How Do MLB Players Get Paid? (Answered In Detail)
We all know that MLB players do pretty good for themselves even though the popularity of the league is in a slight decline, players still earn more than a decent chunk of cash.
Especially the biggest stars who often sign decade-long contracts worth astronomical amounts of money.
When we look at all the other sports in the US, baseball earnings rank at the very top.
While their average salaries still don’t match the earnings in the NBA, baseball pros are right behind and way ahead of the NFL, NHL, and other major sports leagues.
With all this money in and around the game and almost 1000 players on the league rosters, many wonder how the logistics of the MLB payroll work and how do MLB players get paid.
Below, I’ll dig deep into this and look into how MLB payments are scheduled and other specifics of MLB salaries.
How Do MLB Players Get Paid?
The way MLB players earn their salaries and get paid differs a bit from systems that are in place in other major sports in the US.
For starters, unlike American professional leagues in football, basketball, or hockey, Major League Baseball doesn’t feature a hard salary cap or salary floor.
This means two things.
Firstly, MLB teams can have a payroll that is not limited by the league and can be as high or as low as the teams want or can afford.
Secondly, the money players are paid is not tied to the overall revenue growth or loss across the league.
So, the player’s contract salary is guaranteed no matter how much revenue the league or their team generates.
However, the league does have a luxury tax, meaning that there are different tiers of financial penalties for teams that go over the set threshold for the overall payroll.
What Does MLB Player’s Salary Include?
The players’ earnings include a base salary, plus various bonuses and incentives that are individually negotiated with each player.
These bonuses are tied to the player’s performance during the season.
However, they can’t be tied to pitching or batting skill, or the team’s final position in the standings.
The most common performance incentives in contracts are tied to games played, started or finished, innings pitched (for pitchers), and plate appearances (for batters).
Plus, bonuses can be tied to various season awards.
According to the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement, which is applied from the 2022 season, the minimum annual base salary is $700.00 (up from $570.500 in the previous CBA).
On top of all this, players also receive daily allowances for food and gratuities when the team is on a road trip.
A small caveat here is that these rules apply to regular season payments, while postseason earnings are calculated differently.
How Often Do MLB Players Get Paid?
The main difference between payment schedules in the MLB and the majority of other major sports leagues is that baseball players are only paid during “championship season.”
The championship season implies only the regular season, so players don’t receive regular paychecks during the postseason, spring training, or the off-season.
This means that instead of 24 yearly installments during the whole calendar year, MLB players receive their salaries in 14 installments during the 7 months of the regular seasons, commonly from early April to late September.
Like most working Americans, ball players also typically receive their paychecks on the 1st and 15th of every month.
However, while this type of payment schedule is the most common, players still have the freedom to negotiate a separate payment plan with the club.
MLB Players’ Daily Stipends For Road Games
As I already noted, in addition to their base salary, MLB players also receive daily stipends that are supposed to cover their personal expenses, such as meals, while on the road in a different city.
According to the latest CBA, the daily stipend for food while traveling is $117.50, or $34.50 if the meals are already provided.
This is a fairly big raise from $30 which was the amount in the previous, 2016 labor contract.
Even though this may seem unnecessary to some, as players making millions would be able to afford lunch, these daily allowances are more than helpful to younger players or those playing on a minimal contract.
In addition to the money provided for meals, players are also guaranteed luxury hotel rooms while on the road.
Furthermore, the agreement also includes a guarantee that they won’t have to share a room with another player.
How Do MLB Players Get Paid In The Postseason?
Players in the MLB don’t receive salaries during the postseason. They do, however, receive bonuses depending on how far their team advances in the playoffs.
While regular salaries are not tied to the revenue, postseason bonuses are directly related to the money from postseason gate receipts.
A share of this money is set aside to form a player’s pool from which the bonuses are paid out.
Obviously, the team who wins the World Series will receive the highest percentage of the pool.
The player’s pool is formed from 50% of gate revenue in the Wild Card round and 60% of gate receipts in the first 3 games of the Divisional Series, the first 4 games of the League Championship, and the first 4 games of the World Series.
A share of the money also goes to the other club personnel and players on each team decide on that percentage by vote.
Do MLB Players Get Paid During Spring Training?
Again, regular salaries agreed by the contract are not paid to players during spring training.
This dates back to the earlier days when most of the players had winter jobs and only used spring training to get back into shape before the season.
This isn’t a big issue for MLB players as they will receive their full pay during the regular season.
However, the issue here is that spring training typically involves a large number of Minor League players or players without a contract.
According to the MLB, these players are not employed with the league and, therefore, don’t have a right to the salary.
On the other hand, legal representatives of the minor leaguers argue that they significantly contribute to teams’ earnings during the spring training and should be fairly compensated.
At the moment, spring training players only receive a small per diem allowance and daily meals.
What Are The Highest-Paid Positions In Baseball?
The list of the highest-paid players in the MLB, logically, includes the biggest stars in the league and players the team feel can contribute the most to the organization’s success.
A quick glance at this list reveals several different positions among the top earners, including center fielders, shortstops, third basemen, and others.
However, the list is clearly dominated by pitchers, which is hardly surprising as those are commonly the most popular players and the faces of the franchise.
Still, when looking at the average salary, things look a bit differently. The highest-paid position in the league on average is the designated hitter.
In 2021, the average salary of these players, mostly veterans, was $13.4 million. The DHs are followed by starting pitchers with $5.2 million of average income.
Outfielders are in third place and first basemen are right after them. The lowest average salary is earned, somewhat surprising, by shortstops.
How Do Minor League Players Get Paid?
The salaries of the Minor League players depend on two factors.
The first is whether they’re a part of a 40-man roster of an MLB team or are only on Minor League contracts.
The second factor deciding the pay of minor leaguers is the level at which they play.
For those under contract with the MLB team, a minimum salary is currently $57,200 for the six-month season on the first contract or $114,100 on the second or later contract.
These players mostly play Triple-A ball and if called up to the big league they earn the league’s minimum salary of $700.000 or $3,846 for each day on the Major League roster.
As for the MiLB level, the contracts vary from a minimum weekly salary of $400 at the rookie level, to $700 in Triple-A.
At Class-A the weekly pay is $500 and in Double-A the weekly minimum is $600.
As you can see, the way MLB players are paid is pretty unique in sports. They get paid twice a month like most of us, but only during the regular season.
This, of course, requires a certain level of financial responsibility from players as they won’t have any earnings for almost half a year, even though the amount of money they make in the other half is rather significant.
This is why some teams assign financial advisors to players, especially younger ones and rookies, to make sure they plan their spending responsibly.
Needless to say, we talked only about players’ salaries earned through contracts.
Many players, especially those more popular, have other sources of revenue, mainly through sponsorships and landing their name, image, and likeness to various campaigns.