5. Justin Steele: 2024 salary of $4 million
Justin Steele was one of the six players the Cubs reached avoided arbitration with in early January, when they agreed to a $4 million contract for 2024. This pay bump from the $770,000 rookie contract was well deserved after the 28-year-old lefty took a big step forward in his career last year. He led the team in innings pitched (173.1), strikeouts (176), and ERA (3.06) while vying for the National League Cy Young award into September.
Steele is the ace of this staff until further notice and his emergence is a testament to the Cubs' pitching development in recent years. Steele is looking like the first of many home-grown arms to become significant contributors at the big-league level with others like Javier Assad, Cade Horton, and Jordan Wicks right behind him.
As long as Steele keeps on this path, I'd expect his salary to rise even more next year.