NEW YORK – The average salary in the major leagues rose to $ 4.4 million on opening day, bolstered by a frenzy of free agent signings before and after the 99-day lockout, according to a study of baseball contracts by The Associated Press.
New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer set a season record of $ 43.3 million, topping the former brand established last year by Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer at $ 38 million. Scherzer earns more than all the current players on the Baltimore Orioles combined.
The average of $ 4,414,184 had risen 5.9% from $ 4,167,164 at the start of last season and just below the $ 4,451,508 record set in 2017 before the wage step that angered players under the employment contract that expired in December last year.
Major League Baseball projects opening day salaries at about $ 4.5 billion, an increase of nearly 10% from the previous high of about $ 4.1 billion.
This year’s average would have been higher if active shift schedules had not been extended from 26 to 28 to May 1 after the shortened spring training. If one calculates the added players that are at least $ 700,000 or close to it, the average would have been a record high $ 4.62 million.
In addition, this year’s final average will be boosted by the new employment contract’s $ 50 million bonus pool for low-paid players who are not yet eligible for arbitration. If you add that number and drop the added 60 players, the average would be $ 4.68 million.
The average salary drops over the course of a season as higher paid veterans are released and replaced by lower paid players.
The Dodgers top the major leagues by nearly $ 285 million, up from $ 241 million at the start of last season.
The Mets are number two with $ 266 million in their second season under owner Steven Cohen, up from $ 186 million last year and $ 154 million in 2019, the last full season under the Wilpon and Katz families.
The New York Yankees are in third place with nearly $ 237 million, followed by Philadelphia ($ 224 million) and San Diego and Boston ($ 212 million each).
World Series champion Atlanta is eighth with $ 184 million, and American League champion Houston is 10th with $ 174 million.
Oakland, which traded more stars after the lockout, is last at $ 48 million, down from $ 83 million last opening day and the Athletics’ lowest in an entire season since 2008.
Other low wages are Baltimore ($ 58 million), Cleveland ($ 60 million), Pittsburgh ($ 62 million) and Miami (just under $ 80 million).
The Orioles raised $ 38 million for their current players, with just over $ 20 million for the final season of the seven-year contract with first baseman Chris Davis, who retired after years of injury and three straight sub-.200 batting averages.
Scherzer was followed at the top of the payroll by Angels outfielder Mike Trout for $ 37.1 million, Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon for $ 36.6 million, Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole for $ 36 million, Minnesota shortstop Carlos Correa for $ 35.1 million and San Diego third baseman Manny Machado. to $ 34 million.
Thirteen players earn $ 30 million or more, 48 earn at least $ 20 million and 133 at least $ 10 million. More than half of the players, 514, earn at least $ 1 million.
After several years of expansion, the pay gap among players dropped slightly.
The 50 highest paid players receive 30.3% of salaries, a decrease from 33.4% at the beginning of last season, but still above the 28.6% in 2017. The 100 highest paid receive 48.9%, a decrease from 52.4% last year, but above the 42.5% in 2017.
Out of 975 players on the opening day’s active lists, injured lists, restricted list and death list, 461 (47%) had salaries below $ 1 million, up from 46% last year. The minimum was raised from $ 570,500 to $ 700,000; 57 earned minimum and 375 were under $ 730,000.
The median salary – the point where an even number of players are above and below – rose by $ 50,000 to $ 1.2 million, down from $ 1.4 million in 2019 and well below the record high of $ 1.65 million in early 2015 .
AP figures include salaries and proportionate shares of subscription bonuses and other guaranteed income. For some players, parts of deferred money are discounted to reflect current values. For the 23 players who remain eligible for the payroll broker, the midpoints of the player requests and team offers were used.
Luxury tax payments calculated by Major League Baseball are different by using average annual values of contracts on 40-man rosters plus about $ 18 million per season. hold for benefits and extended benefits and a 1/30 of the bonus pool before arbitration.