Perhaps more than any major professional sport, baseball is experiencing a youth movement. The Nationals’ Bryce Harper and the Angels’ Mike Trout each have earned MVP awards before age 24, but they’re not alone in bearing the weight of baseball’s future. Kris Bryant, Jose Fernandez, Xander Bogaerts, Noah Syndergaard and Manny Machado are all considered to be among the game’s elite without having celebrated their 25th birthday.
Many of these guys are so young they’re still on their first big league contracts and outperforming those contracts. Similarly, they’re just starting to break through in the endorsement game. Of course, players like Trout, Harper and Bryant can be seen front-and-center on ads for major shoe companies, but the details of their deals are not disclosed and therefore they’re not on Forbes highest-paid athletes list or on the Opendorse Top 100.
While it’s common for top athlete endorsers to be veterans in their respective leagues, baseball will see a changing-of-the-guard in the near future. It’s likely that the MLB’s top endorsers will soon be surpassed by young, fresh faces.
David Ortiz, for example, tops the list despite having announced that the 2016 season will be his last. Albert Pujols has seen a swift and drastic decline in production, registering a WAR at 0.0 this season. Joe Mauer, a former MVP, three-time batting champion and .310 lifetime hitter has not batted above .280 during the past three seasons. Still, all three are pulling in serious dough in endorsements.
As guys like Harper, Trout and Bryant continue to put up gaudy numbers and win awards, they’ll surely sign mega deals for their performances on the field and their marketability off it. Until then, baseball’s endorsement elites are veteran group.
Here’s a closer look at some of the players who made the list:
DAVID ORTIZ | MLB | BOSTON RED SOX
YEARLY ENDORSEMENT EARNINGS: $6,000,000
Twitter Followers: 986,000
Opendorse Estimated Cost Per Tweet: $5,792
Notable Endorsement Deals: Dunkin’ Donuts | Fanatics | Buffalo Wild Wings | MasterCard | New Balance | JetBlue | Coca-Cola
David Ortiz is hangin’ em up after the 2016 season but has shown that he can still swing the stick with the best. He’s suiting up in the All Star game for the 10th time tonight and has led the BoSox to three World Series titles, including breaking the curse in 2004. Brands love his big smile and lovable persona and Big Papi has embraced his celebrity in Beantown. He boasts deals with Coca-Cola, Buffalo Wild Wings, New Balance and many other top brands. He starred in this Dunkin’ Donuts spot alongside fellow Boston superstar Rob Gronkowski.
CLAYTON KERSHAW | MLB | LOS ANGELES DODGERS
YEARLY ENDORSEMENT EARNINGS: $800,000
Twitter Followers: 318,000
Opendorse Estimated Cost Per Tweet: $1,721
Notable Endorsement Deals: Acura | Topps | Fantasy Draft | Art of the Game | Subway | Under Armour | Wilson
It’s probably safe to say there hasn’t been a better pitcher in baseball over the past five seasons than Clayton Kershaw. The Dallas-native has netted three Cy Young awards during that span and is the clear frontrunner to secure his fourth in six seasons. Kershaw penned the richest deal for a pitcher in 2014, a $215M deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In just one season, Kershaw’s income went from $4M to $30M which help fund his diet of Subway and fastballs.
JUSTIN VERLANDER | MLB | DETROIT TIGERS
YEARLY ENDORSEMENT EARNINGS: $600,000
Twitter Followers: 730,000
Opendorse Estimated Cost Per Tweet: $3,999
Notable Endorsement Deals: Rawlings | Under Armour
He’s no longer pounding the zone with 102-mph heaters, but Verlander is still an effective hurler for the Tigers. He’s got the fourth-most wins among active pitchers and has a Cy Young and an MVP award from his historic 2011 season. He’s winning off the field, too, with bigtime endorsement deals from retail giants Rawlings and Under Armour, as well as an engagement to Kate Upton.