We call baseball America’s Favorite Pastime, and MLB athletes are some of the highest paid in the world. Lucrative salaries from their teams are expanded by the endorsements they receive for their legendary status. As baseball salaries have exploded, 28 top players will each take home at least $20 million this season. Here are some of the highest paid MLB players this year.
Clayton Kershaw: Los Angeles Dodgers
An MLB 2008 debut, Clayton Kershaw is a starting pitcher with salary tied for top spot. His endorsements push him to the top of the stack, with his total expected earnings reaching $31.2 million this year. His sponsors include Under Armour, Rawlings, Subway, Time Warner Cable, Wilson, and Muscle Milk, adding $1.2 million to his $30 million contract for this season. His seven-year contract is worth a total of $215 million and includes an $18 million signing bonus paid out over last year.
Jon Lester: Chicago Cubs
Though his total contract is only $155 million with the Cubs, Jon Lester is looking at a payout of more than $30 million, with half of his $30 million signing bonus helping to double his salary in 2015. After leaving New England, his $400,000 in endorsements ended. He will likely make at least as much in Chicago this year, though, with Nike remaining his biggest sponsor.
Robinson Cano: Seattle Mariners
With Derek Jeter’s retirement, there’s a large space to be filled in the endorsement world. Robinson Cano is one of the players who has really taken advantage of the opening. With his $27.5 million in salary, Cano is set to earn an additional $3.5 million in endorsements with Pepsi, DirecTV, Wilson, Topps, Nike and more. Check out the free baseball picks and tips on DocSports to see how Cano measures up this season.
Justin Verlander: Detroit Tigers
With a seven-year contract worth $180 million, Justin Verlander will take home $28 million in 2015. The 32-year-old’s average salary will end up being nearly $26 million, with $500,000 currently in endorsements from companies including Reebok and Majestic. A $22 million vesting option could push his total contract to $202 million in 2021.
Josh Hamilton: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
This year, Josh Hamilton will take a salary of $25.4 million from his five-year $125 million contract with the Angels. His contract is set to end in 2019, and his salary will rise to $30 million for the last two contract years. His $500,000 in endorsements comes from Vita Coco, among others. His relapse with cocaine and shoulder surgery could lead to his trade back to the Texas Rangers, which would drastically affect his earnings for 2015.
Cliff Lee: Philadelphia Phillies
At age 36, Cliff Lee is set to rake in $25.3 million in 2015. While his salary had him tied for the highest MLB salary of 2014 and 30th for athletes across the globe in 2014, he has dropped down to sixth in 2015. A mere $200,000 in endorsements comes from J.P. Mascaro & Sons, a waste hauler who has placed Lee’s image on their garbage trucks.
Zack Greinke: Los Angeles Dodgers
As the top free agent pitcher on the market during the 2012 off-season, Greinke signed a six-year contract with the Dodgers for $147 million. He set a record for 22 straight starts where the other team earned two runs or fewer. His endorsements only add up to $50,000, making the 31-year-old pitcher’s total salary $24.5 for 2015.
Ryan Howard: Philadelphia Phillies
While injuries kept this first baseman from more than half of the games in 2012 and 2013, Ryan Howard tied for top salary in 2014 with Cliff Lee in 2014. With a salary of $21.7 million plus $700,000 this year in endorsements, he stands to see a cool $22.4 million this year. Companies endorsed by Howard include New Balance and Subway. He also adds to his salary with memorabilia and appearances.
In 2014, average MLB salaries ($3.92 million) nearly doubled that of average NFL salaries ($2 million), but still fall short of NBA athletes’ average salaries ($4.9 million). With their various endorsements and sponsors, these MLB players take home some of professional sports’ top salaries.