Recent rash of free agent signings have raised eyebrows regarding MLB contracts.
With free agency and trade negotiations in full swing, the hot topic around the MLB is contracts and money. Players are making more money now than they ever have and teams are shelling out large amounts of cash for the games best players.
Day in and day out fans are analyzing some of these contracts trying to determine if players are worth what they are being paid. With all of these figures being thrown out during the offseason it leads one to wonder, what were players making around 50 years ago?
Well, the numbers are drastically different from the salaries being earned today. In 2012 the average Major League salary was $3,213,479 and the league minimum salary was $480,000. Compare that to 1966 when the average salary was $16,000 and the league minimum was $6,000 and it seems almost outrageous.
One thing that is the same throughout baseball history is the top players make the most money. In 1963 Willie Mays was the highest paid player with an annual salary of $105,000. Today the highest paid player is Alex Rodriguez who makes an annual salary of $29,000,000.
Now of course you have to take inflation into account when you make these comparisons. In 1963 $1 had the same buying power as $7.63 does today. If you take Willie Mays’s contract in 1963 and take that inflation into account he made the equivalent of $8,011,150. The MLBPA has also worked hard to improve contracts for players since Marvin Miller took over in 1966.
Another reason for the large difference in contracts is the popularity of baseball and the amount of money MLB teams make. In 1963 the top five payrolls were held by the Dodgers ($257,000), Yankees ($182,000), Giants ($137,000), Tigers ($104,000), and Cardinals ($79,000). Today the top five payrolls are held by the Yankees ($228,995,945), Dodgers ($216,302,909), Phillies ($159,578,214), Red Sox (158,967,286), and Tigers ($149,046,844).
Players today have benefitted greatly from the work done by the MLBPA and players before them.
Their contracts say it all.