NEW YORK (AP) — A study by The Associated Press determined the average major league salary on opening day dropped slightly following an offseason of slashed contracts for many free agents and the decisions to start three highly paid players in the minor leagues.
The $4.41 million average Thursday fell 0.9 percent from last year’s starting figure of $4.45 million, according to the AP’s calculations. It was only the second drop since the end of the 1994-95 strike, after a 2.7 decrease in 2004.
Two late-signing free agent pitchers were optioned to farm teams just ahead of Thursday’s openers to get more preparation time: Philadelphia’s Jake Arrieta and Baltimore’s Alex Cobb. If they had remained in the majors, the average would have been down just $1,380. And if Arizona had not sent down outfielder Yasmany Tomas, the average would have been up 0.2 percent to $4.46 million.
Boston had a $224 million payroll and topped the major leagues for the first time since at least the 1980s. San Francisco was next at $207 million, followed by the Chicago Cubs ($182 million), Washington ($181 million), the Los Angeles Dodgers ($179 million), the Los Angeles Angels ($170 million) and the New York Yankees in seventh at $167 million — their lowest payroll since 2003.
World Series champion Houston was 10th at $158 million. Philadelphia was last at $64.5 million — but that doesn’t include Arrieta’s $30 million. Oakland was next-to-last at $66 million.
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