Alex Rodriguez will make more this year than all the Houston Astros combined — a lot more.
And he won’t even play the first half of the season, if at all.
A-Rod’s $29 million salary tops Major League Baseball for the 13th straight season, according to a study of major league contracts by the Associated Press.
Rodriguez’s Yankees are on track to have the highest payroll on opening day for the 15th straight year, climbing above the Los Angeles Dodgers to a projected $228 million with this week’s acquisition of Vernon Wells.
With teams due to set opening-day rosters Sunday, the Yankees’ payroll will be nearly 10 times the spending of the Astros, who have shrunk their payroll to about $25 million.
“No one expects us to do well,” Astros pitcher Lucas Harrell said. “So when we do well, it’s going to be kind of like, ‘Oh, wow.’ I definitely think we have a chance to shock a lot of people this year.”
Rodriguez, recovering from hip surgery, is followed on the money list by Philadelphia pitcher Cliff Lee at $25 million.
Three of the top six will start the season on the disabled list, with A-Rod joined by New York Mets pitcher Johan Santana (third at $24.6 million) and Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira (sixth at $23.1 million). Wells is fourth at $24.6 million and CC Sabathia fifth at $24.3 million, giving the Yankees four of the top six.
The Astros and Miami Marlins have no such worries about pricey players getting hurt. After lifting payroll to about $100 million at the start of last year and then flopping in the first year of their new ballpark, the Marlins slashed spending to around $40 million. Houston’s active payroll for its 25-man roster will be about $19 million, the lowest in the major leagues since the 2006 Florida Marlins at $15 million.
Tigers demote Rondon
The Detroit Tigers will start their AL title defense without a set closer after optioning rookie reliever Bruce Rondon to Triple-A Toledo on Thursday.
Luis Marte also was optioned to Toledo, leaving the Tigers with seven relievers and five starting pitchers on their active roster ahead of Monday’s opener at Minnesota. Detroit’s bullpen includes Joaquin Benoit, Octavio Dotel, Al Alburquerque and Brayan Villareal along with left-handers Drew Smyly, Darin Downs and Phil Coke.
The New York Mets say Johan Santana injured his left shoulder again and likely will need surgery and miss the 2013 season. ... The Baltimore Orioles put right-hander Chris Tillman on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left abdominal muscle. ... San Diego Padres third baseman Logan Forsythe will miss at least six weeks with plantar fasciitis. Chase Headley is on the disabled list another two to four weeks with a fractured thumb. ... New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira is out until May with a wrist injury.
Around the league
The Orioles reassigned outfielder Trayvon Robinson to their minor-league camp. .... The San Francisco Giants re-signed reliever Ramon Ramirez to a contract with Triple-A Fresno. ... J.C. Gutierrez earned the final spot in the Kansas City Royals’ bullpen. Kansas City optioned right-hander Louis Coleman to Triple-A Omaha and assigned Dan Wheeler to its minor-league camp. ... The St. Louis Cardinals will wear a patch on their left sleeves this season to honor the memory of Stan Musial, the hall of famer, who died in January.