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.