How Much Do Major League Baseball Players Make?

Major League Baseball has made its mark on American culture. Summers are spent having fun, going on vacation, and most importantly attending MLB games. For some, they have made it their mission to visit every Major League Baseball stadium in the United States. This sport has become more than a sport, it has become a way of life for many and a source of income for the players. 

Many, whether they play baseball or not, watch professional baseball and wonder how much the players are getting paid to play the sport they have grown up loving. If you are one of these people, don’t fret - we will answer this question for you!

Baseball is seen as America’s favorite pastime. A way for friends and family to come together over a common love. Children who grow up playing the sport hope to one day play in the major leagues and the parents of these children hope that that dream will come true. However, what many are not aware of, is the journey that coincides with playing Major League Baseball.

So, what does this journey look like?

Well, for starters, players do not start out with million-dollar salaries. There is a lot of work put in prior to reaching that point. Whether a player is drafted out of high school or college, most likely, they will start their time in the Minor League. Players could play for minor league teams for months or even years and for some, their baseball career will end here.

Just as high school players work to stand out to receive scholarships and offers from collegiate teams, minor league players do the same with hopes of being pulled up to the major leagues. Similar to your average corporate job, professional baseball players are seeking promotions to work their way up to the big stage.

Major League Baseball

Comprised of 30 teams with 25 players each, Major League Baseball is home to a total of 750 active players. “Spring training starts in mid-February, and exhibition games are played until opening day during the first week of April.” With 162 games per season, these players are always on the go!

How does Minor League Baseball differ?

The MiLB is where most players start off when they are drafted. With over 200 teams, there are about 6,000 players in the minor leagues. Each year, there are about 7,000 NCAA players that are eligible for the MLB draft. Of these 7,000, approximately 700 are drafted to a major league team. “The chances of a player coming out of the minor leagues to play in the majors is about 10 percent.” This makes the chances of a collegiate player making it to a major league team about 1 percent. 

Baseball players, whether they play in the minor league or major league, have worked hard to be where they are standing today. The exciting lifestyle filled with screaming fans and fame is what many only see, but the dedication to the sport and their commitment to maintaining a positive attitude and following the journey is what is most admirable about these players.

How Much Do MLB Players Make?

While the average salary of an MLB is $4.38 million, the median income is $1.5 million. The average salary is skewed due to the players who have large, multimillion-dollar salaries. There is a large sum of players who make these large salaries. According to a recent count, 38 players make over $20 million, and 125 players make over $10 million.

What is the highest-paid position in baseball?

While most players who play for major league teams make the big bucks, pitching is one of the highest-paid positions. For a starting pitcher, the median salary is $5.2 million. The overall median for all pitchers is $2.8 million. “A survey of the most recent contracts shows 15 pitchers making more than $20 million.”

Along with pitchers, designated hitters and outfielders do well too. While a designated hitter is a position only seen in the American League, they make the most. The average income for a designated hitter is $13.4 million and the median is $14.3 million. Designated hitters have established themselves in the league and are considered to be an elite group. 

Outfielders get paid fairly similar to pitchers. Right fielders, for example, typically earn an average salary of $5.2 million, with a median salary of $3 million. With an average salary of $6.9 million and a median income of $3.5 million, first basemen are highly paid as well.

What is the lowest-paid position in baseball?

Shortstops typically receive lower salaries than the positions mentioned above. These players have an average salary of $2.6 million and a median income of $1 million.

Highest Paying MLB Teams

Major League Baseball players, as mentioned above, make strong salaries typically falling in the millions. While each player makes a large sum of money, the team they play for and their allotted total payrolls affect how much each individual player can and will make.

The top 10 highest paying Major League Baseball teams and their 2021 Total Payroll are:

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers: $250,366,491
  2. New York Yankees: $201,840,406
  3. New York Mets: $196,123,717
  4. Houston Astros: $192,393,452
  5. Philadelphia Phillies: $183,580,534
  6. Los Angeles Angels: $182,497,293
  7. Boston Red Sox: $176,587,851
  8. San Diego Padres: $173,153,757
  9. Washington Nationals: $170,364,820
  10. St. Louis Cardinals: $166,208,340

The payroll totals for each team include players’ base salaries, incentives, and any signing bonuses.

Major League Baseball vs. Other Professional Sports

So, how does the average salary per player compare across all professional sports? 

In a study done for the 2019-2020 seasons, it was found that the National Basketball Association (NBA) has the highest player wages worldwide. In the NBA, each player, on average, takes home around $8.32 million. Following behind the NBA, the Indian Premier League provides the second-highest player wages at $5.3 million. The Indian Premier League is an annual cricket competition “contested each year between eight franchises representing eight different Indian cities.”

While the wages each player in the NBA takes home are great, the average salaries do differ from one team to another similar to that of the MLB.

Major League Baseball ranks below the NBA and IPL with an average player salary of $4.03 in the 2019-2020 seasons. The National Football League is 5th in these rankings with an average player salary of $3.26 million.

How Have MLB Salaries Changed Over Time?

Modern baseball’s origin is considered to be the formal organization of the New York Knickerbocker Base Ball Club in 1842. Since then, the game has shifted some and rules have evolved. In 1958, the National Association of Base Ball Players was created. This was developed due to the potential profit that baseball could bring in. For the first All-Star Game, the admission fee was 50 cents (ticket prices sure have changed since then!) This association was composed of 22 teams and it banned players from making money by playing the sport. 

As baseball continued to become more popular, it was evident that there was a growing demand to watch the sport. Because of this, the sport became about earning profits. In 1871, the National Association, the first professional baseball league, charged a $10 franchise fee. Nowadays, that fee has skyrocketed. In 1998 when the most recent teams joined the MLB, a $130 million fee was charged a piece for the privilege of being in the league.

“The location and number of franchises have been a tightly controlled issue for teams since leagues were first organized.” How has the size and locations of the franchises within the league changed over time? In terms of location and size, Major League Baseball franchises have remained stable with the last expansion occurring in 1998.

When the National League was formed in 1876, professional teams fought for players and could award salaries. Then, players were earning as much as $4,500 per season, which at the time, was good money. Compared to the multi-million dollar contracts that baseball players today are signing, it is evident that the sport has evolved in many ways since its origin in 1842.

Final Thoughts

As a MiLB player himself in the Arizona Diamondbacks Organization, Ryan Weiss has a thorough understanding of the sport both on and off of the field. Ryan Weiss Baseball strives to help you accomplish your goals whether that be in:

  1. Weight lifting
  2. Throwing
  3. Mobility
  4. Conditioning

No goal is too small. With hard work and dedication, you can make strides to reaching your goals whether that be to play in the major leagues or just to better your overall performance. Ryan Weiss coaching and programs will provide you with the tools necessary to increase your strength, velocity, and consistency.

To play high school, college, or professional baseball, you need the fundamental skills that you can build upon as you continue to improve and evolve as a player. Our programs will jumpstart your training and provide you with guidance to develop these fundamentals. 



Be sure to check out Ryan Weiss's coaching program and his other training programs to elevate your game.