The Los Angeles Dodgers’ MLB-leading $269 million payroll this season has virtually become common knowledge among baseball fans. Moreover, it makes the Dodgers the poster child for extravagance when it comes to spending on players.
Well, to lend a little more context that and strengthen the case of those who criticize teams like the Dodgers for their seemingly bottomless pit of money, 25 years ago, Dodgers first baseman Eddie Murray was the highest-earning player at his position and one of the highest paid in baseball with a salary of just over $2.5 million, via Darren Rovell of ESPN:
25 Years Ago: Most expensive MLB players at each position pic.twitter.com/gjgfJbjRlS
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) May 4, 2015
At first glance, it makes it nearly impossible to argue that players today deserve the enormous salaries they earn. However, if you look at the paradigm of sports 25 years ago and compare it to today’s model (flush with money from television deals), it begins to make sense. It may not provide a satisfactory answer to detractors, but it makes sense.
This multi-billion dollar influx is primarily why, according to a report by the Associated Press, the average MLB salary was $4.3 million at the start of this season, and why the Dodgers, who famously signed a 25-year television rights agreement with Time Warner Cable valued at $8.35 billion in 2013, have four players earning more than $20 million annually.
Additionally, the fact that more than 3 million tickets were sold prior to Opening Day for the 2015 season helps further quantify the rise in salaries from Murray’s $2.5 million to Clayton Kershaw’s $30 million today.