NEW YORK — The average major league salary rebounded to $4.4million on Opening Day, aided by a frenzy in free-agent signings prior and after the 99 day lockout, according a study by The Associated Press of baseball contracts.
Pitcher Season record set at $43.3million, surpassing the previous mark of last year pitcher Trevor Bauer at $38 million. Scherzer is more valuable than any of the other current players combined.
The average price of $4.414,184 was 5.9% more than the $4.167164 at the beginning of last season, and just below last year's record of $4.451,508 which was set in 2017, before the salary slide, which angered players during last December's labor contract.
Major League Baseball projects Opening Day payrolls of $4.5 Billion, almost 10% higher than the previous record of $4.1 Billion.
If the spring training was shortened, the average would have been much higher. The active rosters were increased from 26 players to 28. The average would have reached $4.62million if you took out the additional players at $700,000.
This year's average will also be increased by the $50 million bonus pool in the new labor contract for lower-salaried workers not yet eligible to arbitrate. Add that amount to the total and subtract 60 players, and the average would reach $4.68 million.
As more well-paid veterans are replaced with lower-salaried ones, the average salary falls over the season.
The Dodgers have a record of nearly $285million, up from $241million at the beginning of last season.
The Mets are currently second in revenue at $266 millions in their second season of ownership under Steven Cohen. This is an increase from $186 million last season and $154 million in 2019, which was the last full season in the Wilpon-Katz families.
TheThird is Philadelphia (with $237 million), followed by San Diego ($224 million) and Boston (with $212 million).
World Series champion Atlanta is eighth with $184 million and American League champion Houston 10th with $174 million.
Oakland, which has traded many stars following the lockout, is currently at $48 million. This is down from $83million on Opening Day and the Athletics lowest total for a full season since 2008.
Other low payrolls include Baltimore ($58m), Cleveland ($60m), Pittsburgh ($62m), and Miami (just below $80m).
The Orioles paid $38 million to their current players. Just over $20 million went towards the final season on the seven-year contract for Chris Davis, first baseman. Davis retired after years of injuries, three consecutive sub-.200 batting runs, and many years of injury.
Angels outfielder, Scherzer, was next at the top of the Salary ListAngels third baseman at $37.1 Million Yankees pitchers are available for $36.6 million at $36 million, Minnesota shortstop San Diego third baseman, $35.1 million At $34 million
Thirteen players have a net worth of $30 million or more. 48 players have a net worth at least $20 millions, while 133 have a net worth at least $10million. 514 players earn at least $1million, more than half of them.
After several years of increasing, the payroll disparity between players has decreased slightly.
The 50 highest-paid athletes are receiving 30.3% of their salaries. This is down from 33.4% at season's start, but still higher than the 28.6% in 2017. 48.9% are being received by the 100 highest-paid, a decrease of 52.4% from last year, but still above the 42.5% for 2017.
Out of 975 players who were on Opening Day's active rosters, injured list, restricted list and bereavement lists, 461 (47%) had salaries below $1 million. This is an increase from 46% last season. The minimum wage was increased from $570,500 up to $700,000. 57 players earned the minimum, while 375 earned less than $730,000.
The median salary — which indicates the level at which players are equal in income — increased by $50,000 to $1.2million, down from $1.4million in 2019 but still well below the $1.65m record at the start 2015.
The AP's numbers include salaries and prorated share of signing bonuses and other guaranteed income. Parts of the deferred income are reduced to reflect current values for some players. For the remaining 23 players who are eligible for salary arbitration, the middlepoints of the player requests were used.
Major League Baseball calculates luxury tax payrolls differently. They use the average annual value of contracts on 40-man rosters, plus $18 million per team to provide extended benefits and a 1/30 of the pre-arbitration Bonus Pool.