Average MLB salary rose 9 percent in '06

NEW YORK -- Baseball salaries were booming even before the
free-agent escalation that began more than a month ago.

The average salary shot up 9 percent this year to $2,699,292,
according to final figures released Wednesday by the Major League
Baseball Players Association. The increase was the highest since a
12.8 percent rise in 2001 and makes it likely the $3 million mark
will be broken next year or in 2008.

"The increase in the average salary is a reflection of the
growth in overall industry revenues, and that while the sport still
has significant economic challenges, the increased average is a
reflection of the level of the talent on the field," said Bob
DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer.

Baseball salaries are soaring, with Alfonso Soriano ($136
million), Vernon Wells ($126 million) and Carlos Lee ($100 million)
agreeing to nine-figure deals since the end of the season, boosting
baseball's total of $100 million contracts to 11.

Still, no one has approached Alex Rodriguez's record $252
million, 10-year contract, agreed to after the 2000 season.

The New York Yankees had the highest average salary for the
eighth consecutive season, but their average dropped to $6.95
million from a record $7.39 million the previous year.

Houston was second at $4.28 million, up from ninth place in
2005. Boston was third at $3.99 million, down from $4.17 million
the previous season, followed by the New York Mets ($3.86 million),
the Chicago White Sox ($3.81 million) and the World Series champion
St. Louis Cardinals ($3.78 million).

The AL champion Detroit Tigers were ninth at $3.06 million, up
from 15th.

Florida's average of $594,722 was the lowest in the major
leagues since 1999, when Kansas City was at $534,460, the Marlins
at $561,111 and Montreal at $572,290.

Among the teams with the 10 highest averages, only San Francisco
($3.8 million) had a losing record (76-85). Among clubs with the 12
lowest averages, the only one with a winning record was Toronto

Third basemen had the highest average among positions ($5.87
million), followed by first basemen ($5.78 million), designated
hitters ($5.59 million), outfielders ($4.88 million), starting
pitchers ($4.87 million), shortstops ($4.06 million), second
basemen ($2.79 million) and relievers ($1.43 million).

Figures were based on Aug. 31 rosters and disabled lists and do
not account for money owed to released players or payments teams
make or receive to cover parts of salaries of players who have been

The commissioner's office has not computed its final figure,
which usually differs from that of the union because of calculation