AP Exclusive: Average MLB salary up 5.9% after lockdown | Radio WGN 720

NEW YORK (AP) — The average major league salary rebounded to $4.4 million on opening day, spurred by a frenzy of free agent signings before and after the 99-day lockdown, according to a report. study of baseball contracts by the Associated Press.

New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer set a season high of $43.3 million, surpassing the previous mark set last year by Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer of $38 million. Scherzer earns more than all current Baltimore Orioles players combined.

The average of $4,414,184 was up 5.9% from the $4,167,164 at the start of last season and just below the record of $4,451,508 set in 2017, before the drop in wages that took place. angered the players during the employment contract which expired last December.

Major League Baseball is forecasting an opening day payroll of about $4.5 billion, up nearly 10% from the previous high of about $4.1 billion.

This year’s average would have been higher had the active rosters not been expanded from 26 to 28 until May 1 after the shortened spring training. Excluding additional players who are at or near the $700,000 minimum, the average would have been a record $4.62 million.

Additionally, this year’s final average will be bolstered by the new labor contract’s $50 million bonus pool for the lowest paid players who are not yet eligible for arbitration. Adding that number and removing the extra 60 players, the average would be $4.68 million.

The average salary decreases over the course of a season as higher paid veterans are released and replaced with lower paid players.

The Los Angeles Dodgers lead the major leagues with nearly $285 million, up from $241 million at the start of last season.

The Mets are second 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 third with just under $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 AL champion Houston is 10th with $174 million.

Oakland, which traded multiple stars after the lockdown, is last at $48 million, down from $83 million on the last opening day and the Athletics’ lowest for a full season since 2008.

Other low payrolls are Baltimore ($58 million), Pittsburgh ($59 million), Cleveland ($60 million) and Miami (just under $80 million).

The Orioles have totaled $38 million for their current players, with just over $20 million for the final season of first baseman Chris Davis’ seven-year contract, who retired after years of injuries and three consecutive batting averages below .200.

Scherzer was followed at the top of the salary list by Angels outfielder Mike Trout at $37.1 million, Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon at $36.6 million, Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole at $36 million. Minnesota shortstop Carlos Correa at $35.1 million and San Diego third baseman Manny Machado at $34 million.

Thirteen players earn $30 million or more, 48 earn at least $20 million, and 133 earn at least $10 million. More than half of the players, 514, earn at least $1 million.

After several years of widening, wage bill gaps between players have narrowed slightly.

The 50 highest-paid players receive 30.3% of wages, up from 33.4% at the start of last season but still above 28.6% in 2017. The 100 highest-paid players receive 48.9%, against 52.4% last year but above 42.5% in 2017.

Of 975 players on the opening day active rosters, injured lists, shortlist and bereavement list, 461 (47%) had salaries below $1 million, compared to 46% the last year. Minimum increased from $570,500 to $700,000; 57 won the minimum and 375 were below $730,000.

The median salary – the point at which an equal number of players are above and below – rose by $50,000 to $1.2 million, from $1.4 million in 2019 and well below the record of $1.65 million at the start of 2015.

The AP figures include salaries and prorated shares of signing bonuses and other guaranteed income. For some players, a portion of deferred money is discounted to reflect current values. For the 23 players remaining eligible for salary arbitration, the midpoints of player requests and team offers were used.

The luxury tax payrolls calculated by Major League Baseball are different, using average annual contract values ​​on 40-man rosters plus approximately $18 million per team for benefits and extended benefits and a 1/ 30 from the pre-arbitrage bonus pool.

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