Major League Soccer teams Toronto and Seattle are among the top three global sports teams with the biggest pay increase year-on-year in percentage terms, according to a new Nick Harris global salary survey released on Monday by ESPN The Magazine.
Toronto had the biggest jump of all sports teams with a 256-percent increase in average salary to $600,000 per player, which was largely because of the signing of three marquee names: England international star Jermain Defoe, midfielder Michael Bradley and Brazilian forward Gilberto.
The Houston Astros baseball team had the second-largest increase at 97 percent, but the third biggest increase belonged to another MLS team, the Sounders, who were up 90 percent, largely because of the signing of striker Clint Dempsey, according to the survey.
Dempsey is the the highest-paid player in MLS at $6.695 million in guaranteed compensation this season, more money than the total player payrolls of 15 of the 19 MLS clubs.
Half of the 12 players who make at least $1 million play for Toronto FC or the Los Angeles Galaxy, according to figures released by the MLS Players Union on Thursday.
Toronto made a splash this offseason by bringing in U.S. national team midfielder Bradley from Roma and England veteran Defoe from Tottenham Hotspur. The duo are the league's highest-paid players after Dempsey, with Bradley earning $6.5 million and Defoe pulling in $6.18 million.
They also share the highest base salary of $6 million each. Dempsey's base salary is $4.9 million, but his annualized signing and guaranteed bonuses put him over the top.
Manchester City retained their place as the world's best-paid team by average first-team player, at $8.1 million per man. But Real Madrid and Barcelona, who employ Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, respectively, have both fallen one place each as two baseball teams, the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, now claim the No. 2 and No. 3 spots.
The best paying soccer league, the EPL, has an average salary of $3,468,364.
Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona are among the top five global sports teams in average salary and total payroll.
The survey included 294 sports teams in 15 leagues across 12 countries in seven sports.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.