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Every MLB player making over $100,000 per game this year

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Mike Stobe // Getty Images

Every MLB player making over $100,000 per game this year

When Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray announced that he would pursue a professional career in the National Football League over Major League Baseball, many experts questioned his decision because of the finances at play. Murray, who was selected first overall in April's NFL draft, is expected to do OK for himself. 

Detractors pointed to the shorter careers of professional football players, as well as the higher risk for injury on the gridiron, deducing that Murray's better move was sticking to baseball. Murray had already signed an agreement with the Oakland Athletics that would pay him about $4.6 million out of the gate, with plenty of opportunity for further riches if he fulfilled his potential on the diamond.

Although Murray decided to put his baseball career on hold, the game's top stars have been well-rewarded for their output. Baseball often brings the richest contracts of any American professional sport, and according to Spotrac, there are now 60 players making over $100,000 per game this season in base salary (that totals to at least $16.2 million). Using data updated as recently as May 13, 2019, Stacker ranked these players by the value of their salary, including the likes of obvious candidates like Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer, as well as emerging young stars like Oakland Athletics slugger Khris Davis, and of course Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout.

While more debate has raged in recent years over baseball's arbitration rules, which essentially lock players into the team that drafted them for at least six years, it seems to pay to be patient as a major leaguer. In 2014, only 32 players made over $100,000 per game. Click through to see which of your favorite ballplayers are among the highest paid in the sport, what got them there, and how these financial numbers might play into your favorite team's future plans.

You may also like: Best pitching staffs in the MLB since 1980

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Azael Rodgriguez // Getty Images

#58. Dexter Fowler (tie)

- Position: center field
- Salary: $16,500,000
- Salary per game: $101,852

When the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series ending a 108-year drought, many players on the championship team took on mythical status. Dexter Fowler turned his career year into a five-year, $82.5 million payday. Previously known as a speedster and defensive dynamo, Fowler—who made his only All-Star team in 2016—cashed in with the Cubs' rival, the St. Louis Cardinals, in 2017.

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Ed Zurga // Getty Images

#58. Ian Kennedy (tie)

- Position: relief pitcher
- Salary: $16,500,000
- Salary per game: $101,852

Ian Kennedy has never been an All-Star, but has always been recognized for his vast potential. Even in his 30s, when he became a free agent before the 2016 season, the Kansas City Royals bet big that he could replicate his 2011 breakout when Kennedy won 21 games. Entering this year, Kennedy was 19-33 in Kansas City, with a contract for five years, $70 million.

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Justin Berl // Getty Images

#58. Khris Davis (tie)

- Position: designated hitter
- Salary: $16,500,000
- Salary per game: $101,852

Thanks to MLB's murky arbitration system, some teams have offered contract extensions earlier in a player's career to prevent them from moving on for a big free agent contract once eligible. The Oakland Athletics did such with slugger Khris Davis, inking him to three-year, $50 million deal before this season, which keeps him with the team through 2021 (Davis could have left after this season).

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Will Newton // Getty Images

#56. J.A. Happ (tie)

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $17,000,000
- Salary per game: $104,938

In 2018, J.A. Happ was acquired by the New York Yankees from Toronto during the season and produced wonderfully for the Bronx Bombers. Happ went 7-0 in New York City, helping the Yankees make the playoffs and likely contributing to the decision to sign him for two more years at a price tag of $34 million. Even though he turned 36 last October, Happ has been a late bloomer and quite dependable, despite lacking the blazing fastball most teams seek when doling out contracts like his.

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Kevork Djansezian // Getty Images

#56. Nathan Eovaldi (tie)

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $17,000,000
- Salary per game: $104,938

Nathan Eovaldi has always been known for an obscene fastball, but injuries have derailed his career. Last season, the Boston Red Sox traded for him on their way to a World Series title. Eovaldi more than proved his worth after his return from Tommy John surgery, particularly in the postseason where he notched a 1.61 earned run average.

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Sarah Stier // Getty Images

#53. Aroldis Chapman (tie)

- Position: relief pitcher
- Salary: $17,200,000
- Salary per game: $106,173

Recognized as one of the game's hardest throwers (including a fastball registered at 106 mph), Aroldis Chapman has been a dominant closer for much of his career. In 2016, he was traded by the New York Yankees to the Chicago Cubs, and after winning a World Series ring, he returned to the Bronx as a free agent that offseason. He was briefly suspended in 2016 for domestic violence.

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Mark Brown // Getty Images

#53. Corey Kluber (tie)

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $17,200,000
- Salary per game: $106,173

Nicknamed “Klubot” (because of his efficiency and lack of emotion on the field), Corey Kluber is a two-time Cy Young Award winner. With a repertoire mixing a cutter, sinker, and slider, Kluber has baffled hitters to the tune of 220 or more strikeouts in each of the past five seasons. However, this year will not be as bountiful, as Kluber is scheduled to miss months due to a broken forearm.

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Lachlan Cunningham // Getty Images

#53. Brandon Belt (tie)

- Position: first base
- Salary: $17,200,000
- Salary per game: $106,173

Brandon Belt may not be one of the most recognized stars in the game, but in San Francisco, he is reaching near legendary status. Entering his ninth season with the Giants this year, Belt helped the team win two World Series this decade, with his diverse skill set in the outfield and at first base. Belt has even earned an endearing nickname in the Bay Area: “Baby Giraffe.”

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Hannah Foslien // Getty Images

#52. Mike Trout

- Position: center field
- Salary: $17,666,667
- Salary per game: $109,054

Considered by many to be the preeminent talent in baseball today, Mike Trout is the epitome of a five-tool player (hitting for average, power, speed, containing arm strength, and fielding acumen). Trout is already a seven-time All-Star and two-time Most Valuable Player Award winner. Before the 2019 season, he signed a contract extension worth nearly $430 million that will soon catapult him to the top of this list.

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Andy Lyons // Getty Images

#51. Hyun-Jin Ryu

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $17,900,000
- Salary per game: $110,494

This import from South Korea is starting to show he may be worth well more than his current salary. Hyun-Jin Ryu arrived in Los Angeles in 2013, and for two seasons won 14 games. Injuries sidetracked Ryu, but from 2018–19, he has kept his ERA under 2.00 and drew comparisons to Hall of Famer Greg Maddux.

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Eric Espada // Getty Images

#48. Ryan Zimmerman (tie)

- Position: first base
- Salary: $18,000,000
- Salary per game: $111,111

Few players have been more synonymous with the Washington Nationals franchise than Ryan Zimmerman. Making his debut in 2005, Zimmerman has played every season in the nation's capital, and that loyalty earned him a hefty contract. Zimmerman's career has often been marred by injuries, but when healthy, he has amassed almost 1,000 runs batted in and been named an All-Star twice.

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Matthew Stockman // Getty Images

#48. Wade Davis (tie)

- Position: relief pitcher
- Salary: $18,000,000
- Salary per game: $111,111

Originally a starting pitcher, Wade Davis has elevated his worth as a reliever. From 2015–17, working out of the bullpen, Davis made three consecutive All-Star games. As baseball has shifted with importance leaning toward strong end-of-inning pitchers, Davis has found his niche with a curveball that registers near 85 mph.

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Chris Covatta // Getty Images

#48. Justin Upton (tie)

- Position: left field
- Salary: $18,000,000
- Salary per game: $111,111

An All-Star by the age of 21, Justin Upton has long seemed destined for a big contract. Since his debut, the power-hitting outfielder has made three more appearances in the Midsummer Classic and is approaching 300 career home runs. Upton is also super-durable, clocking in 130 or more games every season since that first All-Star year of 2009.

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Ezra Shaw // Getty Images

#47. Rich Hill

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $18,666,668
- Salary per game: $115,226

Better late than never is the theme of Rich Hill's career. The late blossoming starter received his first substantial contract at age 36, inking a three-year deal before the 2017 season for $48 million. The year before, Hill finally optimized his 6-foot-5 frame to deceive hitters, posting a 12-5 record and 2.12 ERA.

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Elsa // Getty Images

#46. Anthony Rendon

- Position: third base
- Salary: $18,800,000
- Salary per game: $116,049

One of the most underrated yet also most well-rounded infielders in baseball today, Anthony Rendon is due for a huge contract next season. His $18.8 million salary this year is already quite gaudy, but the doubles and RBI machine should see a nice uptick when he becomes a free agent this winter.

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Harry How // Getty Images

#43. Justin Turner (tie)

- Position: third base
- Salary: $19,000,000
- Salary per game: $117,284

Mostly known as a utilityman over his first five big league seasons with the Baltimore Orioles and New York Mets, Justin Turner evolved into a revelation once he went West. In six years with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Turner has become one of the most productive third basemen in the National League and is the heartbeat of the team's clubhouse. In 2017, Turner won MVP honors in the National League Championship Series, helping the Dodgers to the World Series.

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Mitchell Leff // Getty Images

#43. Ryan Braun (tie)

- Position: left field
- Salary: $19,000,000
- Salary per game: $117,284

There was a time not so long ago when Ryan Braun was one of baseball's brightest stars. The Milwaukee Brewers decided to extend his contract before he hit free agency, a seemingly smart move at the time. But on the heels of five consecutive All-Star nods, Braun was suspended by Major League Baseball for using performance-enhancing drugs in 2013.

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Daniel Shirley // Getty Images

#43. Mark Melancon (tie)

- Position: relief pitcher
- Salary: $19,000,000
- Salary per game: $117,284

Another beneficiary of baseball's recent infatuation with relievers, Mark Melancon didn't begin cashing in on his worth until he hit his 30s. Melancon led the majors in saves (51) in 2015 and followed that campaign with 47 saves, which was great leverage as he entered free agency. The San Francisco Giants, in need of a closer, rewarded Melancon with a hefty four-year deal.

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Sean M. Haffey // Getty Images

#42. Kenley Jansen

- Position: relief pitcher
- Salary: $19,333,334
- Salary per game: $119,342

One of the game's top closers, Kenley Jansen has been a staple in the Los Angeles Dodgers' bullpen through the past decade. In each of the past five years, Jensen has saved 35 or more games. His cutter and sinker are two of the more devastating pitches you'll see and help explain his ERA under 3.00 from 2011–17 (his 2018 ERA was 3.01).

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Abbie Parr // Getty Images

#41. Kyle Seager

- Position: third base
- Salary: $19,500,000
- Salary per game: $120,370

Ever since he was called up to the Seattle Mariners in 2011, Kyle Seager was projected as a cornerstone of the franchise. A powerful batter with a solid glove at third base (he won a Gold Glove Award in 2014), Seager is signed through 2022. Seager's parents can also watch Kyle's brother, Corey, as a star shortstop for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Joe Robbins // Getty Images

#40. Jeff Samardzija

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $19,800,000
- Salary per game: $122,222

Before he broke into the bigs, Jeff Samardzija could have received big money playing football. A wide receiver at Notre Dame, Samardzija eventually chose baseball and debuted in 2008. Since then, he's amassed almost $100 million in salary.

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Andy Lyons // Getty Images

#33. Russell Martin (tie)

- Position: catcher
- Salary: $20,000,000
- Salary per game: $123,457

A sweet-swinging catcher can be one of the most valuable assets in a lineup, and for over a decade, Russell Martin has been at the top of his class among offensive categories for backstops. His large payday came courtesy of the Toronto Blue Jays—an extra perk since Martin was born in Ontario.

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Eric Espada // Getty Images

#33. Wei-Yin Chen (tie)

- Position: relief pitcher
- Salary: $20,000,000
- Salary per game: $123,457

After four quietly good seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, Wei-Yin Chen struck it big with the Miami Marlins before the 2016 season. Chen, who is from Taiwan, has only won 13 games with the Marlins and is now relegated to their bullpen.

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Dilip Vishwanat // Getty Images

#33. Yadier Molina (tie)

- Position: catcher
- Salary: $20,000,000
- Salary per game: $123,457

Few catchers since the turn of the century have been as impactful as Yadier Molina. Since his 2004 debut, Molina has collected nine All-Star appearances and nine Gold Gloves and is destined to have his number retired in St. Louis when his career is over. Molina is generally regarded as one of the finest defensive players of his generation.

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Kathryn Riley // Getty Images

#33. Mookie Betts (tie)

- Position: right field
- Salary: $20,000,000
- Salary per game: $123,457

The Boston Red Sox knew Mookie Betts was due for a huge raise entering the 2019 season, so to avoid arbitration they went ahead and gave him a record $20 million. Betts, who won the American League MVP award, is often considered among the game's premier players and at 26 is due for some more record-setting figures in the years to come.

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Jonathan Daniel // Getty Images

#33. Alex Gordon (tie)

- Position: left field
- Salary: $20,000,000
- Salary per game: $123,457

Entering his 13th year with the Kansas City Royals, Alex Gordon was rewarded handsomely in 2016. Gordon has been a leader in Kansas City for over a decade and re-signed in 2016 with the club that drafted him, for an extra four years and $72 million total. When all is said and done, Gordon will likely go down in the pantheon of Royals greats.

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Stacy Revere // Getty Images

#33. Yu Darvish (tie)

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $20,000,000
- Salary per game: $123,457

Last year, when free agents were taking longer than ever to sign deals, Yu Darvish was still able to strike it rich with a six-year, $126 million contract. Darvish's mystifying arsenal of pitches made him a much sought-after starter—some accounts have him able to throw six pitches in his repertoire when most aces only carry four. His first season with the Chicago Cubs in 2018 was marred by injury, and Darvish has continued to try and regain his electric form.

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Mark Brown // Getty Images

#33. Cole Hamels (tie)

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $20,000,000
- Salary per game: $123,457

Club options to pick up a player's contract at the end of their career are usually passed on—an aging veteran costing around $20 million is usually not a wise investment. But Cole Hamels was so effective after being traded to the Chicago Cubs last season that the team decided to buy in on his player option, instead of buying him out for $6 million. With a devastating changeup, Hamels posted a 2.36 ERA in 12 starts for the Cubs in 2018.

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Jason Miller // Getty Images

#32. Carlos Santana

- Position: designated hitter
- Salary: $20,333,333
- Salary per game: $125,514

For some players, there's no place like home, and for Carlos Santana, those comfy confines are in Cleveland. After spending his first eight years with the Indians, Santana signed a three-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, beginning in 2018. But a trade to the Seattle Mariners and then back to Cleveland has Santana returning to his original club in 2019, where he hit 174 home runs from 2010–17.

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Denis Poroy // Getty Images

#29. Eric Hosmer (tie)

- Position: first base
- Salary: $21,000,000
- Salary per game: $129,630

Eric Hosmer was beloved during his seven years in Kansas City (including helping the Royals win the 2015 World Series). When he hit free agency after the 2017 season, the San Diego Padres became enamored with the intangibles that Hosmer brought to the Royals—as well as his four Gold Gloves—and pried him away from the Midwest with what was then the largest contract in Padres franchise history (eight years, $144 million).

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Ronald Martinez // Getty Images

#29. Shin-Soo Choo (tie)

- Position: designated hitter
- Salary: $21,000,000
- Salary per game: $129,630

Although he never made an All-Star game before the 2014 season, Shin-Soo Choo signed a seven-year, $130 million contract from the Texas Rangers. Choo held value for his uncanny ability in getting on base (including getting hit by pitches) and finally earned an All-Star nod last year at age 35. Since his first full season in 2006, Choo has never had an on-base percentage lower than .340

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Jason O. Watson // Getty Images

#29. Johnny Cueto (tie)

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $21,000,000
- Salary per game: $129,630

During the 2015 season, the Kansas City Royals traded for Johnny Cueto as they pushed toward another World Series appearance. Cueto was inconsistent for much of his time with the Royals, but in the playoffs he shined. In game two of the 2015 World Series, Cueto pitched a complete game—the first American League pitcher to do so since Jack Morris in 1991—and Kansas City won their first championship since 1985.

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Will Newton // Getty Images

#28. Chris Davis

- Position: first base
- Salary: $21,118,782
- Salary per game: $130,363

Before the 2016 season, Chris Davis signed the largest contract in Baltimore Orioles history (totaling $161 million). Davis was just coming off a campaign where he led the majors in home runs for the second time in three years, but his power stroke has been missing of late. Earlier this season, Davis had a streak of 62 plate appearances without registering a hit.

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Adam Glanzman // Getty Images

#27. Rick Porcello

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $21,125,000
- Salary per game: $130,401

In 2015, the Boston Red Sox gambled on Rick Porcello, a starter who had shown flashes of greatness for the Detroit Tigers. Porcello, acquired in a trade, was signed for four years and about $82 million. That risk paid off handsomely when Porcello, in 2016, won the American League Cy Young Award and later helped the team win a World Series.

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Jim McIsaac // Getty Images

#26. Jacoby Ellsbury

- Position: center field
- Salary: $21,142,857
- Salary per game: $130,511

The New York Yankees were coming off a disappointing 2013 season, failing to make the playoffs while their rivals, the Boston Red Sox, won a World Series championship. In response, the Yankees signed away speedy outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury from Boston for seven years, $153 million. However, the move has been considered one of the worst contracts in recent history, as Ellsbury never hit above .271 in a season in New York City and hasn't played since 2017.

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Hunter Martin // Getty Images

#25. Charlie Blackmon

- Position: right field
- Salary: $21,333,333
- Salary per game: $131,687

One of the best all-around hitters in baseball in recent years, Charlie Blackmon is another in a long line of master batsmen to home their craft in Coors Field. The three-time All-Star has taken advantage of Denver's high altitude and has hit over .300 for his career, with three straight seasons of 29 homers or more. In 2018, the Colorado Rockies made sure to keep that kind of production in tow, inking Blackmon to a six-year extension.

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Logan Riely // Getty Images

#24. Freddie Freeman

- Position: first base
- Salary: $21,359,375
- Salary per game: $131,848

After making his first All-Star team in 2013, the Atlanta Braves locked up Freddie Freeman, their cornerstone first baseman, to a franchise-record eight-year, $135 million deal. Freeman has made two more All-Star teams, won a Gold Glove, and led the National League with 192 hits in 2018. As the Braves continue their ascent, Freeman is poised to anchor their next run at a championship.

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Jason Miller // Getty Images

#23. Edwin Encarnacion

- Position: designated hitter
- Salary: $21,666,668
- Salary per game: $133,745

As he nears 400 career home runs, Edwin Encarnacion is firmly entrenched as one of baseball's top sluggers of the last decade. Encarnacion is beloved in multiple countries, from his native Dominican Republic to his adopted home in Canada, where fans were smitten by his “walking the parrot” home run celebration.

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Sarah Stier // Getty Images

#22. Masahiro Tanaka

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $22,000,000
- Salary per game: $135,802

After starring for seven years for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan, Masahiro Tanaka caught the eye of the baseball world when he decided to take his talents to Major League Baseball. The New York Yankees ponied up $155 million to sign Tanaka to a seven-year deal, and he has rewarded their investment by being of the best big-game pitchers in his six years stateside.

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Norm Hall // Getty Images

#21. Buster Posey

- Position: catcher
- Salary: $22,177,777
- Salary per game: $136,900

In the annals of great players to suit up for the San Francisco Giants franchise, Buster Posey has already carved his name among the greats. Posey has won a Rookie of the Year Award, a batting title (2012), a Gold Glove, and an MVP Award and been on three World Series-winning teams. Those are just some of the reasons Posey is locked up in The Bay through at least 2021.

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David Banks // Getty Images

#20. Jason Heyward

- Position: right field
- Salary: $22,500,000
- Salary per game: $138,889

Before he made his major league debut, Jason Heyward was being touted as baseball's next big thing. Heyward was named an All-Star in his 2010 rookie season and has been one of the game's top defensive outfielders but has not produced at the plate as expected. Still, his potential was enough for the Chicago Cubs to offer him a $184 million contract before the 2016 season, and he would go on to help clinch a World Series that season.

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Daniel Shirley // Getty Images

#19. Josh Donaldson

- Position: third base
- Salary: $23,000,000
- Salary per game: $141,975

Josh Donaldson was an All-Star in 2014 playing for the Oakland Athletics, but he truly made his mark during parts of four seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays. The home run masher, who took on the nickname “Bringer of Rain,” hit 116 homers with the Blue Jays.

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Mitchell Layton // Getty Images

#18. J.D. Martinez

- Position: designated hitter
- Salary: $23,750,000
- Salary per game: $146,605

Sometimes patience is key. J.D. Martinez did not sign a free agent contract until February 2018 (traditionally, free agent deals are confirmed in December), but the wait was well worth it. Not only did Martinez guarantee $23.75 million for three years from the Boston Red Sox, but he led the majors in RBIs (130) last season, helping Boston to a World Series title.

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Elsa // Getty Images

#17. Robinson Cano

- Position: second base
- Salary: $24,000,000
- Salary per game: $148,148

After making five All-Star teams with the New York Yankees, the star second baseman was due for a big payday when he was eligible to become a free agent after the 2013 season. The Yankees balked at the high price tag, and the Seattle Mariners swooped in with a 10-year, $240 million contract, reportedly $65 million more than New York was willing to offer. Cano made three All-Star teams with Seattle, but was suspended for performance-enhancing drug use in 2018 and then traded to the New York Mets in the offseason.

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Rich Gagnon // Getty Images

#14. Jordan Zimmermann (tie)

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $25,000,000
- Salary per game: $154,321

Jordan Zimmerman was a promising young starter during the Washington Nationals rise to prominence earlier this decade, making two All-Star teams and winning a league-high 19 games in 2013. But when free agency came, Zimmerman spurned the Nationals and signed with the Detroit Tigers for five years and $110 million. Zimmerman has struggled in his new home, going 24-28 for the Motor City entering this season.

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Jamie Sabau // Getty Images

#14. Joey Votto (tie)

- Position: first base
- Salary: $25,000,000
- Salary per game: $154,321

Although his team hasn't been too successful, Joey Votto has repeatedly been the most valuable part of the Cincinnati Reds lineup in his 13 years with the team. Votto has led the National League in on-base percentage seven times, winning numerous awards for his efforts. As a result, the Reds rewarded him with a contract that pays him $25 million each year through 2023.

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Mitchell Leff // Getty Images

#14. Jake Arrieta (tie)

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $25,000,000
- Salary per game: $154,321

Jake Arrieta was another player who had to wait for his payday during the 2018 offseason, but eventually signed with the Philadelphia Phillies for three years and $75 million. The 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner is still trying to recapture his form from his time as a Chicago Cub when he went 68-31 from 2013–17.

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Elsa // Getty Images

#12. Giancarlo Stanton (tie)

- Position: designated hitter
- Salary: $26,000,000
- Salary per game: $160,494

After hitting a career-high 37 home runs in 2014, Giancarlo Stanton signed what was then the richest contract in the sport: 13 years, $325 million. Stanton continued to hit homers at an astronomical rate, including 59 in 2017, but the cash-strapped Miami Marlins traded him to the New York Yankees that offseason.

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Matthew Stockman // Getty Images

#12. Nolan Arenado (tie)

- Position: third base
- Salary: $26,000,000
- Salary per game: $160,494

He might not play in a major media market, but Nolan Arenado is undoubtedly one of baseball's brightest stars. A defensive stud who's averaged over 125 RBI and just under 40 home runs each of the last four seasons, Arenado is the epitome of a franchise player. That's why the Colorado Rockies locked him up through 2026, promising to pay him over $35 million annually for a majority of that deal.

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Scott Taetsch // Getty Images

#11. Jon Lester

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $27,500,000
- Salary per game: $169,753

Few pitchers have been as consistently good as Jon Lester since he became a full-time starter in 2006. Lester has won 10 or more games in every season but one and is a five-time All-Star. That clockwork production makes him among the richest pitchers in baseball.

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Adam Glanzman // Getty Images

#10. Felix Hernandez

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $27,857,142
- Salary per game: $171,958

Felix Hernandez is so beloved in Seattle, not only is he nicknamed “King Felix,” but he has his own section during games, called the “King's Court.” For much of the past decade, Hernandez's starts were must-see TV for Mariners fans, evidenced by his six All-Star nods from 2009–15. Though his fastball is no longer as blazing as it once was, Hernandez once struck out 200 or more batters in six straight seasons.

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Tim Warner // Getty Images

#8. Justin Verlander (tie)

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $28,000,000
- Salary per game: $172,840

Since 2012, Justin Verlander has been earning at least $20 million, but he is one of the rare cases where such large contracts are still paying off late into his 30s. Now 36 and earning $28 million annually, Verlander is still as dominant a pitcher as he was in his 20s. The former Rookie of the Year, MVP, Cy Young Award winner, and seven-time All-Star, already has one World Series ring and is aiming for another.

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Gregory Shamus // Getty Images

#8. Albert Pujols (tie)

- Position: first base
- Salary: $28,000,000
- Salary per game: $172,840

Once eligible in 2011, Albert Pujols signed a contract for $254 million over 10 years, courtesy of the Los Angeles Angels. Pujols has won three MVPs, two World Series rings, and is a 10-time All-Star, putting him in rarefied air. This season he also surpassed the 2,000 RBI mark.

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Elsa // Getty Images

#7. Yoenis Cespedes

- Position: center field
- Salary: $29,000,000
- Salary per game: $179,012

When he was traded to the New York Mets during the 2015 season, Yoenis Cespedes became a spark plug that ignited the team to a World Series appearance. The Mets rewarded Cespedes with a series of contracts set to pay him well over $20 million annually. Since that magical 2015 run, though, Cespedes has battled a number of ailments.

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Mitchell Leff // Getty Images

#6. Miguel Cabrera

- Position: first base
- Salary: $30,000,000
- Salary per game: $185,185

A two-time MVP and 11-time All-Star, Miguel Cabrera is one of his generation's finest hitters. The four batting titles are more than enough proof, and if that doesn't convince you, then look at his 450-plus home runs hit before turning 35 and the 11 straight seasons of 100 or more RBI from 2004–14.

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Harry How // Getty Images

#4. Clayton Kershaw (tie)

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $31,000,000
- Salary per game: $191,358

For the past decade, Clayton Kershaw has been regarded as one of baseball's premier pitchers. Three times he's led the National League in wins; five times he's topped the league in lowest ERA, and three times he's posted the most strikeouts. That all amounts to three Cy Young Awards and an MVP trophy—and a guy deemed worthy of his $31 million salary.

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Omar Rawlings // Getty Images

#4. David Price (tie)

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $31,000,000
- Salary per game: $191,358

David Price was the prize of the 2015–16 free agent class and pulled in a whopping $217 million from the Boston Red Sox. He posted a solid 39-19 record in Boston entering this year, although his higher than average ERA has made some fans grumble. Still, Price shined when it mattered most, going 2-0 in the 2018 playoffs as the Red Sox won it all.

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Jennifer Stewart // Getty Images

#3. Zack Greinke

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $34,500,000
- Salary per game: $212,963

When he was 21, Zack Greinke actually led the American League in losses, going 5-17 for the Kansas City Royals. Greinke would go on to become a stud on the mound, twice posting the lowest ERA in the majors. That kind of control made him a well-sought after free agent, earning him two contracts during his career over $100 million.

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea // Getty Images

#2. Max Scherzer

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $37,405,562
- Salary per game: $230,899

One of the most intimidating forces on the mound in the game's history, Max Scherzer has won three Cy Young Awards and rarely missed a start in his illustrious career. He also holds some of the rarest records ever, including two no-hitters in the same season, a 20-strikeout game, and two immaculate innings (nine pitches, all strikes).

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Scott Taetsch // Getty Images

#1. Stephen Strasburg

- Position: starting pitcher
- Salary: $38,333,334
- Salary per game: $236,626

Stephen Strasburg's career has had dizzying highs and lows. He burst onto the scene as one of the most hyped pitchers ever, lived up to the buzz, and then had Tommy John surgery. In his first season back, Strasburg was named an All-Star and has added two more appearances in the Midsummer Classic onto his résumé.

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