MLB

How Much Money Does the Average MLB Player Make?

When stars like Gerrit Cole and Mike Trout sign contracts worth over $300 million with annual salaries north of $25 million, MLB fans witness the exception rather than the rule. Outside of the league’s most elite, the majority of players don’t enjoy salaries that come close to those numbers. You might be surprised to learn what the average salary is for a MLB player.

MLB players’ average salary

As of 2018, the reported average salary for MLB players was $4.38 million, reports Chron.com, which is artificially high due to the exorbitant contracts players at the highest level receive.

The median 2018 salary in the majors, which might be a more accurate depiction of what players make, was $1.5 million. For the upcoming season, the minimum salary will be $563,500, reports USA Today, a bump of $8,500 from the minimum in 2019. So no MLB players are hurting for money, but not all salaries are equal.

Salary differences by position

How much a player makes is at least partially determined by his position. Pitchers are among the highest-paid players. They have an annual salary of $5.2 million in 2018, compared to a median of $2.8 million.

The highest average salary for any position is, somewhat surprisingly, designated hitter. Designated hitters in the American League average $13.4 million, with the median actually higher at $14.3 million. Designated hitters are typically veteran players with proven track records of success, which commands a higher salary than other positions.

Outfielders, who are often power hitters in the middle of a team’s lineup, are also up there in salary. The average salary for right fielders is $5.2 million, with the median being $3 million. One of the lower-paid positions is shortstop, which is understandable as shortstops often struggle at the plate compared to other hitters.

The average salary for a shortstop is $2.6 million, and the position’s median income is $1 million — a good salary in a vacuum but not compared to some of the other MLB salaries.

The highest-paid MLB players

Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole throwing in the bull pen in 2020
Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole throwing in the bullpen in 2020 | J. Conrad Williams, Jr./Newsday RM via Getty Images

Trout tops the list in terms of the total value of his contract, with a 12-year deal with the Angels worth $426.5 million. Cole has the highest average annual salary at $36 million per year. This is part of the nine-year, $324 million contract that he signed with the Yankees this offseason.

Harper’s deal with the Phillies is worth $330 million over 13 seasons. This is tied for the longest contract in baseball with Giancarlo Stanton, who is in the midst of his own 13-year contract, receiving $325 million over the term of the deal.

Mookie Betts will likely join this list next offseason when he becomes a free agent — assuming he doesn’t sign an extension with the Dodgers. Some people think Betts could command more than $400 million, like the deal the Angels gave Trout last year. These $300 million and $400 million contracts will become increasingly common in baseball in the coming years.