, Starting Pitcher: $12 million
Scott Feldman is owed $12 million by the Houston Astros for his services in 2014. The Astros, who are (theoretically) in the process of rebuilding, acquired Feldman from the Baltimore Orioles. In 2013, the 30-year-old was 12-12 with a 3.86 ERA. Great stats? No. But remember: The winningest pitcher on the 'stros in 2013, Jordan Lyles, notched seven victories.