Detroit’s professional sports teams have certainly been lacking in success the past 10 years. But, that doesn’t mean the players aren’t well compensated.
Currently, Detroit’s highest-paid athletes sit near the top of the list for their respective sports.
When breaking down the top five highest-paid athletes in Detroit, one group you won’t find is the Detroit Red Wings.
Their highest-paid player Andrew Copp ($5.5 million) ranks 21st in Detroit currently.
In the latest top five, the Detroit Lions, Tigers and Pistons are all represented.
Salary information courtesy of Spotrac.
Highest paid Detroit athlete: Miguel Cabrera, $32 million
- Base Salary: $32 million
Miguel Cabrera has long been one of the highest-paid players in baseball.
Back in 2014, the Tigers gave Cabrera an 8-year contract extension worth $248 million that was tacked on to $44 million still owed over two seasons.
As we approach the 2023 MLB season, Cabrera is slated to make $32 million from the Tigers. He has announced his retirement following the season despite having two years remaining on the contract following the season.
The 39-year-old Cabrera certainly played up to his salary in his earlier days. He won the Triple Crown in 2012 with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI.
However, his past five seasons have seen him combine for just 45 home runs.
Now relegated to a designated hitter, Cabrera’s Hall of Fame career includes 507 career home runs, 3,088 career hits and 1,847 career RBI.
Cabrera steps into the 2023 season tied as the 12th-highest paid player in MLB alongside Manny Machado and Giancarlo Stanton.
Second highest paid Detroit athlete: Jared Goff, $31.15 million
- Base Salary: $10.65 million
- Roster Bonus: $15.5 million
- Other Bonuses: $5 million
Just concluding his second year as quarterback of the Detroit Lions, Jared Goff just missed being the highest-paid pro athlete in Detroit.
Goff was traded to the Lions on March 18, 2021, along with a handful of draft picks in exchange for Matthew Stafford.
Goff signed a 4-year contract extension with the Rams in 2019 worth $134 million, including $110 million in guaranteed money. At that time, it was a new NFL record for most guaranteed money. That contract will run out after the 2024 NFL season.
The 28-year-old quarterback made $31.15 million this past season and will make $30.65 million next season. Entering the 2022 season, Goff was the 11th highest-paid QB in the NFL.
Goff had one of the best seasons of his career in 2022. He threw for 4,438 yards with 29 touchdowns and just seven interceptions while leading the Lions to a 9-8 record.
While that wasn’t good enough to make the playoffs, it was a great season for Lions bettors at Michigan sportsbooks, as they were 12-5 against the spread.
Third highest paid Detroit athlete: Javier Baez, $22 million
- Base Salary: $22 million
Javier Baez lands a distant third behind Cabrera and Goff.
He’s probably not drawing too many cheers for his contract right now either.
In December of 2021, the Tigers signed Baez to a 6-year, $140 million contract. He steps into 2023 making his $22 million as part of the second year of the deal.
The 30-year-old shortstop was underwhelming in his first year with the Tigers.
Appearing in 144 games, Baez hit just .238 with only 17 home runs and 67 RBI. He struck out 147 times with just 26 walks. Baez also made a career-high 26 errors.
Adding to the difficulties was Detroit finishing 66-96 after coming into the season with expectations to compete for a playoff spot.
Baez’s contract will run out following the 2027 season. He is the 38th-highest paid player in baseball coming into the 2023 season.
Fourth highest paid Detroit athlete: Bojan Bogdanovic, $19.55 million
- Base Salary: $19.343 million
- Incentives: $207K
The 2022-23 Detroit Pistons haven’t had a lot to be happy about.
However, the acquisition of Bojan Bogdanovic has been a positive.
The 33-year-old veteran was traded to the Pistons this past September in exchange for Kelly Olynyk, Saben Lee and cash considerations.
He was in the midst of a 4-year, $73 million contract that he signed with the Utah Jazz following the 2018-19 season. However, the Pistons gave him a 2-year, $39.1 million extension in October that ties the contract through the 2024-25 season.
The small forward is leading Detroit this season in scoring with 21.2 points per game. He’s also shooting 41.5% from 3-point land and 48.7% from the field.
With 2021 No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham out for the season with an injury, Detroit sits near the cellar of the league this season. The Pistons are just 12-35, which is the third-lowest win total in the NBA.
Bogdanovic entered the season tied for 65th among the highest-paid players in the entire NBA.
Fifth highest paid Detroit athlete: Romeo Okwara, $14.5 million
- Base Salary: $11 million
- Signing Bonus: $3.5 million
The injury-plagued edge rusher, Romeo Okwara, just narrowly beat out starting left tackle Taylor Decker ($14.4 million) for the fifth spot on the list.
In March of 2021, Okwara was signed to a 3-year, $39 million contract extension with the Lions. That was coming off a 10-sack season in 2020.
The first year of the extension was this season, as the contract will run through the 2024 season.
Since signing the extension, Okwara has appeared in just nine games the past two seasons due to an Achilles tear early in the 2021 season. The 27-year-old has three sacks over the nine games.
In the 2022 season, Okwara was the 46th-highest paid player in the NFL in terms of cap hit.
Photo credits: Miguel Cabrera – Carlos Osorio / Associated Press; Jared Goff – Matt Lutdke / Associated Press; Javier Baez – Jose Juarez / Associated Press; Bojan Bogdanovic – Jeff Chiu / Associated Press; Romeo Okwara – Adam Hunger / Associated Press.