Ranking the Highest-Paid Player on Every MLB Team in 2023
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Justin VerlanderAP Photo/Seth Wenig
The 2022-23 MLB offseason has seen a ton of money thrown at the free-agent market, including contracts that will make Justin Verlander and Aaron Judge the newest members of the exclusive $40 million-per-year club.
Not everyone is spending big bucks, though.
The one-year, $7 million deal given to relief pitcher Trevor May was enough to make him the highest-paid player on the Oakland Athletics, while Kyle Gibson moved to the top of the Baltimore Orioles payroll with a one-year, $10 million pact.
Ahead we've taken every team's highest-paid player for the upcoming season and ranked them based on their expected performance in 2023.
It's important to note that we are simply ranking players based on their projected performance, and the value of their respective contracts relative to others on this list was not a consideration for where they fell in the rankings.
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Miguel CabreraSteven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
30. LHP Patrick Corbin, Washington Nationals
2023 Salary: $24.4 million
After helping the Nationals win a World Series in the first season of his six-year, $140 million deal, Corbin quickly unraveled. The 33-year-old had a 6.31 ERA and 1.70 WHIP in 152.2 innings last season, which made him a minus-2.5 WAR player. Stephen Strasburg technically has a $35 million salary in 2023, but with $11.4 million of that deferred, Corbin is the team's highest-paid player.
29. DH Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
2023 Salary: $32 million
Cabrera provided one of the memorable moments of the 2023 season when he joined the 3,000-hit club on April 23, but overall it was another poor season for the aging future Hall of Famer. The 39-year-old hit .254/.305/.317 for an 83 OPS+ in 433 plate appearances, and he's entering the final guaranteed season of an eight-year, $240 million deal.
28. RHP Trevor May, Oakland Athletics
2023 Salary: $7 million
Sad is really the only word for the fact that a reliever is the highest-paid player on the Oakland roster, and it's a reliever the A's just signed to a one-year deal after he struggled to a 5.04 ERA in 26 appearances in 2022. The right-hander has a solid track record as a late-inning reliever, and he could prove to be a good buy-low trade chip to be flipped in July, but that doesn't make it any less sad.
27. 1B Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
2023 Salary: $25 million
Votto seemingly found the Fountain of Youth in 2021 when he logged a 139 OPS+ and slugged 36 home runs, but his production plummeted during an injury-plagued 2022. The 39-year-old struggled to an 87 OPS+ with only 30 extra-base hits in 91 games, and Cincinnati is still on the hook for another $25 million in 2023 and then a $20 million club option for 2024 that is tied to a $7 million buyout.
26. DH/OF Jorge Soler, Miami Marlins
2023 Salary: $15 million
In search of some offensive firepower last offseason, the Marlins signed Soler to a three-year, $36 million deal following his impressive postseason run that ended in World Series MVP honors. The 30-year-old slugger hit just .207 with a 95 OPS+ in 72 games, tallying 13 doubles, 13 home runs and 34 RBI when he wasn't nursing a nagging back issue.
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Madison BumgarnerChristian Petersen/Getty Images
25. RHP Kyle Gibson, Baltimore Orioles
2023 Salary: $10 million
The Orioles signed Gibson to fill the role that Jordan Lyles occupied on the staff last year when he served as a workhorse veteran and mentor to the other young starters. Gibson, 35, has topped 150 innings in seven of the last nine seasons, and his 5.05 ERA last year was backed by a far more promising 4.28 FIP over 31 starts for the Philadelphia Phillies.
24. LHP Madison Bumgarner, Arizona Diamondbacks
2023 Salary: $18 million
Three seasons into his five-year, $85 million contract with the D-backs, Bumgarner has logged a 4.98 ERA and 5.04 FIP in 65 starts. The longtime San Francisco Giants ace had a 4.88 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 158.2 innings last season, and given the rising cost of middle-of-the-rotation starters, he could become a viable trade chip before his contract is over.
23. RHP Zach Eflin, Tampa Bay Rays
2023 Salary: $11 million
Few teams do a better job of identifying and maximizing talent on the mound than the Rays, so their decision to sign Eflin to a franchise-record three-year, $40 million deal in free agency is worth monitoring closely. The 28-year-old had a 4.44 ERA in 659.1 innings over seven seasons with the Phillies, and he saw some work at the back of the bullpen last year along with his usual role in the starting rotation.
22. 3B Anthony Rendon, Los Angeles Angels
2023 Salary: $38.6 million
Rendon has played in just 157 games over the first three seasons of his massive seven-year, $245 million contract, but he has still been productive when healthy with a 115 OPS+ and 3.2 WAR in what amounts to roughly a full season's worth of games. He has more bounce-back potential than some of the other overpaid veterans on this list, but the fact that he's out-earning Mike Trout ($37.1 million) is still ridiculous.
21. OF Kris Bryant, Colorado Rockies
2023 Salary: $28 million
Signing Bryant was a head-scratcher from the start for the Rockies, even before he struggled to stay on the field while playing just 42 games in the first season of his seven-year, $182 million contract. That said, he hit .306/.376/.475 for a 127 OPS+ in 181 plate appearances, and the 30-year-old will be one of the leading candidates for NL Comeback Player of the Year in 2023.
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Joc PedersonLachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
20. RHP Lance Lynn, Chicago White Sox
2023 Salary: $18.5 million
Lynn is the highest-paid player on the White Sox by a narrow margin over Yasmani Grandal ($18.3 million) and Yoán Moncada ($17.8 million). After finishing third in AL Cy Young voting in 2021, he went 8-7 with a 3.99 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 124 strikeouts in 121.2 innings this past season. The 35-year-old missed the first two-and-a-half months of the year recovering from knee surgery.
19. OF Joc Pederson, San Francisco Giants
2023 Salary: $19.7 million
Despite being used mostly as a platoon player against right-handed pitching, Pederson led the Giants with 23 home runs in 433 plate appearances while earning his second career All-Star selection last year. The Giants extended a qualifying offer at the start of the offseason, and he accepted the one-year, $19.7 million contract, which represented a significant raise over his $6 million salary in 2022.
18. 1B/DH Josh Bell, Cleveland Guardians
2023 Salary: $16.5 million
Bell struggled after he was traded to the San Diego Padres at the deadline last year, but he still finished with a 128 OPS+ while hitting .266/.362/.422 with 29 doubles, 17 home runs and 71 RBI in 156 games. The generally tight-fisted Guardians signed him to a two-year, $33 million deal, and he will provide some much-needed protection for José Ramírez in the middle of the order.
17. 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes, Pittsburgh Pirates
2023 Salary: $10 million
Hayes hit a middling .244/.314/.345 for an 87 OPS+ in 2022, but he was still a 4.3-WAR player on the strength of his elite defense at the hot corner. The Pirates signed him to an eight-year, $70 million extension prior to last season, and the 25-year-old is a cornerstone of their ongoing rebuilding efforts.
16. LF Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers
2023 Salary: $22 million
Yelich accounted for 16.8 percent of Milwaukee's final payroll figure in 2022, and while he was productive with a 111 OPS+ and 43 extra-base hits in 154 games, he's fallen a long way from the MVP-caliber form he showed in 2018 and 2019. The Brewers are still on the hook for $156 million over the next six years, along with a mutual option in 2029 that carries deferred money whether it's exercised or declined, and that's a detrimental total for a small-market club.
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Robbie RayMichael Owens/Getty Images
15. C Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
2023 Salary: $20 million
The Royals signed Perez to a four-year, $82 million extension prior to the 2021 season, and he thanked the team with a 48-homer, 121-RBI explosion. A thumb injury limited him to 114 games this past season, but he was still one of the best offensive catchers in baseball when healthy, slugging 23 home runs with a 110 OPS+ in 473 plate appearances. Similar to Yadier Molina in St. Louis, his value to the team transcends his surface-level production.
14. RHP Marcus Stroman, Chicago Cubs
2023 Salary: $25 million
Stroman has never been one to post gaudy strikeout totals, but he remains extremely effective thanks to his bowling ball sinker that helped generate a 51.7 percent ground-ball rate in 2022. The 31-year-old had a 3.50 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 138.2 innings in the first season of a three-year, $71 million deal, though that includes an opt-out after the 2023 campaign.
13. SS Trevor Story, Boston Red Sox
2023 Salary: $20 million
Between a slow start to the 2022 season and a wrist fracture and a heel injury that cost him stretches of the second half, it's impressive that Story still managed to finish with 22 doubles, 16 home runs and 2.5 WAR in 94 games. The 30-year-old will shift back to his natural shortstop position following the departure of Xander Bogaerts in free agency. Chris Sale has a $27.5 million salary for 2023, but $10 million of it has been deferred.
12. LHP Robbie Ray, Seattle Mariners
2023 Salary: $21 million
Ray fell short of matching his 2021 AL Cy Young numbers in the first season of a five-year, $115 million deal with the Mariners, but he was still one of the best left-handed starters in baseball. The 31-year-old went 12-12 with a 3.71 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 212 strikeouts in 189 innings, and he'll be counted on to anchor one of the best rotations in baseball alongside Luis Castillo, Logan Gilbert, George Kirby and either Marco Gonzales or Chris Flexen.
11. OF Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
2023 Salary: $15.1 million
If Buxton can find a way to stay healthy for a full season, he might just walk away with AL MVP honors. In 153 games scattered around multiple injured list trips over the past two seasons, he has a 150 OPS+ with 36 doubles, 47 home runs, 83 RBI, 111 runs scored, 15 steals and 8.5 WAR. The old adage that availability is the best ability still holds true, but 90 games of Buxton is better than 162 games of most players.
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Bryce HarperNorm Hall/Getty Images
10. OF George Springer, Toronto Blue Jays
2023 Salary: $24.2 million
The six-year, $150 million deal the Blue Jays gave to Springer prior to the 2021 season signaled a new wave of spending in Toronto, and while the team has since added several other big-money deals, he remains the highest-paid player on the Blue Jays. The 33-year-old had a 131 OPS+ with 22 doubles, 25 home runs, 14 steals and 4.0 WAR in 2022.
9. 1B Matt Olson, Atlanta Braves
2023 Salary: $21 million
The Braves moved quickly to find a replacement for Freddie Freeman once it became clear he was not going to re-sign, acquiring Olson in a trade with the Oakland Athletics and then immediately signing him to an eight-year, $168 million deal. The 28-year-old played in all 162 games in his Atlanta debut, posting a 122 OPS+ with 44 doubles, 34 home runs, 103 RBI and 3.3 WAR.
8. SS Corey Seager, Texas Rangers
2023 Salary: $35.5 million
Seager got off to a slow start in the first season of his 10-year, $325 million contract, but he eventually rounded into form and wound up leading all shortstops with 33 home runs to go along with a 119 OPS+ and 4.0 WAR in 151 games. The 28-year-old will be the seventh-highest-paid player in baseball during the 2023 season.
7. 3B Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
2023 Salary: $30.2 million
Bregman signed a back-loaded five-year, $100 million extension prior to the 2019 season, and he will earn $30.2 million in 2023 and 2024 to wrap up that deal. After consecutive down years relative to his early career production, he returned to elite form in 2022, posting a 133 OPS+ with 38 doubles, 23 home runs, 93 RBI, 93 runs scored and 4.5 WAR in 155 games.
6. OF Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies
2023 Salary: $27.5 million
Harper will start the 2023 season on the sidelines as he recovers from offseason Tommy John surgery, and his 99 games played this past season were a career low outside the shortened 2020 campaign. Despite the injuries, he still made an impact, posting a 145 OPS+ in 426 plate appearances during the regular season before hitting .349/.414/.746 with six home runs and 13 RBI during Philadelphia's run to the World Series.
5. RHPs Max Scherzer & Justin Verlander, New York Mets
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Max ScherzerJim McIsaac/Getty Images
2023 Salary: $43.3 million
Future Hall of Famers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander will both hold the distinction of being the highest-paid players in baseball in 2023, and they will do it as teammates pitching atop the New York Mets rotation.
Scherzer signed a three-year, $130 million deal last offseason and then went 11-5 with a 2.29 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 173 strikeouts in 145.1 innings in his first season with the Mets.
Verlander took home 2022 AL Cy Young honors in his return from Tommy John surgery, turned down a $25 million player option to stay with the Houston Astros for another year, and inked a two-year, $86.7 million pact with the Mets in early December.
That duo could make or break the Mets' hopes of a World Series title.
4. 1B Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers
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Freddie FreemanKatelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images
2023 Salary: $27 million
The Dodgers made a splash last offseason when they signed Freddie Freeman away from the Atlanta Braves with a six-year, $162 million contract.
The 33-year-old hit .325/.407/.511 with 21 home runs and 100 RBI, leading the National League in hits (199), doubles (47) and runs scored (117) while finishing fourth in NL MVP voting.
Freeman has played in 698 of 708 games over the past five seasons, and that durability should help him remain highly productive over the next several years and into his late 30s.
After seeing the contracts handed out to starting pitchers this offseason, the Dodgers' front office will likely need to make Julio Urías the highest-paid player on the team in order to keep him from walking in free agency next offseason.
3. 1B Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals
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Paul GoldschmidtJustin Berl/Getty Images
2023 Salary: $26 million
After finishing runner-up in the NL MVP balloting twice during his time with the Arizona Diamondbacks, to go along with three other top-10 finishes, Paul Goldschmidt finally won the award in 2022.
Despite slumping over the final month, he still hit .317/.404/.578 for an NL-leading 180 OPS+ while tallying 41 doubles, 35 home runs, 115 RBI, 106 runs scored and 7.8 WAR in 151 games.
The 35-year-old has two years and $52 million remaining on the five-year extension he signed with the Cardinals after he was acquired from the D-backs.
Third baseman Nolan Arenado technically has a $35 million salary for 2023, but between the money being paid by the Colorado Rockies and the money that has been deferred, his adjusted salary for the upcoming season is just $13 million.
2. 3B Manny Machado, San Diego Padres
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Manny MachadoLachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
2023 Salary: $32 million
With Fernando Tatis Jr. watching from the sidelines and Juan Soto not acquired until August, Manny Machado did much of the heavy lifting for the San Diego Padres lineup in 2022, hitting .298/.366/.531 for a 159 OPS+ with 37 doubles, 32 home runs, 102 RBI and 6.8 WAR in 150 games.
The 30-year-old has a chance to make a run at some major milestones if he can stay healthy in the coming years with 1,597 hits and 283 home runs already under his belt.
Will he be chasing those milestones in a Padres uniform?
While there are six years and $192 million remaining on his contract, he can opt out after the 2023 season, and a report from the New York Post's Jon Heyman indicates he intends to do just that.
With Soto headed for free agency after the 2024 season, the Padres might need to decide which superstar to sign to a long-term deal.
1. OF Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
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Aaron JudgeBob Levey/Getty Images
2023 Salary: $40 million
The massive nine-year, $360 million deal that Aaron Judge signed to stay with the New York Yankees made him the third-highest-paid player in baseball for the 2023 season.
Coming off a historic 62-homer campaign and AL MVP honors, Judge was arguably the best baseball player on the planet in 2022, and the Yankees are counting on him once again anchoring their offense for the upcoming season.
Playing in 148 games in 2021 and 157 games in 2022 helped Judge shake the injury-prone label that plagued him early in his career and might have otherwise derailed his earning power.
Expect Shohei Ohtani to take over as baseball's highest-paid player in 2024 once he reaches free agency, and he'll have a strong case for the No. 1 spot on this list when that time comes, but for now the top spot belongs to Judge.