How much do MLB bullpen catchers make?

by Fred Hofstetter on December 15, 2020

Let’s take a crack at estimating the average major league bullpen catcher salary. Then daydream about becoming one.

MLB Bullpen Catcher Salary 2020 Average

Bullpen catchers are workhorses. Photo via Flickr.

After scrupulous internet research of official and unofficial sources, incorporating the rate of inflation, economic trends, and everything besides the annual W-2s of actual bullpen catchers, I’d estimate professional major league bullpen catchers make somewhere between $60,000-$110,000 per year.

Estimates for how much money bullpen catchers make varies rather widely, and the most cited sources are a few years old now:

  • Fangraphs estimates $90,000/year on average in a 2016 article—an oft-cited number you’ll see referenced everywhere.
  • A 2018 article from Career Trend estimates a range of $30,000-$60,000.
  • If this was a Responsible Accredited Baseball Blog trusting only the most unquestioningly reputable governmental resources, I might say something like: According to 2019 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), coaches and scouts earn an average salary of $44,910 per year. The top 10% of earners can earn $78,890 per year or higher.
  • It’s worth noting the job can come with perks directly affecting a bullpen coach’s bottom line, like a daily per diem for days on the road (players get $30 a day but I’m not sure if this applies for coaches as well).

Disclaimer: if you are a bullpen catcher wondering if you deserve a raise, please don’t reference this. I’m guessing based on the information available. There aren’t enough professional bullpen catchers out there to justify a dedicated BLS category.

If you are reading this and are laughing about how wildly off base this is, please contact me directly and set the record straight.

The minor league bullpen catchers out there are probably chuckling at the idea of making a living as a college, AA or AAA bullpen catcher. Without looking I’m sure that’s a pipedream. In the minor leagues you are paid in character more than anything else. And I’m not sure how much that counts for.

Solid paycheck for a dream job, right?

  • Yes, it’s a dream job. You get to catch the best pitchers in the world every day and actually play a role in how they perform. You can give them tips (whether they listen to you or not). You are surrounded by greatness. You have dozens of awesome stories you can tell for the rest of your life to friends and family who will gaze at you in awe. You can become a cult hero for a passionate fanbase. You get to travel with the team all over the country. Every day you wake up, play baseball, and go to bed. Then you wake up and go play baseball again.
  • Not so fast. It’s a cool job, but it’s not the best Your duties are hard labor. The days are long, especially in spring training. You throw like crazy. You have to wear catcher’s gear all the time. And crouch a lot. You have to handle minutiae like sorting scuffed balls or rubbing mud into balls for pitchers. The idea of catching Aroldis Chapman every day sounds awesome, but the novelty wears off quick and eventually your glove hand is battered and bloody, and you can’t lift your throwing arm past your shoulder.

Certainly even the minimum $60,000 a year pulled in by the low end of my range is making a good living compared to the average living human. But there’s little glamor in the job other than an interview for an obscure blog or townie newspaper once a year or so.

Hats off to the hard-working bullpen catchers across MLB

2020 MLB bullpen catchers
Team Bullpen catcher(s)
Arizona Diamondbacks Dan Butler, Humberto Quintero
Atlanta Braves Jimmy Leo, Jose Yepez
Baltimore Orioles Ben Carhart
Boston Red Sox Kevin Walker
Chicago White Sox Miguel Gonzalez
Chicago Cubs Chad Noble
Cincinnati Reds Jose Duarte, Nate Irving
Cleveland Baseball Team Armando Camacaro, Ricky Pacione
Colorado Rockies Aaron Munoz
Detroit Tigers Jeremy Carroll, Time Remes
Houston Astros Javier Bracamonte
Kansas City Royals Ryan Eigsti
Los Angeles Angels Jason Brown, Manny Del Campo
Los Angeles Dodgers Steve Cilladi
Miami Marlins Koji Tanaka
Milwaukee Brewers Nestor Corredor, Adam Weisenburger
Minnesota Twins Garrett Kennedy, Connor Olson
New York Yankees Radley Haddad
New York Mets Eric Langill, Dave Racaniello
Oakland Athletics Dustin Hughes, Philip Pohl
Philadelphia Phillies Bob Stumpo, Greg Brodzinski
Pittsburgh Pirates Jordan Comadena
San Diego Padres Griffin Benedict, Peter Summerville
San Francisco Giants Taira Uematsu, Craig Albernaz
Seattle Mariners Fleming Baez
St. Louis Cardinals Jamie Pogue, Kleininger Teran
Tampa Bay Rays Misha Dworken, Jean Ramirez
Texas Rangers Josh Frasier
Toronto Blue Jays Alex Andreopoulos, Nevin Ashley
Washington Nationals Brett Austin

How do you get a job as a bullpen catcher?

Bullpen catchers, like Alex Andreopoulos, are typically former catchers who may or may not have ever reached the big leagues. You have to be competent behind home plate, and experienced enough to earn the respect of big league pitchers who aren’t going to take just any schmuck seriously.

Your best bet is to sign a minor league contract, toil in the minors making minimum wage or less for a few years, get really good but not good enough for the major leagues then eventually take a job as bullpen catcher after your final spring training as a pro catcher in your mid-30s.

You can potentially boost your job security by casually barehanding home run balls or reach meme celebrity status by dancing to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”:

Good luck finding job openings on Indeed or something. Or trying to find bullpen catcher tryouts. Unless you’re looking for a job with an independent/minor league team. Spoilers: the money won’t be great. Hope you love it.

I’ll pass on the full-time gig. But I can’t help but dream a little about being part of a ballclub, even as grunt labor. Icing my swollen glove hand every night.

The Screwball Times Logo

The latest articles

The Cloudbuster Nine Book Cover

Book Review: The Cloudbuster Nine - by Anne R. Keene

by Fred Hofstetter on January 30, 2024

Keene's comprehensive book tells several stories behind the V-5 Pre-Flight School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina: home to one of the rarest, greatest baseball teams in American history.

The Glory of Their Times Baseball Book

Book Review: The Glory of Their Times

by Fred Hofstetter on February 11, 2023

There's good reason why The Glory of Their Times appears on every "best baseball book of all time" list you'll find anywhere.

Future Value: The Battle for Baseball's Soul and How Teams Will Find the Next Superstar Book

Book Review: Future Value - Eric Longenhagen & Kiley McDaniel

by Fred Hofstetter on January 8, 2023

Discover how amateur and pro baseball scouting is done, how departments are built, and how organizations find talent in Future Value.

Kid Wearing Baseball Cap While Running Bases

Baseball players wear hats because wearing a hat is correct

by Fred Hofstetter on April 9, 2022

Practicality explains why baseball players may want to wear a billed cap. But why does every player always wear a hat? Because it’s the right thing to do.

View all articles