Listing the 25 most overpaid MLB players in 2023, from future Hall of Famers to surprise names

Jul 25, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Los Angeles Angles center fielder Mike Trout (27) sits in dugout in the second inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 25, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Los Angeles Angles center fielder Mike Trout (27) sits in dugout in the second inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Joey Votto. Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Joey Votto. Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports /

17. Joey Votto, first base, Cincinnati Reds

Votto is in the final season of a 10-year deal signed prior to the 2014 campaign which, by year’s end, will have paid him $225 million to play first base for the Reds. He is every bit as much the face of the franchise  today that Barry Larkin was before Votto and Joe Morgan or Johnny Bench before Larkin.

But from the standpoint of on-field contribution, Votto isn’t earning his keep this year.

That keep amounts to $25 million for this season. Votto has spent most of it on the injured list, watching as the young Reds challenged for the NL Central Division title. Activated in mid-June, he’s hitting .181 in 28 games, sharing time with one of the team’s young guns, Spencer Steer.

As noted in the entry regarding Abreu, the average qualified first baseman this season earns $7.64 million and returns 1.049 WAR in value for that pay. In a normal season, 1.049 WAR would be child’s play for Votto, whose value surpassed 3.0 WAR 11 times between 2008 and 2021.

But he slowed up in 2022, and 2023 has been worse, to this point amounting to a barely measurable 0.2 WAR. The words ‘Votto’ and ‘liability’ don’t’ fit well together, but that’s the reality. To this point, Votto is being overpaid in the amount of $23.542 million, or all but about $1.45 million of his $25 million salary.