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Average MLB salary climbs to $2 million

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

NEW YORK – A $2 million salary makes you only an average baseball player these days.

Only eight years after the average salary broke the million-dollar mark, it nearly reached $2 million on opening day, falling just short at $1,988,034, according to an Associated Press study of all major-league contracts.

”I don’t know if it is negative or positive for the game,” New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza said. ”It rewards guys with talent who have worked hard all their lives, rode the buses in the minors and now are getting paid very well for what they do.”

When Piazza first came up to the major leagues in 1993, he made $126,000. This year, he’s making $12,071,429, and that puts him only in sixth.

Dodgers’ pitcher Kevin Brown is No. 1 at $15,714,286, only slightly less than the $16,519,500 the Minnesota Twins are paying their entire roster.

Arizona pitcher Randy Johnson is second at $13.35 million, followed by Baltimore outfielder Albert Belle ($12,868,670), New York Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams ($12,357,143) and Colorado outfielder Larry Walker ($12,142,857).

Belle had been No. 1 the previous three seasons.

Cincinnati’s Ken Griffey Jr. is 19th at $9,329,700, which includes $7 million in salary, $625,000 as the remaining share of the signing bonus from his Seattle contract and $1,704,700, which represents the 2000 value of $5.5 million in deferred payments.

While Cincinnati gave Griffey a $116.5 million, nine-year contract, $57.5 million is deferred and won’t even start earning interest until 2009.

”If the salaries continue to escalate and you don’t have revenues that come close to staying even, then you’re in trouble, and that’s where we are,” said Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo, who pays Johnson every two weeks. ”I don’t think anyone could say it’s a healthy sign. There needs to be a change in the economic system. That’s just clear and distinct.”

The average went up 15.6 percent from $1,720,050, nearly as much as the 19.3 percent increase last season.

The New York Yankees, at $92.5 million, have the highest payroll for the second straight year, followed by Los Angeles ($88.1 million), Atlanta ($84.5 million), Baltimore ($81.4 million) and Arizona ($81 million).

The Yankees’ payroll is nearly six times the size of Minnesota’s.

Local baseball millionaires

Player Team Annual salary

Kenny Lofton Cleveland $7,500,000

Scott Erickson Baltimore $6,620,921

Trevor Hoffman San Diego $6,600,000

Tony Clark Detroit $4,062,500

J.T. Snow San Francisco $4,750,000

Gilbert Heredia Oakland $2,100,000

Chad Curtis Texas $2,000,000

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