A lot of the discussion in baseball is relevant to what's happening in the leagues right now. For example, much of the current chatter has to do with the Cincinnati Reds and their narrow lead in the NL Central. Other talks have to do with Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs rookie first baseman who made his major league debut on June 26th.
Still, despite the right-now nature of most baseball stories, there is one that always comes up and never really goes away: Salaries. The annual figures that a player brings home are always the center of much contention. Some fans feel that an overpaid player can bring down his team if his salary takes up too much of the team's overall payroll. Another subset of fans simply believes that players are overpaid in general. Being one of the few major sports not to have a salary cap, baseball might be the most polarizing sport of all for salary discussions. With discussions about player pay in mind, these are the ten highest-paid players in the 2012 MLB season.
1. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees - $30,000,000: The first player to make the list is New York Yankees' third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who is set to make $30 million in 2012. Considering all of his accomplishments during his career, it's no surprise that A-Rod is bringing home such large paychecks. However, it's amazing just how much more he makes than his peers: His 2012 contract will pay him 20 percent more than the next-highest paid player.
2. Vernon Wells, Los Angeles Angels - $24,187,500: When most people think of salaries for the Angels, they probably think immediately of Albert Pujols. Surprisingly, not only is Pujols not on this list, but he's also not even the highest-paid player on his own team. That honor belongs to outfielder Vernon Wells. To be fair, though, Wells' contract was originally inked when he was with the Blue Jays; he went to the Angels in a trade.
3. Johan Santana, New York Mets - $23,145,011: The Mets ace comes in third overall on this list. His $23 million payday in 2012 makes him the highest-paid pitcher in all of baseball. In his first season back since missing all of 2011 with a torn anterior capsule, Mets fans are hopeful that Santana returns to form.
4. Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees - $23,125,000: After successful seasons with the Rangers, Braves and Angels, Mark Teixeira got a huge payday. He inked an eight-year contract in December of 2008, courtesy of the New York Yankees. This year marks the fourth year of that contract.
5. Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers - $23,000,000: Fielder is in the first year of a nine-year contract. During the course of the contract, he'll make $214 million. Fielder is having a strong season so far, but only time will tell if the contract was a good move by the Tigers.
6. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins - $23,000,000: After a rough 2011 campaign, Joe Mauer has looked to rebound in 2012. Regardless of what his performance looks like, he's going to get paid, and he's going to get paid for a long time - his current contract still has five years left on it after this season.
7. CC Sabathia, New York Yankees - $23,000,000: The third Yankee to crack the top-ten list is CC Sabathia. Sabathia has been with the Yankees for four seasons now, and has proven to be worth the money they're giving him. His contract reflects that, as he is currently the second-highest paid pitcher in baseball.
8. Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox - $23,857,142: With more than 1,000 career hits and four All-Star appearances, it seems as though Boston traded for the right guy back in 2010. He is the highest-paid member of the Red Sox club.
9. Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies - $21,500,000: He played for the Phillies in 2009 before being traded away to the Mariners and then Rangers. Apparently, he made Philadelphia recognize what they were missing during this time. They scooped Lee up in free agency, making him the third pitcher to place in the top ten for salaries during the 2012 season.
10. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers - $21,000,000: Last but not least on the list is Miguel Cabrera. His 2012 batting average is .304, which is slightly below his career mark. He has the second-most hits in the American League, and is getting compensated nicely for it.
Salaries are a topic of much discussion in baseball. Whether the sport needs to replace the luxury tax system with a salary cap has been met with great arguments from both sides. Any of the guys on this list, though, would likely rule in favor of the luxury tax system.
About the Author: Don Phan is an avid baseball fan and collects baseball memorabilia on the side. His top baseball moment is sitting in the PNC Suites at Wrigley Field in 2012 with free food and drinks all game long.
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