The percentage of Major League Baseball players born outside the United States rose to its third-highest level.
The commissioner’s office said Thursday that among the 856 players on opening day rosters, 243 were born outside the 50 states. The 28.4 percentage is up from 27.7 last year and trails only 2005 (29.2) and 2007 (29.0).
The Dominican Republic led with 95 players, four shy of its high in 2007. Venezuela set its high with 66, four more than last year.
Canada (15) was next, followed by Japan (13), Cuba and Puerto Rico (11 each), Mexico (nine), Panama (seven), Curacao and Australia (four apiece), Nicaragua (three), Taiwan (two), and Colombia, Italy and South Korea (one each).
Puerto Rico’s total was its fewest since MLB started tracking the data in 1995 and is down from 28 in 2009.
Kansas City has the most players born outside the 50 states with 13, trailed by Colorado and the New York Yankees (12 each).
Figures include active rosters, 103 players on the disabled list and four on the restricted list.
More teams spending more
The rest of baseball is starting to catch up with the big spenders.
The Miami Marlins, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels all had hefty boosts in payroll during the offseason along with the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals, according to a study of major league contracts by The Associated Press.
Some traditional high rollers had huge drops, including the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.
The New York Yankees, of course, remain the cash king and topped $200 million on opening day for the fifth consecutive year. And at $30 million, the Yanks’ Alex Rodriguez remains the richest of the richest, baseball’s highest-paid player for the 12th straight season.
The MLB average salary rose 4.1 percent to $3.44 million, the steepest hike since 2008.
Around the majors
General manager Mike Rizzo said the Washington Nationals have no intention of trading pitcher John Lannan, who expressed his frustration to reporters about being sent to the minors. Last year, Lannan made 33 starts, going 10-13 with a 3.70 ERA. … The family of Gary Carter unveiled a memorial logo on the outfield wall at Citi Field in honor of the late Hall of Fame catcher as part of the New York Mets’ opening-day ceremonies. The logo is a black symbol shaped like home plate with “Kid” above an “8” – Gary’s nickname and number from his 19-year playing career. Carter died of a brain tumor in February. He was 57.
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