Average major-league player will receive mere 53 percent raise over last season

April 10, 1991|By Murray Chass | Murray Chass,New York Times

If the fact that 223 players are making $1 million or more this year -- 32 at $3 million or more -- is not enough of an economically mind-boggling barometer of the escalation of baseball salaries, consider these developments:

Nine teams have an average salary of more than $1 million, dividing total payroll by the number of players.

The average Opening Day major-league salary for all players, total 708, is $890,844, and an astonishing 53 percent more than last year's Opening Day average, which was in the $580,000 range.

In previous years, no individual team average salary ever reached this year's major-league average salary. The record for a team average was set by the Mets in 1989 at $865,741.

Rosters and disabled lists -- and thus the numbers -- will change somewhat by Aug. 31, when the official salary studies are conducted by the Player Relations Committee and the players association.

But the season-opening figures, compiled by The New York Times from contract data obtained from management and player sources, show just how meteorically salaries have risen this year.

On Opening Day last year only one player, Robin Yount of Milwaukee, was at the $3 million plateau. This year Darryl Strawberry of Los Angeles, at $3.8 million, heads a hefty group of 32 floating in that economic stratosphere. Last year 153 players were at $1 million or more, this year 223.

The Oakland Athletics, with a record $36.4 million payroll and 14 of their 27 players receiving $1 million or more, have the highest team average, $1,349,352.

The Houston Astros, who lost most of their high-priced players as free agents during the winter, are at the other end of the salary standings with an average of $487,090.

The five members of the Athletics who are signed for $3 million or more -- total $16.7 million -- make more than the entire payrolls of Houston, Baltimore or Seattle. Add Mark McGwire, and the $19.55 million total is higher than the payroll of those three teams plus Cleveland and the Chicago White Sox.

Then throw in Dave Henderson, and the $22.15 million total is higher than the payrolls of those five clubs plus Texas, Montreal, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Atlanta and San Diego, or 11 of the other 25 clubs.

After the Athletics, the Mets have 13 players at $1 million or more, Boston, California and San Francisco 12 each and the Yankees, Kansas City and Los Angeles 11 each. Baltimore (Glenn Davis, Cal Ripken, Joe Orsulak) and Seattle have the fewest, three each.

Only 43 players are receiving the minimum salary of $100,000. That total is down drastically from the 1990 Opening Day total of 90, although those rosters each included 28 players because of the abbreviated spring training that followed the lockout.

The average team salaries on this page are based on the Opening Day rosters and disabled list. All team and individual salaries include base salary and pro-rated share of signing bonuses.

Team salaries

* Average baseball salaries by club on Opening Day and on Aug. 31, 1990. The 1991 figures are based on a survey by The Associated Press. The 1990 figures were compiled by the Major League Baseball Players Association.

7). . . . . . . . .1991 . . . . . . . 1990 Oakland . . . . $1,349,352. . . . $804,643 N.Y. Mets . . . .1,251,538 . . . . 758,575 Los Angeles . . .1,248,212 . . . . 685,780 Boston. . . . . .1,178,304 . . . . 777,683 California . . .1,146,071 . . . . 695,070 San Fran. . . . .1,117,619 . . . . 666,927 Kansas City . . .1,104,718 . . . . 692,973 Toronto . . . . .1,075,157 . . . . 686,326 N.Y. Yankees . .1,028,673 . . . . 725,872 Cincinnati . . .988,237 . . . . . 557,056 Chi. Cubs . . . .945,774 . . . . . 518,050 Detroit . . . . .931,533 . . . . . 675,898 Pittsburgh . . .922,897 . . . . . 592,390 Minnesota . . . .913,053 . . . . . 495,270 Milwaukee . . . .900,543 . . . . . 678,581 Louis . . . .791,429 . . . . . 636,794 San Diego . . . .776,518 . . . . . 656,164 Philadelphia. . .753,586 . . . . . 461,484 Atlanta . . . . .667,207 . . . . . 414,443 Texas . . . . . .666,039 . . . . . 481,290 Cleveland . . . .654,500 . . . . . 507,756 Montreal . . . .628,803 . . . . . 580,181 White Sox . . . .625,969 . . . . . 422,199 Seattle . . . . .596,160 . . . . . 388,649 Orioles . . . . .542,457 . . . . . 279,326 Houston . . . . .487,090 . . . . . 681,664

Oriole salaries

Figures were obtained by AP from management and player sources and include salaries and pro-rated shares of signing bonuses. For some players, parts of salaries deferred without interest are discounted to reflect present values.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES Glenn Davis . . . . $3,275,000 Cal Ripken . . . . .2,466,667 Joe Orsulak . . . . .1,100,000 Dwight Evans . . . .800,000 Bill Ripken . . . . .700,000 Mark Williamson . . .685,000 Bob Melvin . . . . .650,000 Jeff Robinson . . . .575,000 Gregg Olson . . . . .505,000 Jeff Ballard . . . .465,000 Ben McDonald . . . .441,667 Randy Milligan . . .330,000 Tim Hulett . . . . .327,500 Ernie Whitt . . . . .300,000 Mike Flanagan . . . .250,000 Mike Devereaux . . .210,000 Craig Worthington . .207,500 David Johnson . . . .200,000 Sam Horn . . . . . .175,000 Brady Anderson . . .165,000 Paul Kilgus . . . . .160,000 Jose Bautista . . . .138,000 Chris Hoiles . . . .107,500 Jose Mesa . . . . . .107,000 Juan Bell . . . . . .103,000 Leo Gomez . . . . . .102,500 Brian Dubois . . . .100,000

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