AP NewsBreak: Yankees hit with $18.9M luxury tax
"You don't get a trophy for having the highest payroll," Cashman said. "I'm not going to feel weird either way, if we're the highest or we're not the highest. That's not the issue. Just want to be the best."
Philadelphia was second at $169.7 million, followed by Boston ($168.6 million), the Angels ($160.1 million), AL champion Detroit ($140.7 million) and World Series champion San Francisco ($138.1 million).
Even while shedding some stars during the season, Miami rose from $61.9 million to $89.9 million. The Marlins figure to drop to the bottom of spending next year after trading nearly all their veterans.
Among the big slashers were the New York Mets (from $142.2 million in 2011 to $103.7 million) and the Chicago Cubs (from $140.6 million to $107.7 million).
Oakland won the AL West despite the lowest payroll in the major leagues at $59.5 million. The division rival Angels rose from $143.1 million to $160.1 million yet still missed the playoffs. They added slugger Josh Hamilton this week with a $125 million, five-year deal set to be announced Saturday.
The Dodgers, sold during the season to a group headed by Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson, climbed from $109.9 million in 2011 to $129.1 million. In the last week they added pitchers Zack Greinke ($147 million over six years) and Ryu Hyun-jin ($36 million over six years).
The commissioner's office computed the average salary at a record 3,104,563, up 2.2 percent from last year's $3,039,161, The players' association, which uses a slightly different method, pegged the average at $3,213,479, up 3.8 percent.
Payroll figures are for 40-man rosters and include salaries and prorated shares of signing bonuses, earned incentive bonuses, non-cash compensation, buyouts of unexercised options and cash transactions, such as money included in trades. In some cases, parts of salaries that are deferred are discounted to reflect present-day values.
According to the collective bargaining agreement, checks to pay the luxury tax must be sent to the commissioner's office by Jan. 21.