Salaries in sports are a polarizing subject. Determining what a player is worth to a franchise and what to pay him is a very subjective process, and everyone is bound to have their own opinion. With that in mind, these are the five highest-paid players in the American League this season.
1. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees – $30 million
Alex Rodriguez has been a mainstay on the Yankees roster for nearly a decade. During that time he’s been not just one of the best players on the team, but also one of the best players in all of Major League Baseball. For his services, the Yankees are paying him a cool $30 million this season.
Despite the high salary, 2012 has been a relatively quiet year for A-Rod and he’s fighting a fractured hand that will keep him out of action until September. He’s currently sitting on a .276 batting average with 15 home runs to his name. The numbers aren’t eye-popping, but all that really matters is that the Yankees have the top three records in the American League right now.
2. Vernon Wells, Angels – $24.2 million
Ask anyone affiliated with the Angels what they thought Vernon Wells’ role with the Angels would be this season, and no one would have responded with “backup.” Such has become the case this season, though. Wells spent the last two months on the DL, and Mike Trout has emerged in his place as one of the best players in baseball. Meanwhile, Wells gets paid almost $25 million to be a reserve.
He’ll certainly have a chance to perform, but right now the “how” behind that seems murky. Wells can still perform, unless the thumb somehow turns out to have permanently affected his game. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out; he could find himself moved in the offseason if there is no room for him in the lineup.
3. Mark Teixeira, Yankees – $23.1 million
A few years ago, Mark Teixeira was the most sought-after free agent in baseball. He eventually landed with the Yankees, signing an 8-year deal with the Yankees. Now in the fourth year of that deal, Teixeira is earning $23.1 million this year. His numbers are strong overall. He’s currently top 10 in the American League in RBIs, although his below .260 batting average leaves something to be desired. As is the case with A-Rod, though, the Yankees are primed to be a part of the year ending pennant race, so clearly Teixeira is earning his pay.
4. Prince Fielder, Tigers – $23 million
The Tigers are on the brink of taking over their division from the White Sox. Much of the reason that they’ve been able to remain as competitive as they have been is the play of Prince Fielder. The first baseman is solid when it comes to fielding the ball, but he really pays dividends from the plate. His .300 plus batting average is top 15 in the American League, and his 70+ RBIs are good for top 5. Add in the fact that he’s given the team a shade under 20 home runs so far this year, and it’s hard to argue against the Tigers paying him $23 million this year.
5. Joe Mauer, Twins – $23 million
So far, every player listed here has played on a winning team. Such is not the case with Joe Mauer. The Twins catcher is part of a squad that’s won less than 50 games all season long. Still, he’s one of the few bright spots for fans of the team. His batting average is top 5 in the American League, and he’s exciting to watch. He’s not a slugger who puts up a lot of home runs, but he’s been a machine at producing doubles. Mauer made his fifth All-Star appearance this season, and the $23 million salary he’s collecting seems apt considering that he’s hitting the apex of his career.
The players on the list are bound to be the topic of much discussion for their salaries. It’s easy to forget that these guys have to play under a microscope, though. The more a player makes, the more criticism he receives for a slump or a weak outing. Despite their big paychecks, these players have a tremendous amount of responsibility.
About the Author: Tomas Shapiro likes sports so much, he chooses to write about it in his free time. If that’s not crazy enough, he sleeps with ESPN on at night to keep his brain wired to sports. Tomas recommends Pro Sports Memorabilia for the best in authentic baseball memorabilia including autographed items and display cases.