One Player Makes More Than the Orioles

Average MLB salary hits $4.4M, with Max Scherzer paid the most
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 14, 2022 5:38 PM CDT
One Player Makes More Than the Orioles
Mike Trout of the Angels celebrates in the dugout after hitting a home run Saturday.   (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File)

The average salary in the major leagues rebounded to $4.4 million on opening day, boosted by a frenzy of free agent signings before and after the 99-day lockout, according to a study of baseball contracts by the AP. New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer set a season record at $43.3 million, topping the mark 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. Major League Baseball projects opening day payrolls at about $4.5 billion, up almost 10% from the previous high of approximately $4.1 billion.

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 slide that upset players during the labor contract that expired last December. This year's average would have been higher had active rosters not been expanded from 26 to 28 through May 1 following the shortened spring training. Factoring out the added players who are at the $700,000 minimum or close to it, the average would have been a record $4.62 million. In addition, this year's final average will be boosted by the new contract's $50 million bonus pool for lower-salaried players not yet eligible for arbitration. Adding that figure and dropping the added 60 players, the average would be $4.68 million.

The average salary declines over the course of a season as higher-paid veterans are released and replaced by lower-salaried players. The Los Angeles Dodgers top MLB payrolls at nearly $285 million. Scherzer was followed on the salary list by Angels outfielder Mike Trout at $37.1 million. Thirteen players earn $30 million or more, and 48 earn at least $20 million. After several years of widening, payroll disparity among players decreased slightly. The 50 highest-paid players are getting 30.3% of salaries, down from 33.4% at the start of last season. The median salary—the point at which an equal 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 $1.65 million record high at the start of 2015.

(Read more MLB stories.)

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