MLB average salary up $1K after arbitration decisions, deals

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NEW YORK – Recent arbitration decisions and settlements have lifted Major League Baseball’s average salary by 6% from the start of the 2021 season to $4,415,275, according to a study by The Associated Press.

When the AP first published the study on April 14, the average was $4,414,184. At the time, 23 players were eligible for arbitration, so the study used midpoints of the figures submitted by players and teams.

The revision replaced the midpoints with the figures determined by arbitration panels or agreements that avoided hearings, showing an increase of $1,091. Teams won nine of 13 cases that went to hearings.

Players averaged $4,167,164 at the start of the 2021 season. The record is $4,451,508 set in 2017, before the salary slide that angered players during the labor contract that expired last December.

The players’ association uses slightly different methodology, and calculated its 2022 opening day average at $4,467,314.

This year’s average would have been a record $4.62 million had active rosters not been expanded from 26 to 28 through May 1 following the shortened spring training, adding players who are at the $700,000 minimum or close to it.

The new labor contract’s $50 million bonus pool for lower-salaried players who are not yet eligible for arbitration will boost the final average salary; adding that figure and dropping the added 60 players, the average would be $4.68 million.

No lease extension, but O’s and governor tout partnership

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The Baltimore Orioles and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore announced a joint commitment to what they called a “multi-decade, public-private partnership” to revitalize the Camden Yards sports complex.

The statement from the team and the state’s new governor came Wednesday, the deadline for the Orioles to exercise a one-time, five-year extension to their lease at Camden Yards. The team was not planning to exercise that option, according to a person with knowledge of the decision. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the club hadn’t announced its decision.

With no extension, the lease is set to expire at the end of this year, but the team and the Maryland Stadium Authority can keep negotiating. Wednesday’s joint release seemed to be an attempt to calm any nerves in Baltimore about the team’s future.

“I am looking forward to continuing to collaborate with Governor Moore, his administration, and the Maryland Stadium Authority in order to bring to Baltimore the modern, sustainable, and electrifying sports and entertainment destination the state of Maryland deserves,” Orioles CEO John Angelos said.

“We greatly appreciate Governor Moore’s vision and commitment as we seize the tremendous opportunity to redefine the paradigm of what a Major League Baseball venue represents and thereby revitalize downtown Baltimore. It is my hope and expectation that, together with Governor Moore and the new members and new chairman of the MSA board, we can again fully realize the potential of Camden Yards to serve as a catalyst for Baltimore’s second renaissance.”

Republican Larry Hogan, the state’s previous governor, signed a bill last year increasing bond authorization for M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens, and Camden Yards. The measure allowed borrowing of up to $600 million for each stadium.

“When Camden Yards opened 30 years ago, the Baltimore Orioles revolutionized baseball and set the bar for the fan experience,” Moore, a Democrat, said Wednesday. “We share the commitment of the Orioles organization to ensuring that the team is playing in a world-class facility at Camden Yards for decades to come and are excited to advance our public-private partnership.”

Angelos recently reaffirmed that the Orioles would stay in Baltimore, although he dressed down a reporter who asked for more clarity on the future of the team’s ownership situation. Angelos was sued last year by his brother Lou, who claimed John Angelos seized control of the Orioles at his expense.