What Do NPB Baseball Players Make 2017

Here’s a list (from a guy who has been providing a great deal of English language information on NPB salaries the last couple of years) of the 105 best paid players in Japan’s NPB in 2017.  From what I know about the subject, his numbers look spot on.

Three players are making 500 million yen (about $4.5 million at current exchange rates) this season: Ernesto Mejia, Chihiro Kaneko, and Dennis Sarfate.  Mejia is a slugger who hit 96 home runs for the Seibu Lions from 2014-2016, Kaneko is probably the best Japanese starter of recent seasons not to make a stab at MLB, and Sarfate is almost unquestionably the best foreign closer in NPB history.

Former NY Yankee Hiroki Kuroda made 600 million yen (about $5.4M) in 2016, but he retired after the season, perhaps in some part due to the fact that his team, the Hiroshima Carp, was reluctant to continue paying him this kind of money for merely very good performance.

The twelve players tied for 94th place on the list are making a cool 100 million yen, or $900,000, which is a lot less than what MLB stars make.  In fact, the average MLB salary in 2017 is reported to be $4.47 million, which is at least ten times more than the average NPB salary.  In fact, given that the NPB salary structure is similar to MLB (a relatively small number of very highly paid stars compared to a much larger number of players who make less than the average), I would guess that a majority of NPB players will earn less than $300,000 this season.

The numbers in the list apparently do not include performance bonuses, which can be substantial, particularly for foreign players.  By the same token, KBO teams, despite substantially smaller revenue streams, are now paying the best foreign pitcher prospects first year salaries of $1.5M to $1.8M, which is why some of the best available players from the Americas are now going to South Korea instead of Japan.

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