Even before the first pitch of the 2015 season is thrown, an eye-popping baseball record will be set.
The average salary when opening-day rosters are finalized Sunday will break the $4 million benchmark for the first time, according to a study of all major-league contracts by the Associated Press. Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw tops players at $31 million and Los Angeles projects to open the season with a payroll at about $270 million, easily a record.
The Phillies are projected to have the ninth-highest payroll at $135.8 million.
Fueled by the largest two-year growth in more than a decade, the average salary projects to be about $4.25 million, according to the AP study, with the final figure depending on how many players are put on the disabled list before the first pitch is thrown. That is up from $3.95 million on the first day of last season and $3.65 million when 2013 began.
Baseball's average was approximately $50,000 in 1976, the last year before free agency. Back then, many players took offseason jobs to pay their bills.
The Chicago Cubs are promising to monitor dust and noise to ensure Wrigley Field renovation work doesn't spoil games for fans and players alike.
Not everything associated with the $575 million, multiyear project to renovate the 101-year-old stadium will be ready, but the Cubs said the huge video board in left field will be operational, the ivy-covered outfield wall has been reassembled, and restored statues of Ernie Banks and Ron Santo also will be back in place.
Crews remain on track to open the expanded bleachers in left and center fields in May and the right-field bleachers in June. Work on an elevator will interfere with views from about 75 seats.
Chris Tillman will start Baltimore's opener at Tampa Bay on Monday. It will be his second straight opening start. Tillman was 13-6 with a 3.34 ERA last season for the AL East champion Orioles.
Toronto named Drew Hutchison to make his first opening-day start, against the Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka on Monday in New York.
Pitcher Freddy Garcia has agreed to a minor- league contract with Los Angeles, which agreed to pay reliever Mike Adams a $100,000 retention bonus and told pitcher Dustin McGowan that it plans to release him.
Garcia, a 38-year-old righthander, was 4-7 with a 4.37 ERA for Baltimore and Atlanta in 13 starts and four relief appearances in 2013.