The Highest-Paid MLB Players for the 2020 Season

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2020

The Highest-Paid MLB Players for the 2020 Season

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Los Angeles Angeles center fielder Mike Trout isn't only the best player in Major League Baseball. He's also the highest-paid one.

    Trout will bank nearly $37.7 million during the 2020 season. Seven of MLB's top 10 earners are starting pitchersa golden-armed group featuring three sets of teammates all making at least $31 million.

    Third basemen Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado round out the list of most expensive players in MLB, but where exactly do they land? We'll highlight the top 10, beginning with Los Angeles Dodgers star pitcher Clayton Kershaw.

10. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2020 salary: $31 million

    The ever-elusive World Series ring evaded Clayton Kershaw yet again, but the southpaw had another All-Star season in 2019.

    Kershaw posted the second-worst ERA (3.03) and FIP (3.86) of his career, which is absurd since both of those marks are impressive in and of themselves. He registered a 1.043 WHIP and 16-5 record while helping the Dodgers win a seventh straight NL West title.

    Entering his age-32 season, Kershaw has two years remaining on a three-year contract worth $93 million.

T-8. David Price, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    2020 salary: $32 million

    Kershaw has a new teammate, and that's in no small part because of David Price's expensive contract.

    In the blockbuster trade sending Mookie Betts to the Dodgers, the Boston Red Sox attached Price's seven-year, $217 million deal in an effort to duck below the luxury-tax line. That contract has three years and $92 million remaining, of which the Red Sox will pay approximately half, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

    Price is aiming for a bounce-back season after he ended his injury-ravaged 2019 campaign with a 7-5 record, 4.28 ERA and 1.314 WHIP.

T-8. Manny Machado, San Diego Padres

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    Ralph Freso/Associated Press

    2020 salary: $32 million

    After the 2018 season concluded, Manny Machado made it clear: The highest bidder would win.

    The San Diego Padres triumphed in the sweepstakes, handing the four-time All-Star a 10-year contract for $300 million. Beginning in 2020, he carries a $32 million payroll salary each season through 2028.

    Similar to Price, Machado is looking to rebound from a disappointing 2019 season. He hit a career-low .256 and managed a .796 OPS with 32 homers and 85 RBI.

7. Justin Verlander, Houston Astros

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    2020 salary: $33 million

    Eight seasons after the first Cy Young of his career, Justin Verlander added another trophy to his case in 2019.

    Verlander boasted a 21-6 record with a 2.58 ERA, a career-high 300 strikeouts and a 0.803 WHIP. The veteran edged now-former teammate Gerrit Cole in the prestigious award's voting, securing 17 of the 30 available first-place votes compared to Cole's 13.

    However, the season ended in a frustrating way, as Verlander went 1-4 with a 4.33 ERA during the playoffs. He'll attempt to propel the controversy-plagued Houston Astros back to the postseason in 2020.

T-4. Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2020 salary: $35 million

    When Nolan Arenado signed his eight-year, $260 million deal in February 2019, no position player had ever signed a contract worth more annually. Trout has since eclipsed the record, but it was a deserving honor for the Colorado Rockies' superstar third baseman.

    During his seven-year MLB career, Arenado has earned seven Gold Gloves, five All-Star nods and four Silver Slugger Awards.

    In 2019, he clubbed 41 homers and 118 RBI while notching career-best marks in batting average (.315) and on-base percentage (.379). Arenado's .980 fielding percentage was also a new personal best.

T-4. Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

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    Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

    2020 salary: $35 million

    Last year's top earner, Stephen Strasburg opened the offseason by signing a seven-year contract worth $35 million annually. The Washington Nationals had no choice but to pay that price, lest they immediately lose the World Series MVP.

    Strasburg dazzled throughout the 2019 playoffs, posting a 5-0 record over 36.1 innings. He struck out 47 batters and issued only four walks.

    That dominance followed a regular season during which Strasburg set career highs with 209 innings, 18 wins and 251 strikeouts.

T-4. Zack Greinke, Houston Astros

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    2020 salary: $35 million

    Four years ago, Zack Greinke joined the Arizona Diamondbacks on a six-year, $206.5 million contract that made him MLB's highest-paid player annually.

    When his effectiveness dipped from arguably MLB's best pitcher to merely a top-tier arm, the D-Backs searched for a way to unload Greinke's deal. The Astros came calling at the 2019 trade deadline, and he served as a valuable piece of their postseason run despite a forgettable start in the AL Division Series.

    Greinke, who went 8-1 with a 3.02 ERA in 10 regular-season starts for Houston, has two seasons remaining on his contract. He'll be the No. 2 arm behind Verlander in 2020.

3. Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    2020 salary: $35.9 million

    Despite missing a handful of starts in 2019, Max Scherzer secured his seventh straight top-five finish in Cy Young voting. He's worth every penny of his massive seven-year, $210 million contract.

    Over his five seasons with Washington, his ERA has never surpassed 3.00. Last year, Scherzer posted an NL-best 2.45 FIP while leading the NL with 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings. He also went 3-0 in the playoffs, helping the Nats win the World Series.

    Scherzer, like Greinke, will be a free agent following the 2021 season.

2. Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees

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    Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

    2020 salary: $36 million

    Not since Nolan Ryan in the 1970s had an American League pitcher racked up more than 315 strikeouts. Gerrit Cole snapped the streak in 2019, tallying 326 punchouts for the Astros.

    Along the way, Cole set an MLB record with a strikeout in 73 consecutive innings. That ridiculous streak smashed the 58-year Expansion Era record by 33 innings and guided him toward an AL-low 2.50 ERA and MLB-best 2.64 FIP.

    Cole parlayed the spectacular season into a nine-year, $324 million contract with the New York Yankees.

1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    2020 salary: $37.67 million

    Will a 12-year, $426.5 million contract be worth the price in 2030 when Trout is 39 years old?

    Don't know, don't care. He's already a legend.

    The 2012 AL Rookie of the Year just earned his third AL MVP honor and seventh Silver Slugger. In five other full seasons, Trout has finished second in MVP voting four times and fourth once. Entering his age-28 campaign, he's clubbed 285 homers and has a career on-base percentage of .419 and OPS of 1.000.

    Baseball often has bizarre Hall of Fame voting, but Trout is on track to merit the exceptionally rare unanimous election to Cooperstown.


    All contract information via Spotrac.

    Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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