NEW YORK — The average salary in Major League Baseball has dropped in consecutive years for the first time since the players’ association started keeping records more than a half-century ago.
The 988 players on Aug. 31 rosters and injured lists averaged $4,051,490, the union said Friday, down 1.1% from $4,095,686 last year. The average peaked at $4,097,122 in 2017.
This was just the fifth decline since records started in 1967, when the average was $19,000. There also were drops in 1987, when clubs were found guilty of collusion; in 1995, after the end of a 7½-month strike; and in 2004.
This year’s drop followed two slow free-agent markets and new contracts with large signing bonuses for Mike Trout, Alex Bregman, Manny Machado and A.J. Pollock. Those four players received $62 million in signing bonuses during 2019 that are prorated over the length of each contract in the calculation of the average. If the entire amounts had been counted for 2019, the average would have been about $54,000 higher — more than the $44,196 drop.