For the first time since the MLB Players Association began keeping detailed salary records in 1967, the MLB average player salary has dropped in consecutive years, according to the Associated Press. . Now there have been five average salary declines in the last half-century.
Here are the 2019 salary details from the Associated Press:
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 7 1/2-month strike; and in 2004.
The average salary has now dropped in back-to-back seasons despite record revenues that have topped $10 billion league-wide.even though the penalties are not that harsh -- , a mere $13.4 million -- and teams have scaled back on free agent spending in recent years.
Free agency has bounced back in a big way this offseason and perhaps that's an indication the average salary will increase next year. Here's how much MLB teams have spent on free agents (guaranteed major league contracts only) from Nov. 1 through the final day of the Winter Meetings each of the last five offseasons:
|Offseason||Signings||Contract Years||Total Dollars|
Even if you subtract out the Gerrit Cole ($324 million), Anthony Rendon ($245 million), and Stephen Strasburg ($245 million) mega-deals, teams spent considerably more during this period ($558 million) than either of the previous two offseasons. Those guys are special players and they received special contracts. Overall though, free agent spending is on the rise.
There are likely several reasons for that, including several rebuilding teams looking to make the jump to contender (Padres, White Sox) and several teams desperate to contend after spinning their wheels the last few years (Angels, Phillies). Still, big market clubs like the Astros, Cubs, and Red Sox are crying poor and looking to shed money to make additions.
The current collective bargaining agreement expires in Dec. 2021 and the MLBPA is gearing up for a fight given the decline in free agency and player salaries. This offseason could be an indication teams are ready to spend big again, and that's encouraging, but it is far too early to say that definitively. The average salary declined again and the union should be furious.