After all the talk of spending restraint during the offseason, the Yankees began the season Monday well ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers are at $214.8 million and only the second franchise to break the $200 million barrier, according to a study of big league contracts by The Associated Press.
Houston was last at $27.3 million, down from about $61 million opening day last year and less than the major league-leading $29 million for the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez. Houston's payroll is the lowest since the 2008 Florida Marlins were at $22 million.
Starting their first season in the American League, the Astros have lost 213 games during the past two years.
After an unsuccessful first season in their new ballpark and an offseason spent shedding stars, the Miami Marlins dropped from about $90 million to 29th at $44.7 million.
Fourteen teams topped $100 million, up from eight at the start of last season. Philadelphia was third at $160 million, followed by Boston ($157.6 million), AL champion Detroit ($150.5 million), the Los Angeles Angels ($141.9 million) and World Series champion San Francisco ($138 million).
Toronto was another team that changed its approach during the offseason, raising its payroll from $75 million to $118 million.
The average for the 856 players on active rosters and disabled lists plus the four players serving suspensions was $3.65 million, up 6.1 percent from $3.44 million at the start of last season and the steepest rise since 2008.
Million-dollar salaries rose by 15 to 463, which comes to 54 percent of players. The number of $10 million players increased from 89 to 103, and $20 million stars jumped from 14 to 21.
Just 44 players make the $490,000 minimum. The median salary, the point at which an equal number is above and below, rose by $187,500 to a record $1,262,500.
There were 102 players on disabled lists, one fewer than on opening day last year.
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