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Rays owner says team payroll will drop in 2011

Feb 16, 2010, 2:52 PM EDT

During a radio interview last night Rays owner Stuart Sternberg revealed that the team’s payroll will likely decrease significantly after this season:

We did out-spend ourselves last year and completely out-spent ourselves this year, and we’ll feel the effects of that next year.

Adding about $10 million in the form of Rafael Soriano and Kelly Shoppach this offseason puts the Rays’ current payroll at around $72 million after spending approximately $70 million last year.
Asked what the Rays’ payroll will look like come 2011, Sternberg said: “It won’t be 70 and it won’t be 60.” Presumably that means somewhere in the $50 million range, which would basically be a return to the 2008 payroll of $51 million.
However, several of the team’s key players have gotten more expensive since then and in particular Carl Crawford will be a free agent after making $10 million this season. If the Rays are indeed dropping from $70 million to $50 million or so, re-signing Crawford (or fellow impending free agents Soriano and Carlos Pena) figures to be very difficult.

  1. Josh in DC - Feb 16, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    This is terrible news.

  2. Don - Feb 16, 2010 at 3:17 PM

    WHAT?
    Finally after showing your no longer a basement doormat team, you want to slash payroll by 20 million dollars. I know the farm system is stacked, but what kind of management system is being run in Tampa.
    If I were a fan of this team, I would openly asked to see the books. Between the increase of attendance, revenue sharing, they should still be able to pull a nice profit with thier current payroll.

  3. Rays fan - Feb 16, 2010 at 3:24 PM

    ARRRGH!
    After reaching relevancy following the Twins model, this makes it look like we should expect to follow the Marlins model.

  4. Don - Feb 16, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    I did a quick check for refence. The teams average ticket price was $18.35 and the 2009 attendance was 1,874,962 million people and it makes thier gate revenue an estimated mean value of 34,405,552. I am not fully aware of the collective shared money or money that is given as a result of the luxuary tax, but lets say a modest 60 million. 94 million dollars were made off tickets and revenue sharing. I would think operating costs would be easily covered by consessions, etc… They should be able to afford a 70 million payroll.

  5. Richard Dansky - Feb 16, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    After this season, they have at least $26.5M coming off the books with the Burrell, Pena, and Soriano contracts. So it’s not /quite/ as bad as it sounds.

  6. Alan - Feb 16, 2010 at 3:47 PM

    I dunno that this such a big deal. Relative to just about every other team in baseball there’s simply not a lot of revenue coming in — poor media market, frustratingly poor attendance, lousy ballpark with no new one on the horizon. (I know “lousy” isn’t as colorful a term as Old Gator would use but it’s all I’ve got.) In fairness to Sternberg, he HAS spent money to keep the team competitive despite all this, which, just as a for instance, Jeffrey Loria has steadfastly refused to do. And there’s plenty of money still being spent on scouting and player development, increasingly so internationally. If the window closes on the Rays in 2011, there’s no reason to think that it won’t open again or that Sternberg won’t open his wallet when it does.

  7. yankees27 - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:20 PM

    Thats why the Yankees rule. They did it the old fashion way in the 1920′s and now they do it with the Big Bucks. If Tampa and other shit Owners are unwilling to spend dollars to make them competitive i say Tar and Feather them and get them the F*ck out of baseball. The guy looks like a faggot anyway.

  8. moreflagsmorefun - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:29 PM

    In other breaking baseball news, Rays owner will get a big bonus this year. he needed the money.

  9. moreflagsmorefun - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:33 PM

    I agree with everything but the last line, Sternberg is setting the Ray fan up for when Crawford signs to play Center field for the Yankees, they won’t even extend a contract offer, the Yankees will be blamed for ALL of this anyway but who cares.

  10. BC - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:52 PM

    Adding Burrell really hosed them.

  11. Old Gator - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    On one hand, you Rays fans have this crotchety old Feesh fan’s sincere sympathy. I know how you’re feeling now. But at least your owner didn’t resort to the kind of Orwellian Chihuahuaspeak we get from Scrooge McLoria’s Herve Villachaize impersonator of a son-in-law, who calls such regressions into faux-penury a “market correction.”
    .
    Here’s your response: pack the Tropicana Dump this year to show your approval of an effort to make the team genuinely competitive, which will ennoble you in the eyes of your fellow fans not only for your team spirit but for your indomitability for enduring repeated exposures to that gunite manure heap of a building, but don’t go to the goddamned games next season. Even an MLB owner isn’t too stupid to figure out a message telecast in dollars and cents, you know?
    .
    Oh, wait a minute – that doesn’t take Loria into consideration, does it?

  12. Old Gator - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:58 PM

    Thanks for that gratuitous dollop of trailer trash homophobia, Borg boy. This discussion had been entirely too rational before you showed up.

  13. Rays fan - Feb 16, 2010 at 5:10 PM

    Do you and Alan not like our unique venue? What’s wrong with a dome that looks like a squashed mushroom? Okay, I know I just answered my own question.

  14. Rays fan - Feb 16, 2010 at 5:12 PM

    Classy. Also, why bother with the asterisk in the F-bomb when you spell out your other expletives? Is that one single word too coarse?

  15. Old Gator - Feb 16, 2010 at 5:31 PM

    And that’s only what’s wrong with theoutside. I’ve actually been inside that wretched excuse for a stadium and…Hey! Look out! That goddamned blimp is heading right at….

  16. Alan - Feb 16, 2010 at 6:22 PM

    Hey, I’ll tell you something: If the fans really do pack the Trop this year, don’t be surprised if Sternberg spends more in the offseason than he’s saying. A few times already he’s boosted the payroll beyond what he said he intended to. He’s not Loria.

  17. JayT - Feb 16, 2010 at 6:53 PM

    Are you sure he wasn’t putting an upper and a lower bound on the payroll? I read it to mean that it won’t be $70 million, but it also won’t be as low as $60 million.

  18. Old gator - Feb 16, 2010 at 8:02 PM

    How do you spell r-e-l-i-e-f? “He’s not Loria.” Hope you’re right. Sunshine Sports and FSN broadcast the Rays here in Macondo and I watch them regularly, so if the Feesh implode from financial anemia this season, which I really expect them to do, it’d be nice to have a team whose games I’m already paying to watch that’ll be worth watching. That, and a healthy rivalry across the Alley would be good for both teams – although, of course, I’m assuming that some day the Feesh will have a real owner.
    .
    Used to do the “Citrus Series” road trips regularly but, when that cheapskate Golem who owns the team discontinued them, I kinda lost interest. Huizinga used to rent a train and we’d be out of here at 6AM on game day, spend a few fun hours bullshitting baseball back and forth and enjoying the game even when that stupid blimp was trying to give us a haircut – then Henry and then Loria switched to buses, which of course were faster than our late neolithic railroad system, and then Uncle Pucker and the Chihuahua axed the buses as well. But we’ve got great memories.

  19. Preston - Feb 16, 2010 at 9:53 PM

    Don, your supposedly “modest” figure of $60 million from revenue sharing is actually way overblown. From the numbers I’ve found, Tampa Bay has not received more than $36 million per year in revenue sharing. When you consider that major league teams do have expenses beyond the major league payroll (for example, about $10 million a year towards the draft and international signings), I would tend to say that a payroll in the $50-60 million dollar range is hardly unreasonable, especially if they’ve been losing money the last two years as the owner suggests. And keep in mind that the Rays tend to spend their money very wisely, and they will continue to have an infusion of young, cheap talent over the next couple years.

  20. Rays fan - Feb 16, 2010 at 11:11 PM

    I blame the miniblimp on the same marketing team that brought the White Sox Disco Demolition Night.

  21. Andrew - Feb 17, 2010 at 12:32 AM

    This is sad news. I hope the Rays at least go for it this year. Even if that means adding players by giving up prospects since they cannot or will not take on payroll.
    If they were going to do this in 2-3 years It would be the natural cycle of things, but they have a realistic chance of being better then at least one of the yankees / red sox for at least another 2 or 3 years.

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