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Golden Games: The Money that Major League Baseball Players Make

Updated on September 16, 2012

© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

On December 12, 2011, the Major League Baseball Players Association negotiated a new basic agreement with the owners of 30 Major League Clubs in the United States. This labor union document specifies the working conditions, vacations, hiring procedures, reimbursements and salaries for professional baseball players until its expiration in 2016.


MLB players made an average of $3,415,771 per year for 2012 according to USA Today.

  • The teams showed a mean payroll of $98,021,906.
  • The team with the highest averages were the New York Yankees, paying $6,186,321 per player for a total of $197,962,289.
  • The Oakland Athletics had the lowest average wages at an annual $1,845,750 or a total of $55,372,500.


The highest paid player was third baseman Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, who earned an annual $30,000,000.

  • He was followed by outfielder Vernon Wells of the Los Angeles Angels at a mean $24,187,500 yearly and pitcher, Johan Santana, who averaged 23,145,011.
  • In the top 25, the lowest earning players were pitchers Josh Beckett of the Boston Red Sox and Jake Peavy of the Chicago White Sox, each making $17,000,000.
  • Above them was outfielder Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners, who received $18,000,000.


Within the highest-paid New York Yankees, other high earning players were first baseman Mark Teixeira at $23,125,000 annually, pitcher CC Sabathia at $23,000,000 and shortstop Derek Jeter at $15,729,364.

  • The lowest wages belonged to two pitchers: Cesar Cabral and Brad Meyers, both of whom made $480,000 for the year.
  • For the lowest-paid Oakland Athletics, outfielder Yoenia Cespedes received the highest wages of $9,000,000 per year, followed by outfielder Coco Crisp at $6,000,000 and Catcher Curt Suzuki at $5,037,500.
  • Six players received the minimums of $480,000 for the year including pitchers Graham Godfrey and Tom Milone, and catcher Anthony Recker.


The basic agreement specified minimum annual player salaries of $480,000 for 2012, $490,000 for 2013 and $500,000 for 2014.

  • In 2015, the minimum salary started with the 2014 pay plus a cost-of-living adjustment rounded to the nearest $500. For 2016, the minimum began with the 2015 rates plus a cost of living adjustment.
  • The multi-million dollar player salaries in 2012 were obviously far above even the minimums for 2016. These amounts only represent basic salaries. Players could also earn payments for performing club services in addition to being a baseball player, in lump sums for being traded or released, the value of property rights granted to the player by the club, and compensation for post-career employment.
  • Compare these rates to the mean $79,830 per year earned by professional athletes as of May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Lows were under $17,960 yearly, while highs topped $187,199 annually.


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    • point2make profile image

      point2make 5 years ago

      Great informative hub alocsin. Major league baseball salaries are really beginning to reach the levels that would be considered obscene by many. It is a stark demonstration of the differences between those who have and those who don't. Excellent hub...voted up.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Yikes, I chose the wrong career path!! lol. That is insane money, although I expected it to be fairly decent, I didn't expect players to be earning quite that much. Mind you, I guess most major league sports pay well now.

      Shared, up, interesting and tweeted.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      When I see some of those numbers I do a double take; I love baseball but this seems like such a lot of money when people in the world are going hungry. And some baseball players look like they need to go on a diet, they don't look like elite athletes at all. You have to admire what Billy Bean has done at Oakland on a 'small' wage bill in comparison to the Yankees where money is no object. I hope Oakland get the wildcard!

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      I had no idea professional baseball players made that much. It's amazing what someone can make in a profession that requires absolutely no education whatsoever. Even the lowest salary sounds good to me. Voted up!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      I wish I were a Baseball player. The money sportsmen make these days is mind boggling.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Thanks for expressing your thoughts, Born2care2001. For better or worse, I'm not much of a baseball fan. I just wrote this hub because it seemed that a lot of folks were looking for the info.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 5 years ago

      Hi Alocsin, It's truly Amazing, the Salaries that Major League Players make. This was a Fun and Enjoyable read, and of course very Educational. Thanks for sharing.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Whoa. A million is unimaginable. 30 mil? Drop in the bucket. LOL. Interesting stats. Wow!

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Alocsin, always enjoy the stats pal. I see that Oakland is still the lowest. I figured NYY was the most although LA is up there now with that recent trade. Big bucks, I reckon I should have been a baseball player. These totals are BIG. Up, useful, and interesting. Shared as well Alocsin.

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      It becomes so appalling when you see the stats in writing. How did it ever get to be this way with sport superstars? Interesting subject matter. Rated up too.

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 5 years ago from Northern California

      Very interesting facts presented in a well-made Hub. I was just talking about how much sports players make today, and how the negotiations work. For instance, with the possible NHL lockout this season. I guess there isn't enough money involved in pro sports yet! :)

    • greeneryday profile image

      greeneryday 5 years ago from Some tropical country

      Never though that MLB players earn so much from playing baseball, this is what hard work all about and these players deserve high amount of pays because they have been dedicating their life to this sport since they were really young...thanks for sharing..voted up for interesting...

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      They do get paid well, but then they are only able to earn this much over a period of time. And, I am sure it is hard work. I just saw the movie Money Ball with Brad Pitt covering the Oakland A's changing the way the game is played through stats. It was quite interesting. Also, it did say that they were a team that didn't play for the money, it was all about the enjoyment. Interesting hub post.

    • Born2care2001 profile image

      Rev Bruce S Noll HMN 5 years ago from Asheville NC

      Hi Alocsin!

      You touched a proverbial nerve of an old time sports enthusiast. Below is an excerpt from an article I published on my blog. For those of you who may be interested in seeing the article in its entirety I urge you to go to and scroll down to the article entitled "You Lost Me" referring to my boycott of a sport I watched with passion for over 50 years.

      "You don't have to agree with me. It's just my opinion. So, to the owners and athletes who once garnered my childlike respect, admiration and ultimate fan allegiance; and to the game which has fascinated my imagination from the time I saw my first game at Franklin Field to the first Super Bowl and through all of the changes to date, I say sadly, goodbye - you lost me!

      Not a threat - just a conscious choice to invest my time, effort and money more meaningfully!"

      The NHL will now garner the same boycott via their recent decision and if baseball did the same thing I'd do it again. My Point is...Happy for them, sad for all whose priorities are guided by this greed!

      Great Hub Alocsin! Thank you for your incredible writing, reporting and accuracy. You are truly a Hubpages leader!




      This is written by one who attended college on a football scholarship and MLB tryout camps as a teen and young adult.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      I am not a believer that athletes should make these ridiculous amount of money while teachers, nurses, and other important professions make so little. They make some serious wages! Great information.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My favorite sport; none of this information surprised me, but great job of compiling it.


    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      These wages are especially interesting when compared with the wages of the Navy SEALs in your previous hub. What are the priorities in this world, anyway?? Very interesting...voted up all the way and shared.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Damn!! Shoulda married a baseball player! What was I thinking?? and to think baseball is my most favorite sport. I can watch baseball all day!

      It's actually the only sport I like to watch.

      Alocsin, that's so much money....sigh......UP+++

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I'm with Nell on this! I would also "settle" for the lower amount that major league baseball players receive. Ha! Up and interesting.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi alocsin, I certainly wouldn't mind going for the lower amount! This is similar to English footballers too, we call it silly money over here, interesting stuff, and voted and shared, nell

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi alocsin, I certainly wouldn't mind going for the lower amount! This is similar to English footballers too, we call it silly money over here, interesting stuff, and voted and shared, nell