Not surprisingly, the Yankees dominate the list of highest-paid baseball players. With more World Series titles than anyone and a payroll
Alex Rodriguez, the game’s biggest star, arrived on its biggest stage in 2004 through a trade from the Texas Rangers to the New York Yankees.
Playing under the bright lights of the New York media and near Madison
Avenue, A-Rod was expected to become a marketing superstar. He had
already inked deals with the likes of Pepsi, Kraft Foods and
Colgate-Palmolive, but his endorsement portfolio was hardly robust.
With the Yankees, Rodriguez has won two MVP Awards, a World Series
and slugged 284 home runs, but sponsorship deals continue to elude him.
“Despite his noteworthy accomplishments on the field, he hasn’t
succeeded in resonating off if it because he lacks a measure of
authenticity sought by sponsors and, ultimately, consumers,” says David
Carter, executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute. “This
difficulty in connecting with fans and consumers has weighed heavily on
his ability to secure major endorsements.”
A-Rod’s 2009 confession of using a “banned substance”
likely ensures that sponsors will never fully embrace him. He has a
lucrative deal with Nike and smaller ones with the likes of Rawlings,
Topps and Vita Coca that earn him an estimated $2 million annually,
including memorabilia income.
In Pictures: Baseball’s highest-paid players
Even with a limited endorsement portfolio, Rodriguez remains
baseball’s top-earning player with combined on and off the field income
expected to hit $32 million in 2012. Credit the 10-year, $275 million
contract extension he signed with the Yankees in 2007. The deal pays him
$30 million this year, including a $1 million bonus paid in January.
A-Rod’s 2012 income will soar by another $6 million if hits 31 home
runs. His contract includes a $30 million marketing agreement with the
Yankees that gets triggered in five installments worth $6 million, each
based on career home run thresholds. The first mark is 660 home runs,
which is the career total of Willie Mays and ranks fourth all-time. The
Yankees hoped to capitalize on A-Rod’s march to the home run record by
selling merchandise and sponsorships around it. Of course, the marketing
pact was inked before his confession, which taints his achievements in
the eyes of the public.