Payrolls plunge by $47 million

By Ronald Blum
Associated Press / April 9, 2009
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NEW YORK - The recession has hit baseball salaries.

Teams cut payrolls for their active rosters and disabled lists by $47 million from Opening Day in 2008 to the first day of this season, according to an analysis by the Associated Press. That comes out to a drop of 1.7 percent.

The drop is the first since 2004 and just the second since the 1994-95 strike.

Sixteen of the 30 major league clubs cut payroll. Among those who lowered spending - the mighty New York Yankees.

While the Yankees led the major leagues with a $201.4 million payroll, they trimmed salaries by $7.6 million from the start of last season.

Others cut more, led by San Diego ($30.9 million), the Chicago White Sox ($25.1 million), Detroit ($23.6 million), and Seattle ($19.1 million).

The 14 who increased salaries were led by American League champion Tampa Bay ($19.5 million), the Chicago Cubs ($16.5 million), Florida ($15 million), and World Series champion Philadelphia ($14.7 million).

And while the 10 highest spenders lowered payroll by an average of $7.8 million, the 10 lowest raised spending by an average of $4.5 million.

On the highest payroll list, the Yankees were followed by the cross-town rival Mets at $135.7 million.

Both teams move into revenue-boosting new ballparks this season.

The Cubs are third at $135.1 million, followed by the Red Sox ($123 million), Detroit ($115 million), the Los Angeles Angels ($113.7 million), and Philadelphia ($113 million).

Figures don't include termination pay to released players, such as $13.6 million Gary Sheffield is owed by Detroit, so the Tigers' spending is closer to $129 million.

The lowest spenders are Florida ($37 million), San Diego ($43 million), and Pittsburgh ($49 million).

While overall payroll is down, the average player salary is up 2.7 percent to $3.24 million.

Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees, on the disabled list following hip surgery, is the game's highest-paid player with a $33 million salary, topping the major leagues for the ninth straight year. The Dodgers' Manny Ramírez is second at $23.9 million, followed by Yankees teammates Derek Jeter ($21.6 million) and Mark Teixeira ($20.6 million).

A majority of players, 433 of 818, make at least $1 million, one fewer than last year's record. A record 86 were at $10 million or more, an increase of one.

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