Average MLB salary at $4.17 million, down 4.8% from 2019

NEW YORK – The average payroll in the Major League has dropped 4.8 percent since the start of the last full season in 2019, to just under $4.17 million on Opening Day.

The average has fallen by 6.4 percent since the start of the 2017 season, when it peaked at $4.45 million, according to a study of major league contracts by the Associated Press. The pay cuts are another sign that baseball could face labor unrest and a possible work stoppage in 2022.

Baseball’s middle class has suffered the brunt of the fall. The median salary – the point where an equal number of players fall above and below – is $1.15 million, 18 percent below the $1.4 million of two years ago and 30 percent below the record $1.65 million of early 2015.

Of the 902 players on the opening day roster, 417 had a salary of less than $1 million, including 316 with less than $600,000.

The 50 highest paid players receive 33.4 percent of all salaries, up from 28.6 percent in 2017, and the 100 highest paid players receive 52.4 percent, up from 42.5 percent in 2017.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer is the highest paid player in 2021 with $38 million after agreeing to a three-year, $102 million contract that he can opt out of after one season. Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout is second with $37.1 million, followed by New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole ($36 million) and St. Louis third baseman Nolan Arenado ($36 million). He was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals ($35 million) in a trade with the Colorado Rockies.

2021 Opening salary

Control Regulation
Dodgers $241,372,403
Yankees $201,074,956
Mets $186,001,814
Angel $180,609,676
National fees $179,557,685
Red Sox $179,540,260
Astros $176,495,417
Address $175,713,986
Phyllis $174,808,832
Cardinals $164,972,833
Cubs $156,481,585
Giants $149,937,613
Blue Jay $139,646,569
Brave $132,458,375
The White Sox. $127,148,334
Gemini $125,153,166
Red $123,575,488
Rocks $110,309,500
Rangers $97,796,971
Diamondbacks $94,394,792
Brewers $93,818,038
Royals $89,496,700
Mariners $83,603,100
Athletics $82,983,674
Tigers $80,866,200
Blasting $66,820,709
Marlins $57,481,750
Orioles $56,158,500
Inder $51,269,100
Pirates $45,599,000
— The Associated Press

The World Series champion Dodgers led the major leagues with $241 million, a record since the Dodgers set a record of $270 million at the beginning of the 2015 season.

The players are unhappy with the pay cuts under the current collective bargaining agreement since before last year’s pandemic-shortened season and plan to push for changes in this year’s collective bargaining to preserve the contract, which expires on Jan. 1. December expires.

The average was just over $500,000 when AP began studying salaries in 1989 and has fallen by just over half in 2017: after the 1994-95 strike and between the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

For the current contract, which started after the 2016 season, the average was 4.9% lower. The average increased 15.3% for the 2007-2011 contract and 32.6% for the 2012-2016 contract.

This year’s average was depressed by the absence of Houston Astros pitcher Jake Odorizzi, who was removed from the original roster, and outfielder Rugned Odor, who was designated for assignment by the Texas Rangers and then traded to the Yankees. Their presence on opening day would have increased the average by about $24,000, reducing the two-year decline to 4.2%.

Add to that the money the Boston Red Sox owe second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who is on the voluntary retirement list after missing most of the previous three seasons due to injury, and the average would have dropped 3.9 percent to $4.2 million. End-of-game payouts, surrendered options and a portion of season ticket bonuses paid to exempt players are not included in the average.

In addition, the expansion of the active roster slightly reduced the average probability to 26, which likely caused teams to add 30 players earning about $570,500.

The Yankees come in second with $201 million and the New York Mets, under new owner Stephen Cohen, come in third with $186 million. They are followed by the Angels with $181 million, the Washington Nationals ($179.6 million), the Red Sox ($179.5 million), the Astros ($176.5 million), the San Diego Padres ($175.7 million) and the Philadelphia Phillies ($174.8 million).

Twelve teams are valued at less than $100 million, including the Pittsburgh Pirates at $46 million, their lowest value all season since Houston ($44.6 million in 2014). Just above the Pirates were the Cleveland Indians ($51 million), Baltimore Orioles ($56 million) and Miami Marlins ($57 million).

Last year’s salaries were reduced to 60/162 due to the shortened season and cannot be compared to other years.

Average and median salaries decline over the course of the season as veterans are fired and replaced by younger players approaching the minimum.

PA figures include salaries and pro-rated portions of signing bonuses and other guaranteed income for players on the active and injured rosters, as well as for a player who started the season on the paternity list. For some players, some of the deferred money is discounted to reflect the current value.

Major League Baseball’s luxury tax varies and is based on the average annual value of 40-man contracts plus about $15 million per team for incentives and fringe benefits.

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