THE OVERALL big-league average rose 5.4 percent this season to a record $3.39 million, according to the annual report released yesterday by the Major League Baseball Players Association. The increase was the steepest since 2006.

In the economy at large, civilian compensation is increasing at an annual rate of 1.9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Yankees had the highest average for the 15th consecutive season at $8.17 million, breaking the mark of $7.66 million when they won the World Series in 2009. The Los Angeles Dodgers were second at $7.82 million.

The Houston Astros' average of $549,603 was the smallest since the 1999 Kansas City Royals at $534,460. The Miami Marlins were 29th at $830,069, down from $3.77 million in 2012, when they ranked 10th.

"We are watching both clubs closely, but were already aware what their 2013 spending would be and that there wasn't enough there to move beyond acknowledging as much," new union head Tony Clark said in an email to the Associated Press.

Among regulars at positions, designated hitters took over from first basemen for the highest average at $10.5 million. First basemen were next at $6.5 million, followed by starting pitchers at $6.3 million, second basemen at $5.8 million, outfielders at $5.6 million, third basemen at $5.2 million, shortstops at $4.5 million, catchers at $4.4 million and relief pitchers at $2.2 million,

Noteworthy

* The San Diego Padres have agreed with former Detroit Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit on a $15.5 million, 2-year contract, pending a physical, the Associated Press reported, citing a person familiar with the situation. In his first season as Tigers closer, Benoit, a former starter, had 24 saves in 26 chances. But in Game 2 of the AL Championship Series, he allowed a tying grand slam by Boston's David Ortiz that was a turning point in the series.

Benoit, who turns 37 on July 26, is expected to replace setup man Luke Gregerson, who was traded to Oakland for outfielder Seth Smith, or as a backup to often injured closer Huston Street.

The Padres also acquired infielder Ryan Jackson from the Houston Astros in exchange for infielder-outfielder Jesus Guzman.

* The Colorado Rockies reacquired lefthander Franklin Morales from the Boston Red Sox for versatile infielder Jonathan Herrera and picked up outfielder Drew Stubbs from the Cleveland Indians for reliever Josh Outman.

Morales is coming off a season in which he went 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA in 20 games for the World Series champion Red Sox.

* First baseman Eric Chavez, 36, reached an agreement to re-sign with the Arizona Diamondbacks for 1 year, a person with knowledge of the situation told the AP.

* Third baseman Casey McGehee, a 5-year major league veteran who played in Japan last season, agreed to a $1.1 million, 1-year contract with the Miami Marlins.