Breaking Down the Details of MLB’s $100 Million Playoff Bonus Pool

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Major League Baseball players have a unique incentive system that pays out bonuses for making the playoffs. Unlike salaries which are only paid during the regular season, the playoff bonus pool provides players with significant extra compensation for their postseason performance. Let’s break down how this over $100 million pool gets distributed.

How the Bonus Pool is Funded

The playoff bonus pool is funded by gate receipts (ticket sales) from the playoff games. A percentage of each game’s gate goes into the pool, with the players receiving 60% of the first 2 games in the Wild Card round, 60% of the first 3 Divisional Series games, 60% of the first 4 League Championship Series games, and 60% of the first 4 World Series games.

Playoff RoundPlayer Share
Wild Card Series60% of first 2 games
Division Series60% of first 3 games
League Championship Series60% of first 4 games
World Series60% of first 4 games

Bonus Pool Size Fluctuates

The total amount of money available fluctuates each year based on ticket prices, attendance, and the number of games played. In 2022, the pool hit a record $107.5 million thanks to expanded playoffs adding more Wild Card games. Compare that to $90.5 million in 2021.

YearTotal Bonus Pool
2021$90.5 million
2022$107.5 million

Teams Determine Individual Bonuses

Teams vote internally on allocating their portion of the pool to players and staff. Full shares generally go to players who spent the whole season on the roster. Part time players get partial shares, coaches and staff may receive cash bonuses.

For example, the World Series champion Houston Astros issued 59 full shares of $516,347 – the highest ever thanks to fewer shares. The runner-up Phillies issued 66 full shares of $296,255. Wild Card teams saw around $10,000 per full share.

Big Impact for Non-Star Players

While over $500,000 for winning the World Series is significant, it pales in comparison to salaries. The Astros’ Justin Verlander made $25 million this season. But for coaches, clubhouse staff, and new call-ups not making millions yet, the playoff bonus pool can make a major financial impact.

Emphasizes Team Over Individual Performance

MLB’s playoff bonus pool epitomizes baseball’s team focus. Rarely do you see star players rewarded directly. Rather, playoff money gets spread around the organization. The expanded playoffs have been a boon for players and teams alike when it comes to extra October income. If the trend continues, we could see the pool top $150 million in the near future.

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