Though fans rarely feel bad for Major League Baseball owners, the overblown contracts of stars past their primes might bring them close to a form of empathy. In most cases, fans’ scorn is directed toward the GM who offered the deal in the first place. Examples like the Ryan Howard contract extension may even lead fans to call for the GM’s head (it’s not just a Philly thing).
For every star not earning his keep, there are almost as many emerging studs playing for the league minimum salary. Team owners don’t have to pay these players arbitration money during their earliest years, which leaves young All Stars with nothing to do but wait for the payday down the line. In 2014, some of the game’s best performers are making around the MLB minimum. Here are five players who are delivering value well beyond their 2014 paychecks.
Salary information is from Spotrac.com. Stats quoted are current as of August 28, 2014.
5. Mike Trout, Angels – $1 million
Before Mike Trout’s six-year contract worth $144 million kicks in next season, the frontrunner for the AL MVP award will make $1 million in 2014. By many estimates, Trout was the player who delivered the most performance for his 2013 salary. There is a good chance he repeats that feat this season, though he has competition from the American League West. No matter what happens in the future, the Angels can be sure they got MVP-caliber work from the Melville Meteor at or near the league minimum for several years.