MAJOR LEAGUE Baseball's average salary shot up to more than $3.8 million this year following the steepest rise since 2001, putting big leaguers on track to top the $4 million barrier for the first time in 2015.

The Major League Baseball Players Association said yesterday the average salary was $3,818,923, up from $3,386,212 last year. The 12.78 percent hike was the biggest since a 12.83 percent rise from 2000 to '01.

Player salaries are spurting after several years of more modest gains. The increase is fueled by record revenue in the $9 billion range, much of it from national television contracts and club deals with regional sports networks.

Noteworthy

* San Francisco righthander Jake Peavy finalized a 2-year, $24 million contract.

* Catcher David Ross agreed to a 2-year, $5 million, contract with the Chicago Cubs, reuniting him with former Boston batterymate Jon Lester. Chicago also claimed lefthanded pitcher Mike Kickham off waivers from San Francisco. The Cubs also said that catcher Ryan Lavarnway was claimed off waivers by Baltimore and first baseman Shane Peterson was claimed by Milwaukee.

* St. Louis reliever Jordan Walden agreed to a 2-year, $6.6 million contract that avoided salary arbitration.

* Mets minor league second baseman L.J. Mazzilli, a son of former major leaguer Lee Mazzilli, was suspended for 50 games after a second positive drug test.

* Toronto claimed lefthander Scott Barnes off waivers from Texas and righty Preston Guilmet from Pittsburgh.

* Miami claimed reliever Preston Claiborne off waivers from the New York Yankees.