MLB Average Annual Player Salary Now Comfortably Over $4 Million


As the values of the average Major League Baseball franchise and the league as a whole have continued to rise, so have the paydays of the people who are the faces of those teams.

The average annual MLB player salary is now $4.38 million, a 4.4 percent increase from 2015 according to the Associated Press. This represents an increase of nearly a million dollars from 2012, and represents a consistent annual rate of growth around that four percent mark.

The increase in AAPS (average annual player salary) is somewhat on par with the increase of MLB revenue and value as a whole. Total league revenue was up seven percent in 2015 compared to 2014, and the current average value of a MLB franchise is up that same seven percent compared to 2015.

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An annual salary of $4.38 million per year sounds like a hefty wage, and for the majority of the fans who fork out their cash to buy jerseys bearing these players’ names, it would be a monumental raise. To put this in the proper perspective, however, we have to deal with these economics on the appropriate scale.

With the average MLB franchise carrying a current valuation of $1.3 billion, that AAPS represents just 3/10 of a percent. To make an easy-to-understand analogy, imagine that $1.3 billion as a single dollar. Exchange that dollar in for the appropriate 100 pennies, and set just one of those pennies aside. Cut that penny into 10 pieces and set aside three of those pieces. That’s what the AAPS is worth relative to the average value of a MLB franchise, and a lot of players are making well below the AAPS this season.

To further understand the context, not all of the remaining pennies and pieces of pennies are profit for MLB franchises. The AAPS is just that, an average, meaning many players are making much, much more. This season, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw is the top earner at $33 million, a salary over seven times the AAPS. Teams have many other expenses, such as front office and coaching staff salaries, equipment costs, profit sharing, etc., to pay out of their revenues.

Comparing MLB to the other “Big Four” professional sports leagues is a favorable comparison for baseball. The AAPS for MLB is second only to the National Basketball Association’s AAPS, which is currently $6 million. It must be noted, however, that NBA teams only carry 13 active players, almost half of that which MLB teams carry. MLB’s AAPS is nearly twice what it is in the National Hockey League and the National Football League.

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With all that understood, the biggest take-away here is that the AAPS has continued to increase at a healthy rate alongside the growth of the sport as a whole. That bodes well for labor relations between the league and its players, which is especially important in a year that will feature the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement.