Mike Trout signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday. Though it’s a prelude to a massive extension that could make him the highest-paid player in the game and the highest-ever deal for a player not yet eligible for arbitration, Trout’s $1 million still means the best player in the game will be making less than 13 members of his own team, including Kevin Jepsen, a 28-year-old reliever who threw 36 innings in 2013 with a 4.50 ERA.
Which other athletes in sports are vastly underpaid, whether through restrictions (like Trout) or circumstance or anything in between? Our list is below. (All figures for MLB, NBA and NHL are for current season. NFL totals are from 2013.)
5. Russell Wilson/Richard Sherman — Seattle Seahawks — $500,000/$550,000
Both players are still on their lower-round rookie deals. Wilson won’t be eligible for an extension until after next season, but Sherman hits free agency in 2015 and he’ll be due a raise quite soon. With Earl Thomas also in need of a new contract after next season, things will get complicated for Seahawks management.
4. P.K. Subban — Montreal Canadian — $3.75 million
The Canadians decided to sign Subban to a bridge deal instead of a long extension. They may have to pay for it after this season.
3. Tom Brady — New England Patriots — $13.8 million
Tom Terrific makes $4 million less than Matthew Stafford and about the same as Sam Bradford.
2. Jimmy Graham — New Orleans Saints — $825,000
Graham received less than one million for being the most dominant tight end in the game. Now he’s up for a new contract. If he and the Saints can’t agree and the team is forced to franchise him, expect a debate about what constitutes a wide receiver and a tight end.
1. LeBron James — Miami Heat — $19 million