Comparing Salaries in Baseball — 1990 to Today

Darren Rovell, an ESPN Sports Business Reporter, tweeted out a graphic this morning, showing the highest paid players at each position 25 years ago in 1990:

I’m not sure how many beers you could have bought at the ball park for $21 million in 1990, but just 25 years ago, that would have filled your roster out with a team of All-Stars and future Hall of Famers. Baseball salaries have skyrocketed, due largely to international revenue growth and massive local cable network contracts. It’s reached a point where a mediocre starting pitcher like Rick Porcello commands a yearly salary almost equal to the roughly $21.4 million that would have gotten you six Hall of Fame players in 1990.

Wondering who cracks the highest paid players list in 2015? Well, wait no more. Below is an image of the highest cap hit players in the game today, as well as their annual cap hit number (via


Biggest cap room hit in 2015 (by position):

Starting Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers — $32,571,428

Catcher: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants — $17,277,777

First Base: Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies — $25,000,000

Second Base: Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners — $24,000,000

Shortstop: Jose Reyes, Toronto Blue Jays — $22,000,000

Third Base: David Wright, New York Mets — $20,000,000

Left Field: Carl Crawford, Los Angeles Dodgers — $21,357,142

Center Field: Jacoby Ellsbury, New York Yankees — $21,142,857

Right Field: Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals — $21,571,428

Designated Hitter: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees — $21,000,000

Relief Pitcher: Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies — $13,000,000

Of these players listed, five of them (Kershaw, Howard, Cano, Reyes, and Werth) make more than the entire 1990 highest paid team combined.

When taking a closer look at how much the salaries have changed in the game of baseball over the past 25 years, it is crazy to think that salaries have increased. When you can multiply any salary from the 1990 team by 10, you just about come close to the current salary number, let alone pass it. In some cases, the number still doesn’t come close, which shows that salaries have truly skyrocketed in this 25-year span.

The scary thing is that salaries continue to increase. It seems as if more $100+ million contracts are being dished out on a regular basis, and the game is starting to truly overpay some of its bright talents. At the current pace, players in 25 years could be making close to double what the current players in baseball are making, and it remains to be seen whether this current trend of dishing out huge loads of money to players will ever slow down.

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