At $25.2 million per year, A-Rod was the highest paid player in baseball until his contract was up in 2010. Then he signed a new contract, breaking his own record. See how much he makes now and who else is in his elite company. While all these deals are structured differently, we used an average annual salary to compile this list. — Source: Cot's Baseball Contracts
Cole Hamels, Phillies, $24 million per year
Starter Cole Hamels signed a six-year extension with the Philadelphia Phillies worth $144 million. That's $24 million per year. Hamels was the coveted pitcher on the trade market before signing the extension.
Cliff Lee, Phillies, $24 million per year
The Phillies landed the prize free agent of the offseason, signing ace lefty Cliff Lee to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010. In 2009 Lee was with the Phillies, who traded him to the Mariners, who then traded him to the Rangers. The Phillies won't let him get away again; he's under contract until 2015.
Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels, $24 million per year
The Los Angeles Angels shocked the baseball world at the winter meetings in 2011, reaching an agreement with free-agent first baseman Albert Pujols on a 10-year contract that will be worth $240 million, guaranteed. The slugger's deal includes a personal-services agreement worth at least $10 million and Pujols, 31, received a full no-trade clause. The total value of his contract is the second-highest in major league history, behind Alex Rodriguez’s 10-year, $275 million deal. For the playing portion of his contract, he'll be making an average of $24 million per year.
CC Sabathia, Yankees, $24.4 million per year
Rather than test the free-agent market in 2011, CC Sabathia opted to sign a big extension with the Yankees. Sabathia’s guaranteed money went from $92 million over the last four years on his deal ($23 million per year) to $122 million over five ($24.4 million per year). That’s a $30 million windfall for Sabathia. New York has a $25 million option for 2017 with a $5 million buyout.
Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers, $24.5 million per year
On Dec. 8, 2012, the 29-year-old Greinke agreed to a six-year, $147 million deal with the free-spending Los Angeles Dodgers, a record for a pitcher on a multi-year deal. That’s $24.5 million per year. And he’s not even the team’s ace. That title belongs to Clayton Kershaw. Greinke also has an opt-out clause that enables him to return to the open market midway through the agreement, allowing him to take advantage of the by-then inflated pitching market. Greinke will earn $76 million in the first three years of his deal with the Dodgers; the deal is front-loaded, with the final three years valued at $71 million.
Ryan Howard, Philadephia Phillies, $25 million per year
The Phillies slugger signed a five-year, $125 million extension in April 2010 that kicked in with the 2012 season and takes him through 2016. He missed most of the 2012 season recovering from an Achilles injury. He now makes $25 million per year.
Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners, $25 million per year
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher King Felix earned a royal sum when the M's agreed to a seven-year extension with him on Feb. 7, 2013. Felix’s contract amounts to a five-year, $134.5 million extension with the $40.5 million he was owed over the next two years folded in. He'll make a total of $175 million over seven years, or an average of $25 million per year. Hernandez receives a $6 million signing bonus, along with annual salaries of $19 million, $22 million, $24 million, $25 million, $26 million, $26 million and $27 million, respectively. The contract includes a full no-trade clause and a package of incentives.
Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels, $25 million per year
On Dec. 13, 2012, free agent Hamilton became a member of the Los Angeles Angels, agreeing to a five-year, $125 million deal. The Angels took Hamilton away from their AL West rival Texas Rangers, who failed to come to terms with the 2010 AL MVP. He'll now be making $25 million per year.
Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers, $25.7 million per year
On March 29, 2013, the Tigers ace signed a five-year contract extension that includes a $28 million annual salary beginning with the 2015 season. That per annum trumps even A-Rod. Adding in his preexisting deal — at $20 million per in 2013 and 2014 — Verlander is due $180 million over seven years ($25.7M per), the highest total value for a pitcher's contract in baseball history. The contract also includes an option for the 2020 season worth $22 million, which could bring the deal’s total value to $202 million over eight years. See who's the highest paid player at each position and which players are in MLB's $100 million club.
Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees, $27.5 million per year
A-Rod broke his own record as highest paid player (annually and overall contract) when he and the Yankees agreed in December 2007 to a 10-year, $275 million contract. That's $27.5 million per year.