Adjusted for inflation, buying power isn’t what it used to be in MLB

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 06: Yankee exhibit with Babe Ruth photo on display in the lobby for 'Bronx Bombers' Opening Night on Broadway at Circle in the Square Theatre on February 6, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 06: Yankee exhibit with Babe Ruth photo on display in the lobby for 'Bronx Bombers' Opening Night on Broadway at Circle in the Square Theatre on February 6, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage) /
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Alex Rodriguez in 2001. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Alex Rodriguez in 2001. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

The $20 million+ stratosphere

This discussion begins with not one landmark but two. Adjusted for inflation, the $20 million threshold — first reached in 2001 — equates to $37 million in today’s market.

In a sense, that $20 million threshold was first broken by Manny Ramirez, who in December of 2000 signed a massive 10-year deal with Boston that would direct $20 million his way as quickly as its third season.

Bu the first to actually cash a $20 million check was Alex Rodriguez, who beat Ramirez to that level by two years. In January of 2001, Rodriguez signed his famous 10-year, $252 million contract with the Texas Rangers, delivering $22 million A-Rod’s way in the first year (2001).

The Rangers only tolerated the enormity of that deal for three years before shipping the remainder of it to the Yankees, where Rodriguez finished his career.

When we are talking about $37 million, even in the modern game, the comparisons are limited to the financial elite. Only 15 players will earn even $30 million in 2023, and only eight will top $35 million.

Financially, the closest comp to what Rodriguez got in 2001 turns out to be exactly the player you’d probably first guess. That would be Mike Trout, who will get $37.116 million to play centerfield for the Angels.