RONALD BLUM, AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — The rise in Major League Baseball’s average salary slowed this year as more players got hurt and wound up on the disabled list, leaving the increase at just under $14,000.
This season’s final average was $3,966,020, the Major League Baseball Players Association said Friday in its annual report, up just 0.35 percent from last year’s $3,952,252. That is the lowest rate of increase since a 2.5 percent drop in 2004.
The commissioner’s office has the Aug. 31 average at $3,825,967, down from $3,835,498 in 2015. The union includes a pro-rated share of option buyouts that may be earned if the option is declined, while MLB does not take those into account in its average.
MLB said total salaries increased from $3.58 billion last year to $3.69 billion for those on Aug. 31 rosters and disabled lists.
There were 964 players on active rosters and DLs on Aug. 31, the last day before the player limit expanded from 25 per team to 40. That is up from 933 last year, and most of the additional players have relatively little major league service time and earn close to the minimum, which was $507,500 this year.
Injuries caused 561 DL placements that led to more than 31,500 days spent on the DL this year, both records.
Baseball’s average salary declines during the season as some veterans are released and replaced by younger players. The union calculated the opening day average at $4,476,058 for 865 players and the commissioner’s office at $4,365,822 for 860.
Since the union started tracking salaries in 1967, the final average has dropped just three times, also falling in 1987, a year teams were found by an arbitrator to have conspired against signing free agents, and 1995, following a 7 1/2-month players’ strike that decimated revenue. The 2004 drop was in the second season after a luxury tax was imposed to restrain spending by some clubs.
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