MLB players are rarely paid huge dollars until well into their careers, which results in some "underpaid" young players and extremely bloated contracts for veterans. These are the most overpaid and underpaid players by position in the 2023 season.
Strider has been a revelation for the Braves since he joined the rotation in 2022. He finished his rookie campaign with a 2.67 ERA over 131.2 innings and 200 strikeouts. His strikeout rate has gone even higher early in 2023, with a league-high 15.1 K/9 and 2.97 over his first 10 starts. The right-hander signed a six-year, $75 million contract with the Braves, but he's making only $1 million this season.
Bad luck with injuries has made Strasburg's seven-year, $245 million contract that started in 2020 one of the worst in recent memory. He's toed the rubber only eight times since the start of the contract and has yet to pitch in 2023 due to a recurrence of arm injuries. Strasburg is still due $35 million each season through 2026.
Cano is a legitimate candidate for AL Rookie of the Year with his dominance since being promoted by the Orioles. Through 21 appearances, Cano has allowed only 12 baserunners and two earned runs in 26.2 innings with 29 strikeouts. The 29-year-old is earning the league minimum despite his success.
Pomeranz signed a four-year, $34 million contract with the Padres in 2020, but he last pitched in the majors in 2021. He's been nursing arm issues since then and recently underwent a cleanup procedure on his elbow. It remains to be seen if Pomeranz will pitch before his contract expires, but he's being paid $10 million this season.
Bautista was promoted to closer last season after the O's traded Jorge Lopez at the trade deadline, and he hasn't looked back. The big right-hander finished last season with a 2.19 ERA and 15 saves, and he's recorded 12 saves with a 1.44 ERA and 50 strikeouts over his first 25 innings this year. Like teammate Yennier Cano, Bautista is drawing the league minimum, just over $700,000.
The Diamondbacks signed Melancon to closer last year but have been left in the lurch for most of his two-year contract due to injuries and ineffectiveness. He recorded 18 saves with a 4.66 ERA last season, but has yet to pitch this year due to a shoulder injury. The veteran is still being paid $6 million this season, with a $2 million buyout on his contract this offseason.
The first overall pick in the 2019 draft, Rutschman was awarded a large signing bonus but now makes the minimum salary in MLB. He emerged as an elite catcher immediately upon his promotion last year, finishing second in the AL Rookie of the Year vote with an .806 OPS and 5.2 WAR. The contribution has been even better early this year, with an .843 OPS through 229 plate appearances and continued great defense behind the plate.
Baltimore added McCann via trade from the Mets in the offseason, with New York agreeing to paid a significant portion of the two years and $24 million-plus remaining on his contract. With McCann continuing to struggle at the plate this season, he might not last until the end of the deal. After producing a .538 OPS last season, McCann was hitting .182 with a .509 OPS in his first 68 plate appearances this year. He's set to make over $12 million.
The "Pasquatch" has quickly become a fan favorite in Kansas City and has shown great ability at the plate with an .832 OPS in his rookie campaign and .818 OPS in his first 51 games in 2023. He's set to make the league minimum salary around $700,000 this year.
Votto hasn't played this season following shoulder surgery, but he also struggled at the plate last season with a .689 OPS in 91 games. The six-time All-Star is in the final year of his contract, making $25 million.
Purchased from the Yankees early in the 2021 season, Estrada has transformed into an excellent second baseman in San Francisco. He had a .722 OPS with solid defense in his first year as a regular in 2022, but has taken his game to another level this year, hitting .301-6-17 with 13 stolen bases in his first 47 games. Estrada is earning only $2.25 million in 2023.
Seattle is still hoping for Wong to get on track this season after trading for him from Milwaukee, but the early returns haven't been good. He hit only .167 with a .455 OPS in his first 35 games, and has lost playing time to rookie Jose Caballero. Wong is in the final season of a three-year contract, making $10 million in 2023.
A former prized prospect, Jung overcame shoulder surgery late last season and has been on a tear early in 2023. He hit .282-11-35 through his first 47 games and is earning the league minimum salary.
The Angels haven't been strangers to bad contracts, and Rendon is the most recent example. He signed a seven-year, $245 million contract in 2020 but hasn't performed up to par. Since signing the deal, Rendon has failed to play 60 games in a season. He hit .301-1-20 in 30 games this season, but has shown minimal power and missed more time to injury. The Angels are stuck with Rendon through 2026, as he earns over $38.5 million each remaining season.
The former top prospect in MLB, Franco is showing why early this season after missing much of 2022 to injury. He's among the league WAR leaders, with an .846 OPS and great defense through 51 games played. Franco signed an 11-year, $182 million contract that started last season, but he's making less than $2.5 million this season.
Crawford had a career resurgence in 2021, and was rewarded with a two-year, $32 million contract extension that paid him equally in 2022 and 2023. Knee problems have hindered Crawford's play since then, as he played only 118 games with a .652 OPS last season. The results have been even worst early this year, hitting .172-4-12 with a .575 OPS through 29 games played.
Carroll was a hyped prospect before his promotion late last season and has performed admirably at the plate and in the field. The speedy outfielder has an .880 OPS with seven home runs and 14 stolen bases through 48 games this season. He signed an eight-year, $111 million contract before this season, but will make just over $1.6 million in 2023.
Houston curiously gave Brantley a one-year, $12 million contract extension during the offseason despite shoulder surgery. The accomplished hitter has yet to play a game in the majors this year after playing only 64 games last season.
The fifth overall pick in the 2019 amateur draft, Greene is having a breakout campaign. The Tigers outfielder hit .295-5-18 with five stolen bases in his first 48 games this season. Greene will earn the league minimum of about $730,000 this season.
Margot is a rare recent example of an overpaid player, playing a part-time role and hitting only .244-2-13 with six steals and a .663 OPS in his first 41 games this season. The outfielder is making $7 million this season, and will be paid $10 million next year.
Lowe struggled in his rookie season as a former top prospect, but had more than made up for it this season. The former first-round pick is making the league minimum of about $720,000 but hitting .306-11-36 with 10 steals in 42 games.
Myers was a rare free agent signing by the Reds in the offseason, but that addition has backfired early this year. He veteran has started the season hitting only .189-3-12 with a .541 OPS in 37 games, but is set to earn $7.5 million.
Gorman had his ups and downs in his rookie season with the Cardinals, but the former top prospect has turned it on in his sophomore campaign. He hit .289-13-40 with an NL-leading .981 OPS through 47 games, but is making the minimum salary of nearly $730,000.
Cabrera is almost assuredly a first-ballot Hall of Famer as arguably the best hitter of his generation, but the last few seasons have been a drag in Detroit. The DH has taken his struggles to a new level this season, hitting only .170/.255/.205 in 98 plate appearances early in the year. He's in the final year of his contract, drawing $32 million.