NEW YORK — The rest of Major League Baseball is starting to catch up with the big spenders.
According to a study of MLB contracts by the Associated Press, the Florida Marlins, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels all had big boosts in payroll during the offseason along with the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals.
Some traditional high rollers had huge drops, including the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.
The New York Yankees, of course, remain the cash king. They topped $200 million on opening day for the fifth consecutive year. And at $30 million, Yankees infielder Alex Rodriguez remains the richest of the richest, MLB’s highest-paid player for the 12th straight season.
The big league average salary rose 4.1 percent to $3.44 million, the steepest hike since 2008.
The percentage of MLB players born outside the US rose to its third-highest level.
The commissioner’s office said Thursday that among the 856 players on opening day rosters, 243 were foreign-born. The 28.4 percentage is up from 27.7 last year and trails only 2005 (29.2) and 2007 (29.0).
The Dominican Republic led with 95 players, four shy of its high in 2007. Venezuela set its high with 66, four more than last year.
Canada (15) was next, followed by Japan (13), Cuba and Puerto Rico (11 each), Mexico (nine), Panama (seven), Curacao and Australia (four apiece), Nicaragua (three), Taiwan (two), and Colombia, Italy and South Korea (one each). Puerto Rico’s total was its fewest since MLB started tracking the data in 1995 and is down from 28 in 2009.
Kansas City has the most foreign-born players with 13, trailed by Colorado and the New York Yankees (12 each). — Agencies