Is your favorite team carrying a player who’s grossly overpaid for the performance he returns?
In these days of $200 million and higher team payrolls, grossly overpaying to get the guy you want isn’t unusual. But it is injurious to the team because the money overpaid to those less-productive players isn’t available to sign actual talent.
Here’s a look at the 25 most overpaid players in MLB in 2023. This ranking is based on each player’s salary, his WAR and the average salary and WAR of all MLB players at the position he plays.
The first step to determine who is overpaid is to group players by position. For the most part, groups consist of each team’s most used player at each position. (The grouping for starting pitchers includes any pitcher who has made at least 15 starts; if a team does not have three such starters, we’ve reached as far down as necessary to get three.)
Players are also included if they are receiving at least $10 million in salary this year regardless of whether they have played. At the catcher position, two players are included for each team unless a team’s primary catcher has caught at least 80 games.
Here are the average salaries and the average WARs at each position. These will become the basis for calculating who’s overpaid and by how much.
Position Avg. salary Avg. WAR
First Base $7.64 million 1.049
Second Base $4.976 million 1.348
Shortstop $9.560 million 1.459
Third Base $9.131 million 1.171
Left field $5.608 million 0.558
Center field $5.047 million 1.628
Right field $7.999 million 1.007
Catcher $3.359 million 0.624
DH $9.621 million 0.652
Starter $9.908 million 1.032
Closer $5.604 million 0.821
A word first about the salary and WAR averages. If it seems absurd to you that a team would spend more than $9.5 million on a DH who only produces two-thirds of a WAR, well, you’re probably right. What of it? We’re dealing here with the current average salary and production at each position. It may be stupid, but it’s real.
In simple terms all we’re doing is lumping all the money paid to all the front-liners at each position and redistributing it based on their performance relative to the positional averages.