The 26 highest-paid players in baseball

Salaries continue to soar in Major League Baseball as 36 players will make at least $20 million in total earnings this season, up from 21 players just three years ago.

This year's group of highest-paid players includes ten starting pitchers, six outfielders, four first basemen, a pair of designated hitters, and just one reliever.

The New York Yankees lead the way with four players on the list, followed by the Detroit Tigers with three. Six other teams have a pair of players on the list.

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The highest-paid players currently in baseball

T-24. Jayson Werth -- $21 million

Team: Washington Nationals

Position: Outfielder

2016 WAR: 1.1 Wins

Contract: 7 years, $126.0 million (contract expires after this season)

One thing to know: Werth recently said he wanted to play another five years — until he is 43 — although it was unclear if he was joking. Werth also said that he and the Nationals have not discussed a new contract but noted "there’s always a possibility."

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

T-24. James Shields -- $21 million

Team: Chicago White Sox

Position: Starting pitcher

2016 WAR: -0.9 Wins

Contract: 4 years, $75.0 million (through 2018 with $16.0 million team option for the 2019 season)

One thing to know: Shields was traded by the Padres to the White Sox with $57.8 million remaining on his contract. The Padres will pay $30.8 million of that, including $11.0 million this season.

(Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
T-24. Aroldis Chapman -- $21 million

Team: New York Yankees

Position: Relief pitcher

2016 WAR: 2.7 Wins

Contract: 5 years, $86.0 million (through 2021)

One thing to know: Chapman can opt out of the contract after the 2019 season and can reject any trade through the 2019 season.

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
23. Jacoby Ellsbury -- $21.1 million

Team: New York Yankees

Position: Outfielder

2016 WAR: 2.0 Wins

Contract: 7 years, $153.0 million (through 2020 with a $21.0 million club option for 2021)

One thing to know: In April, Andrew Marchand of ESPN wrote that Ellsbury "is on pace to become one of the worst free-agent signings in New York Yankees history."

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

22. Buster Posey -- $21.4 million

Team: San Francisco Giants

Position: Catcher

2016 WAR: 4.0 Wins

Contract: 9 years, $167.0 million (through 2021 with $22.0 million club option for 2022)

One thing to know: The Giants want Posey, 30, to stay at catcher as long as possible. General manager Bobby Evans told Jerry Crasnick, "My mindset is we’re a better team with Buster back there, and as long as we can keep him back there, we want to do it."

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

T-19. Matt Kemp -- $21.5 million

Team: Atlanta Braves

Position: Outfielder

2016 WAR: 0.7 Wins

Contract: 8 years, $160.0 million (through 2019)

One thing to know: Kemp is actually being paid by three different teams this season, including $3.5 million being paid by the Dodgers and $8.5 million being paid by the Padres.

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

T-19. Jason Heyward -- $21.5 million

Team: Chicago Cubs

Position: Outfielder

2016 WAR: 1.6 Wins

Contract: 8 years, $184.0 million (through 2023)

One thing to know: Of the $184.0 million, $20.0 million is in the form of a "signing bonus" to paid after the contract expires. Heyward can opt out of the deal following the 2018 season. After signing the contract, Heyward agreed to pay for a hotel suite for all road games for new teammate David Ross who had recently announced it would be his final season.

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

T-19. Adrian Gonzalez -- $21.5 million

Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Position: First base

2016 WAR: 1.3 Wins

Contract: 7 years, $154.0 million (through 2018 season)

One thing to know: Gonzlaez has already missed 21 games this season and is likely to miss a lot more as he is now on the disabled list with a recurring back injury.

(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

T-15. Joey Votto -- $22 million

Team: Cincinnati Reds

Position: First base

2016 WAR: 5.0 Wins

Contract: 10 years, $225.0 million (through 2023 with $20 million club option for 2024)

One thing to know: The Reds are in rebuilding mode, but Votto does not sound like he would be willing to waive his no-trade clause. During the offseason, Votto said, "I'm looking forward to the team getting better. I'm looking forward to being a part of it."

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

T-15. Masahiro Tanaka -- $22 million

Team: New York Yankees

Position: Starting pitcher

2016 WAR: 4.6 Wins

Contract: 7 years, $155.0 million (through 2020)

One thing to know: Tanaka can opt out of his contract following the 2017 season. Tanaka also receives $85,000 annually in order to hire an interpreter and also receives four first-class round-trip tickets to Japan annually.

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

T-15. Johnny Cueto -- $22 million

 

Team: San Francisco Giants

Position: Starting pitcher

2016 WAR: 5.5 Wins

Contract: 6 years, $130 million (through 2021 with a $22 million club option in 2022)

One thing to know: Cueto can opt out of his contract following the 2017 season. Even though Cueto would be walking out on the four years and $84 million left on his deal, Jeff Passan speculates that Cueto would "almost assuredly" get more than that as a free agent.

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

T-15. Hanley Ramirez -- $22 million

Team: Boston Red Sox

Position: Designated hitter

2016 WAR: 2.6 Wins

Contract: 4 years, $88.0 million (through 2018 with a $22 million vesting option for 2019)

One thing to know: Ramirez' option for 2019 becomes guaranteed if he has 1,050 plate appearances during the 2017 and 2018 seasons and passes a physical after the 2018 season.

(Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

14. Justin Upton -- $22.1 million

Team: Detroit Tigers

Position: Outfielder

2016 WAR: 1.4 Wins

Contract: 6 years, $132.8 million (through 2021)

One thing to know: Upton can opt out of his contract after the 2017 season. However, one anonymous general manager for a rival team said "not happening" when John Heyman asked if Upton would walk away from the four years and $88 million remaining on his contract.

(Photo by Kevin French/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

T-12. Cole Hamels -- $22.5 million

Team: Texas Rangers

Position: Starting pitcher

2016 WAR: 3.0 Wins

Contract: 6 years, $144.0 million (through 2018 with $20 million club option for 2019)

One thing to know: Hamels' 2019 option becomes guaranteed and grows to $24 million if he accumulates 200 innings pitched in 2018, 400 innings in 2017 and 2018 combined, and is not on the disabled list with an arm injury at the end of the 2018 season. The deal was the second-largest contract ever for a pitcher at the time of the signing in 2012.

(Photo by Steve Nurenberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

T-12. Yoenis Cespedes -- $22.5 million

Team: New York Mets

Position: Outfielder

2016 WAR: 3.2 Wins

Contract: 4 years, $110.0 million (through 2020)

One thing to know: Cespedes' salary jumps to $29 million in the second and third years of the deal and $29.5 million in the final year. Cespedes also has a full-no-trade clause. The $27.5 million average annual value is tied for the second-largest ever for a position player.

(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

11. Jose Reyes -- $22.5 million

Team: New York Mets

Position: Infielder

2016 WAR: 1.3 Wins

One thing to know: Reyes was released by the Rockies during the 2016 season with $39.1 million remaining on his $106.0 million contract, including $22.0 million in salary for the 2017 season. The Mets are paying Reyes the Major League minimum.

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

10. Joe Mauer -- $23 million

Team: Minnesota Twins

Position: First base

2016 WAR: 1.0 Wins

Contract: 8 years, $184.0 million (through 2018)

One thing to know: Largest contract ever for a catcher and the fourth-largest contract in history at the time of the signing in 2010.

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

T-8. Zack Greinke -- $24 million

Team: Arizona Diamondbacks

Position: Starting pitcher

2016 WAR: 2.2 Wins

Contract: 6 years, $206.5 million (through 2021)

One thing to know: Greinke's salary for 2017 is technically $31.0 million. However, $10.0 million of that is being deferred until after the contract expires. Greinke also received $3.0 million this year from his deferred $18.0 million signing bonus. The deferrals reduced the present-day value of the contract to $193.8 million.

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

T-8. Robinson Cano -- $24 million

Team: Seattle Mariners

Position: Second base

2016 WAR: 6.0 Wins

Contract: 10 years, $240.0 million (through 2023)

One thing to know: Cano is one of three players on this list represented by Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports. The others are C.C. Sabathia and Yoenis Cespedes.

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

7. C.C. Sabathia -- $25 millions

Team: New York Yankees

Position: Starting pitcher

2016 WAR: 2.6 Wins

Contract: 6 years, $147.0 million (expires after the 2017 season)

One thing to know: Sabathia was having a good season at age 37, but recently landed on the DL with an injured hamstring.

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

6. Albert Pujols -- $26 million

Team: Los Angeles Angels

Position: Designated hitter

2016 WAR: 0.9 Wins

Contract: 10 years, $240.0 million (through 2021)

One thing to know: Pujols recently hit his 600th home run. If he can reach 763 career home runs, he will receive a $7 million bonus. He will also receive $1 million per year for 10 years after he retires as part of a "personal-services contract" with the team.

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

5. Felix Hernandez -- $26.9 million

Team: Seattle Mariners

Position: Starting pitcher

2016 WAR: 1.0 Wins

Contract: 7 years, $175.0 million (through 2019)

One thing to know: The contract was the largest ever for a pitcher at the time of the signing in 2013.

(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

T-3. Justin Verlander -- $28 million

Team: Detroit Tigers

Position: Starting pitcher

2016 WAR: 5.2 Wins

Contract: 7 years, $180.0 million (through 2019 with a $22.0 million vesting option for 2020)

One thing to know: The option for 2020 becomes guaranteed if Verlander finishes in the top five of the Cy Young voting in 2019.

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

T-3. Miguel Cabrera -- $28 million

Team: Detroit Tigers

Position: First base

2016 WAR: 4.9 Wins

Contract: 8 years, $248.0 million (through 2023 with $30 million options for both 2024 and 2025)

One thing to know: The 2024 and 2025 options become fully guaranteed if Cabrera finishes in the top 10 of the MVP voting the previous season. Extension was signed with two years remaining on his previous deal, meaning he had 10 years and $292 worth of contracts remaining prior to the 2014 season. The two contracts combined have the potential to be worth as much as $460.3 million over 18 years.

(Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

2. David Price -- $30 million

Team: Boston Red Sox

Position: Starting pitcher

2016 WAR: 4.5 Wins

Contract: 7 years, $217.0 million (through 2022)

One thing to know: Price's deal is the largest contract ever for a pitcher. Price can opt out of the deal after the 2018 season. If he does not opt out, his salaries will grow to $31.0 million in 2019 and $32.0 million in the remaining years.

(Photo by Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

1. Clayton Kershaw -- $33 million

Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Position: Starting pitcher

2016 WAR: 6.5 Wins

Contract: 7 years, $215.0 million (through 2020)

One thing to know: Kershaw can opt out of his contract after the 2018 season with two years and $65 million remaining on the deal. Kershaw also received a $1.0 million bonus for every Cy Young Award he wins and $500 million each time he finishes second or third.

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

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Salaries and contract information via spotrac.com and BaseballProspectus.com.

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