Athletic Bilbao / Atlético Madrid
Salinas was born in Bilbao, Biscay, joining Athletic Bilbao's youth academy at the age of 11. In 1983–84 he won the second division's Pichichi Trophy award, as he helped the reserves finish runners-up to Castilla CF. During two seasons he also played 13 games for the first team, scoring his first La Liga goal on 26 March 1983 in a 4–0 home win over Celta de Vigo as the captured back-to-back league titles and added the 1984 Copa del Rey.
After two more seasons with Bilbao, netting 12 goals combined for two-third-place finishes, Salinas moved to Atlético Madrid, where he scored an impressive 31 from 1988 to 1990 (including two on 7 February 1988, in a 7–0 home thrashing of RCD Mallorca).
The Barcelona years
Salinas signed for FC Barcelona for 1988–89, linking up with several other Basque players, including veteran José Ramón Alexanko, José Mari Bakero, Txiki Begiristain and Ion Andoni Goikoetxea – these would help form the backbone of the legendary Dream Team. He scored 20 league goals in his debut campaign as Barça finished second to Real Madrid, and he also netted in both the 1989 Cup Winners' Cup final against U.C. Sampdoria and in the following year's domestic cup 2–0 win over Real Madrid.
In the subsequent seasons, Salinas appeared sparingly for the club due to his age and the emergence of attacking players as Hristo Stoichkov, but would still manage to grab some important goals in spite of limited playing time. On 30 January 1994, after coming in as a second-half against Albacete Balompié, he scored both goals in a 2–1 home win, as he only played in another six games during the season, with Barcelona eventually achieving four league titles in a row.
Upon leaving Catalonia, Salinas played for Deportivo de La Coruña, helping to a runner-up finish in his only season. Although not a regular in the starting lineups he finished with 12 league goals, only surpassed by club great Bebeto; as a late replacement at the Camp Nou on 3 December, he netted in a 1–1 draw after a header from José Luis Ribera.
After the signing of, among others, Russian Dmitry Radchenko, Salinas was deemed surplus to requirements, joining Sporting de Gijón where he scored 18 goals in the 1995–96 campaign, crucial in helping the Asturians avoid relegation. He was held in high regards in the city during his one-and-a-half-year spell, with the fans often singing: "Bota de oro, Salinas bota de oro!" ("Golden boot, Salinas, golden boot!").
Salinas then had an abroad stint with Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan, where he again showcased his scoring skills, teaming up with former Barcelona teammate Goikoetxea. He then returned close to home, having played his last two seasons with Deportivo Alavés where he notably scored in 1999–2000's opener, a 2–1 home defeat of Málaga CF– his team finished sixth, and would go on to reach the following year's UEFA Cup final.
On 19 May 2000, Salinas played his last professional match, scoring in a 2–1 loss at his first team Athletic Bilbao. He retired at nearly 38 with 417 matches and 152 goals, in the Spanish top flight alone.