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Highest-Paid Players in MLB After Gerrit Cole's Record-Setting Yankees Contract

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorDecember 11, 2019

Houston Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole throws against the Washington Nationals during the first inning of Game 5 of the baseball World Series Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

The New York Yankees signed free-agent pitcher Gerrit Cole to a record-setting nine-year, $324 million contract Tuesday, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network and WFAN Radio.

Cole, 29, went 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA last season with the Houston Astros. He struck out an MLB-leading 326 batters and finished second in the American League Cy Young voting to teammate Justin Verlander.

The right-hander also punched out 10 or more batters over an 11-game span (nine regular-season games and two postseason contests against the Tampa Bay Rays).

Cole entered this offseason as MLB's most coveted free agent, and he was paid as such. He now finds himself with the fourth-richest contract in the majors, per Cot's Baseball Contracts, and the owner of the most expensive one among all pitchers.

     

10 Highest-Paid Current MLB Players

1. Los Angeles Angels CF Mike Trout: $426,500,000 (2019-2030)

2. Philadelphia Phillies RF Bryce Harper: $330,000,000 (2019-2031)

3. New York Yankees LF Giancarlo Stanton: $325,000,000 (2015-2027)

4. New York Yankees SP Gerrit Cole: $324,000,000 (2020-2028)

5. San Diego Padres 3B Manny Machado: $300,000,000 (2019-2028)

6. Colorado Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado: $260,000,000 (2019-2026)

7. Detroit Tigers 1B/DH Miguel Cabrera: $248,000,000 (2016-2023)

8. Washington Nationals SP Stephen Strasburg: $245,000,000 (2020-2026)

9. Los Angeles Angels 1B/DH Albert Pujols: $240,000,000 (2012-2021)

10. New York Mets 2B Robinson Cano: $240,000,000 (2014-2023)

     

Three-time American League MVP and consensus No. 1 MLB star Mike Trout sits atop the list. He certainly lived up to his contract last year by hitting a career-high 45 home runs and posting an AL-best 1.083 OPS en route to his third MVP.

After a frigid 2018-19 hot-stove season, prized free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado landed massive deals with the Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres, respectively. Both struggled a bit out of the gate, although Harper finished with 35 homers while Machado smacked 32.

Cole isn't even the highest-paid player on his new team, as that honor goes to Giancarlo Stanton. The outfielder was limited to only 18 games last year because of injuries, but led MLB with 59 home runs and 132 RBI with the Miami Marlins in 2017. He followed that up with 38 dingers and 100 RBI during his first season in pinstripes.

The slick-fielding Nolan Arenado will be in a Colorado Rockies uniform through 2026. Either he or free-agent third baseman Anthony Rendon (who will soon find his name on this list) is the best at the hot corner in today's game. Arenado has won a Gold Glove during all seven of his MLB seasons.

Detroit Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera, Los Angeles Angels DH Albert Pujols and New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano are all former stars who are now in the twilight of their careers.

All are future Hall of Famers, but Cabrera has struggled as of late with a .749 OPS over his last three seasons. Pujols' bat has slowed down, but he's still shown some pop (23 homers last year). Cano's batting average dropped from .303 in 2018 to .256 in 2019.

Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg owned the richest contract for a pitcher in MLB history for all of one day. He deserves that bag, however, after winning the World Series MVP to cap a season in which he went 18-6 with 251 strikeouts and a 3.32 ERA.