Average Opening Day Salary Remains Steady

3:00pm:  USA Today, correcting an error in their original report, now say the average player salary this year is $3.27MM, an increase of less than one percent from last year.  

9:10am: The players on Opening Day rosters around the majors are making 17% less money this year than they did last year, according to USA Today. On average, players earned $3.2MM last year, but that figure is down to $2.7MM as the new season begins. Players are still earning lots, but their salaries dropped more this year than in any year since 1988, when USA Today started its survey. Let's run down some of the reasons why salaries are dropping:

  • The weakened economy has slowed spending down for the past couple offseasons. Braves president John Schuerholz told USA Today that "the economy has affected all of us." When fans spend less, teams bring in less revenue and have less to spend on players.
  • As Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd points out in the article, teams are relying on lots of young talent. Players are at their cheapest before they hit free agency, so the emphasis on youth could be lowering salaries.
  • Teams are more conscious of defensive stats and people like Bill James believe younger (and therefore cheaper) players tend to play better defense better than aging ones.
  • Front offices are becoming more risk-averse and are less likely to hand out multi-year deals to anyone other than elite players.


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12 Responses to Average Opening Day Salary Remains Steady Leave a Reply

  1. Super_Star 5 years ago

    I think a lot has to do with the Yankees not spending $400 million this offseason.

  2. Super_Star 5 years ago

    I think a lot has to do with the Yankees not spending $400 million this offseason

  3. crunchy1 5 years ago

    When you even have Jim Hendry going with 3 rookie relievers and specifically saying that rookie James Russell was as good as anyone he could have acquired on the market, you know the tide must be turning! No one loves overpaid veteran relievers like Hendry does.

  4. the_show 5 years ago

    top payrolls

    New York Yankees 206,333,389
    Boston Red Sox 162,447,333
    Chicago Cubs 146,447,333
    Philadelphia Phillies 141,928,379
    New york Mets 134,422,942
    Detroit Tigers 122,864,928
    Chicago White Sox 105,530,000
    Los Angeles Angels 104,963,866
    Minnesota Twins 97,559,166
    Los Angeles Dodgers 95,358,016

  5. stl_cards16 5 years ago

    While I agree with everything listed especially the teams more willing to go with young talent over spending on a free agent. I think the last reason would cause a few higher salaries. Teams would be more willing to go a little higher with the yearly salary over signing the player for 6 or 7 years at a lower yearly salary

  6. markjsunz 5 years ago

    The Dodgers have not reduced the price of tickets, nor has there attenedence declined. The cost of parking has not changed, and the price of the Dodger dogs which taste like an also ran at santa anita and there flat soda and urine warm beer has not changed. The fighting McCourts are just making more profits and using the state of the economy as the reason. Of course they are entitled to make money but the economy is not the reason for the lack of adding some pitching depth, or a second baseman.Any couple that will spend well in excess of 20 million for divorce lawyers are not going to be very solid when it comes to ownership of the team.

    • bjsguess 5 years ago

      I agree with this 100%. In some cases, teams have clearly been hindered by the economy. They are also impacted on the revenue sharing aspect. However, for some teams times are great and they are raking in the dough. Owners are simply hiding behind the bad economy to justify increased net earnings.

  7. Rynocerous 5 years ago

    I’d like to point out that this survey was incorrect, and USA Today has since run a retraction. Salaries are actually up 1% this year.

  8. Trious 5 years ago

    Many teams realize that a good farm system can win a WS as the Marlins, Rays, and others have shown.

    So, teams have TOO much optimism in the pre-season

  9. whitesoxfan424 5 years ago

    Rays went, but didn’t win.

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