On Tuesday, July 13, the best of the pro baseball best will gather at Coors Field in Denver for the 91st annual Midsummer Classic MLB All-Star Game. The game starts at 5:30 p.m. Mountain Time, but if you’re not in Denver, you can catch the action on Fox.
The players compete for the sake of competing and for bragging rights, but in many cases, there’s a financial incentive, as well. Some players have the potential to win hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses, which are built into their contracts for things like winning a Gold Glove, being named MVP or being selected for the All-Star Game.
Since those selected are at the tippy top of the MLB pyramid, they tend to be the biggest stars with the biggest paychecks anyway — and that’s nothing new. Almost all of the richest living MLB players were All-Stars at one point or another in their careers. Here’s a look at the wealthiest All-Stars from the present day and years past as the 2021 baseball season crosses the halfway point.
The man with history’s greatest cut fastball, Hall of Fame Yankee pitcher Mariano Rivera played his 13th and final All-Star Game in 2013. He was named the game’s MVP. The greatest playoff closer of all time — although Goose Gossage die-hards will always make noise on that point — Rivera saved 42 games in 96 postseason appearances. Over the course of his 19-year career, he struck out 1,173 batters in 1,283.2 innings pitched, won five World Series and earned nearly $170 million on the mound.
Ken Griffey Jr.
Known as “The Natural,” Hall of Fame outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. entered the league under the pressure of intense expectations when the Mariners selected him with the first overall pick of the 1987 draft. Over the next 22 years, the left-hander lived up to those expectations and then some with 13 trips to the All-Star Game — including one Game MVP — 10 Gold Gloves, seven Silver Slugger Awards, a career batting average of .284 and 630 home runs. Over the course of his career, he earned about $161.63 million in salary.
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Gary Sheffield earned $168 million over the course of his sprawling MLB career, which spanned both leagues, eight teams, 22 seasons and stints at almost all positions in both the infield and the outfield, not to mention designated hitter. A prolific home run hitter, Sheffield is a member of the 500 Club who finished his career with a .292 batting average and 1,676 RBIs. A nine-time All-Star, Sheffield won a Batting Title, five Silver Slugger Awards and the 1997 World Series.
Career Mariner Felix Hernandez is currently a free agent. But when the 35-year-old, 15-year MLB veteran opted out of a deal with Baltimore in March, it looked more and more likely that the greatest pitcher in Seattle history had made his last trip to the mound, according to CBS Sports. The potential Hall of Famer hasn’t thrown a pitch in an MLB game since September 2019. A Cy Young Award winner and a six-time All-Star, Hernandez earned more than $221.33 million over the course of his career.
On March 24, 2001, a dove with impossibly bad timing proved the power behind the infamous fastball of the man known as “the Big Unit.” Randy Johson — towering at 6-foot-10, the tallest player in MLB history — exploded the unfortunate bird in mid-air when it crossed the path of one of his pitches during live play in a televised game.
A 10-time All-Star, the Hall of Fame pitcher won five Cy Young Awards, four ERA Titles, the Triple Crown and was named Series MVP when he won the World Series the same year he turned a dove into a cloud of feathers. He earned $175.3 million on the mound along with plenty of off-field endorsement deals. After baseball, the Big Unit reinvented himself as a wildlife photographer. His website’s logo is a dead bird.
Astros pitcher Justin Verlander is still in the league after 16 seasons, and in that time, he’s made eight visits to the All-Star Game. Voted Rookie of the Year his debut season, the right-hander has won the Cy Young Award twice, the ERA Title, the Triple Crown, League MVP and the World Series. His efforts have earned him nearly $275 million in salary alone. Not only is he one of the most marketable players in the league, but he’s currently riding out a two-year, $66 million contract that gives him the richest annual salary of any pitcher in baseball history.
In June, Adrián Beltré was inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame — and for good reason. A four-time All-Star, he is the greatest third baseman in Rangers history and it’s easy to make an argument that he’s the greatest of all time, period. That’s all thanks to five Gold Gloves, two Platinum Gloves and four Silver Slugger Awards. When he becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2024, he’ll almost certainly be voted on the first ballot. During his career, Beltré earned more than $220 million in salary alone.
Although his 15-year career in the MLB ended in 2018, Adrian Gonzalez currently plays in the Mexican League for the Mariachis de Guadalajara — a move he hopes will help fulfill his goal of representing Mexico in the Olympics. Stateside, he won four Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers and went to the All-Star game five times. He earned nearly $180 million in salary along the way.
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With 762 homers to his name, Barry Bonds owns the most sacred title in all of baseball and perhaps in all of sports: the all-time home run king — but that title is hardly undisputed. As controversial as he is accomplished, Bonds’ title will forever have an asterisk — Bonds, after all, was the most prominent player in the MLB steroid scandal that engulfed his career.
A 14-time All-Star, Bonds won 12 Silver Slugger Awards, two Batting Titles, eight Gold Gloves and was named MVP seven times. He took home nearly $193 million in salary during his 22 seasons.
Twins great Joe Mauer played in six All-Star Games, was named League MVP, won three Gold Gloves, three Batting Titles, and five Silver Slugger Awards. During his 14 seasons behind the plate and on first base, he earned $223.28 million in salary. He was one of the highest-paid athletes of any sport during his final year in the league in 2018, according to Forbes, thanks to an eight-year, $184 million contract extension that paid him $23 million a year through the end of his career.
Career Brave Chipper Jones spent 19 years in the league between 1993-2012, winning the World Series in 1995. He went to the All-Star game eight times, was league MVP and won a Batting Title and two Silver Slugger Awards. No National League switch-hitter has ever hit more home runs than Jones’ 468 and no third-baseman has ever batted in more runs. An everyman MLB hero, Jones blasted the players who held out for more money in 2020 as millions of regular Americans were out of work.
In 2012, Joey Votto signed a 12-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds worth $251.5 million with $225 million guaranteed. The largest guaranteed contract in MLB history, the deal crushed the $116.5 million, nine-year deal that Ken Griffey Jr. signed in 2000 to become the biggest contract in franchise history by far. It will pay the six-time All-Star first baseman $22.5 million a year through 2024 when the Gold Glove and MVP winner will turn 41.
One of the greatest hitters ever to play the game, outfielder Manny Ramirez spent 19 years in the MLB and can let his stats do the talking. A powerful home run hitter, Ramirez is a member of the elite 500 Club and he finished his career with a .312 batting average. He was chosen for an impressive 12 All-Star Games — equally impressive is the $234.18 million he earned during his time in the league. A nine-time Silver Slugger, Ramirez won two World Series, including one Game MVP.
In 2015, pitcher Zack Greinke wowed the sports world when he signed a six-year, $206.5 million deal that paid him a record-breaking $34.4 million average yearly salary. Although that has since been eclipsed, it’s still among the top five richest contracts in baseball. A six-time Gold Glove winner, a two-time Silver Slugger and a Cy Young Award winner, Greinke has been to six All-Star Games.
First baseman Ryan Howard took three trips to the All-Star game during his 13-year career. A Silver Slugger, MVP and Rookie of the Year, the left-hander won the World Series in 2008. A career Phillies star, he earned $190.77 million on the field alone during the course of his 13-year career. He was embroiled in a series of ugly and public lawsuits in the early 2010s that dragged on for years and involved immediate family members, with Howard, his parents and brother filing suits and countersuits over Howard’s finances.
Despite entering the league in 2003, 38-year-old Miguel Cabrera is still being paid like he’s in his prime. Detroit fans howled in 2014 when the Tigers agreed to extend the first baseman’s contract through 2023 with two more optional years depending on his performance — despite still having two years left on his previous contract.
For a team struggling with payroll issues, a commitment of 10 years and $292 million to an aging star was a head-scratching decision. Predictably, the 11-time All-Star’s production dropped and his contract is now a burden to a franchise that is attempting to rebuild. A two-time MVP, Cabrera was one of the best hitters in the game in his prime, winning seven Silver Slugger Awards, four Batting Titles and the Triple Crown.
After joining the league in 2001, Albert Pujols spent more than a decade with the Cardinals and a decade with the Angels — and he’s still on first base to this day, with the Dodgers. Today, the two-time World Series champ, three-time MVP and 10-time All-Star is pulling in less than a half-million dollars for a one-year contract before he becomes a free agent in 2022. Don’t feel bad for Pujols, however — his current salary is an anomaly. He earned between $15 million and $30 million a year for most of his career for total on-field earnings of more than $339 million.
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Ichiro Suzuki entered the league in 2001, just like Pujols, and was named Rookie of the Year in his debut season. He spent most of his career on the Mariners but also did stints on the Yankees and Marlins. He would go on to 10 All-Star Games, including one where he was named Game MVP. He was also named League MVP, won 10 Gold Gloves, two Batting Titles and three Silver Slugger Awards. His efforts earned him nearly $169 million over the course of his 19-year career, which ended in 2019.
Short stop Derek Jeter stands with Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth as one of the most beloved and accomplished Yankee Hall of Famers of all time. He spent his entire 20-year career in pinstripes and brought home five of the franchise’s league-leading 27 World Series championships. He earned more than $266 million over the course of his career, which included five Silver Slugger Awards, Rookie of the Year, World Series MVP and an incredible 14 trips to the All-Star Game.
In 2000, Alex Rodriguez signed a 10-year, $252 million deal with the Texas Rangers that dwarfed all contracts that came before and ushered in the modern era of mega-bucks baseball. He earned his cash on the field in Texas, then the Yankees signed him to a new deal — this time for $275 million — in 2007 after convincing him to opt out of his old contract and move to New York. In total, A-Rod earned more than $455 million over the course of his career, which included three MVPs, a World Series win, 10 Silver Slugger Awards, two Gold Gloves, a Batting Title and an incredible 14 trips to the All-Star game.
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All salary information comes from Spotrac and all net worth information comes from Celebrity Net Worth, and is accurate as of July 12, 2021.