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Yankees lead Opening Day payrolls at $202 million, followed by Phillies and Red Sox

Apr 4, 2011, 1:52 PM EDT

stack of money

USA Today has compiled the Opening Day payrolls for all 30 teams and to the surprise of no one the Yankees lead the way by a wide margin, as their $202 million payroll is $30 million higher than the second-ranked Phillies and $40 million more than the next-closest AL team, the Red Sox.

Those three teams have the only payrolls above $150 million, but at the opposite end of the spectrum the Royals, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Indians, and Padres are each under $50 million in total salaries.

MLB’s lowest payroll belongs to the Royals at $36 million, which is just 18 percent of the Yankees’ total and only slightly more than the $31 million New York will be paying Alex Rodriguez alone this season. The average Royals player makes $1.3 million, while the average Yankees player makes $6.8 million.

Add it all up and the average Opening Day payroll is $92.8 million. To put that into some context, consider that in 2000 the Yankees had MLB’s highest payroll at $92.9 million.

  1. CajoleJuice - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    The Mets being second in standard deviation shows just how top-heavy their roster is.

  2. minnesconsin - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    if the twins tank early this year, I’m pulling for the Royals. I thought JoePo’s piece in the 3/21 Sports Illustrated was patently insane in its predictions, but that’s not to say it wouldn’t be a great story.

  3. stevem7 - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    While I have no problem with reporting team salaries I wish, just once, that the reporter who thinks it important enough to publish it also be responsible enough to publish how much each team receives in revenue sharing money. It’s easy to say the Yankees are paying $202M on opening day and the Royals are only paying $36M but we need some context. Baseball is a $7B annual business and if you take $1B off for MLB itself you have 30 teams divvying up $6B which means each team is getting about $200M a year. Thats a lot of money that ISN’T being spent by those 5 teams under $50M in salary isn’t it?

    • Ari Collins - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:20 PM

      Is that how revenue sharing works? I don’t think that much money is divided evenly. Or is it?

      • indyralph - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:58 PM

        It’s not how it works. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything documenting all the details. MLB does it best to keep team financials quiet so as not to give the union ammo for negotiations, so it’s hard to find good information. But a quick check of the Forbes article (that was linked at HBT less than 2 weeks ago) blows right through stevenm7’s rant. The Yankees had over $400 million of revenue, net of revenue sharing. Plus the article mentions that the YES network had over $400 million of revenue (not subject to revenue sharing). Overall baseball revenues were $6.1 B. So the Yankees $400 M (net of revenue sharing) is more than double the $203 M you would get if you split the $6.1 evenly over 30 teams. And that doesn’t account for the regional sports network which distort it even more.

      • indyralph - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:03 PM

        There are, I should point out, a handful of teams in the bottom half of the league in revenue (theoretically receiving revenue sharing) but the top half in operating income: Padres, Nationals, Orioles, Pirates, A’s, Marlins and Reds. Only the first 4 had an operating income enough to add C.C. Sabathia without losing money. And the Orioles and Pirates would have made less than $1M.

    • b7p19 - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:00 PM

      Thats not an accurate comment…

  4. purdueman - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    There’s really no surprising news here. Everyone realized that when the Phillies bit down hard to acquire Oswalt, sign Lee and then NOT trade Blanton that it would shoot their payroll up into the high roller zone.

    Unless Hank and Hal prove to be more worried about lining their pockets with the profits (they already have been mewling and bellyaching about having to pay so much revenue sharing and luxury tax money out, not to mention Hank’s obvious jealousy of the mansion that employee Jeter is building in Tampa). I’d expect the Yankee to add an $8–$10M left handed veteran starter between now and the All Star break.

    My bet it that the reason the Yankees have held off seeking one in trade is because they likely are holding out hope that they can lure Andy Pettite back in June with the same kind of “all about me” deals that they gave Clemens (i.e., only have to be with the team when it’s your day to pitch, private jet service to/from your home in Texas as often as you want it, etc.).

    If Pettite though decides to remain retired, I still say that the best trading partner is likely to be the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox want to move lefty sensation Sale into their starting rotation next season which means that either Mark Buerhle or John Danks need to go in order to open up a spot in the starting rotation (and the Sox are unlikely to retain both with Danks coming up on a huge contract extension).

    The Yankees have the starting pitching prospects that the White Sox will seek in any deal, as the White Sox will let Edwin Jackson walk at the end of the season as a FA (he’s a Bor-ass guy and Sox ownership refuse to play Bor-ass’ little games when it comes to free agents). It’s just an ideal match for both sides, as once Jake Peavy is back in the White Sox rotation they can afford to trade one of their five proven veteran starters (trading Jackson is also of course a possibility).

    If the Yankees make no moves to shore up the starting pitching and miss the playoffs, there just might be a hot tar and feather night to honor Hank and Hal the first weekend in October at Yankee Stadium, and frankly I wouldn’t blame Yankee fans one bit should that come to pass!

    • Ari Collins - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:26 PM

      Even if they want to put Sale in the rotation next year (I was under the impression he was going to relieve), Buehrle and Jackson will be leaving at the end of the year, so that’s not really an issue.

      But more importantly, the White Sox are supremely unlikely to trade any of those guys when they should be in contention all year. If they fall out of it, maybe things change.

    • Jonny 5 - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:43 PM

      I don’t see the WS moving a pitcher when they plan to be a contender this season. By the time they lose hope, if they lose hope, it will be late in the season. I see them going very deep this season and it isn’t a stretch to call them as Div champs. I’m just guessing like you are though. I think the Yanks will pick up a pitcher as well, I just don’t think it’ll be one of the guys you mentioned as they may be needed for the playoffs.

      • purdueman - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:09 PM

        jonny, fair enough post, but you can never put anything past Chicago’s ADD GM Kenny Williams. I swear sometimes he makes deals simply because he gets ticked off (as he did when he basically dumped Swisher because he had become such a pain the ass), or simply bored when he made the inexplicable trade of solid left handed power hitting prospect Brandon Allen to the D-Backs for journeyman middle reliever Tony Pena.

        No White Sox fan saw the Brandon Mc Carthy trade to Texas coming (for John Danks), albeit that was after the season had ended.

        Yes, Sale’s slated for the bullpen all this season (as pitching coach Cooper doesn’t want to ruin him the way the Yankees ruined Joba by yo-yo’ing him back and forth between starting and relieving), but Tony Pena could serve as an ok 5th starter who wouldn’t hurt the team that much (as you only really need three solid starters in the post season due to all the days off).

        Another possibility would be for the Yankees to throw Freddie Garcia in to fill the hole that would be created should the White Sox trade one of their veteran starters to the Yankees, or just putting former phenom Phil Humber into the rotation.

      • Ari Collins - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:23 PM

        Kenny is only going to trade a good starter halfway through the year if they fall horribly out of contention, and likely not even then. There are approximately zero reasons for a contender to trade a good starter halfway through the year, and “you can plug in Freddy Garcia or Phil Humber” is one of the zero reasons.

        If you’re going to just say, “Well, Kenny works in mysterious ways,” then you might as well speculate that he could trade Danks, Beckham, Dunn, and 10 million billion gabajarillion silmarillion dollars for Joba.

      • Ari Collins - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:32 PM

        Just wanted to add that you sound like a well-reasoned fella, and I don’t mean to sound too harsh. But you’re way off on the White Sox trading a starter this year, unless they’re patching up a serious hole at the major league level, and quality-major-leaguer-for-quality-major-leaguer trades rarely happen.

  5. yambio - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    I don’t think that the payroll listed there includes money being sent from other teams. For example, the Astros are sending the Phillies $11 million to pay Roy Oswalt which doesn’t seem to be including the total. I think Cot’s baseball contracts has better information.

  6. spergler - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    Just thought it was time to let the world know that the median was $86.8 million.

  7. Chris Fiorentino - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    Why anyone would ever go to another website for salary information when Cot’s website is out there is absolute lunacy. USA Today does a halfway decent job, but as yambio said above, they don’t take into account the money that was included in a trade. So for instance, the Phillies applied $7 million of the $11 million from the Astros in the Oswalt deal to this year’s salary. Meaning, their salary total for this year is $165 million, not $172 as stated here and on USA Today’s website.

    Again, sites like USA Today and Baseball Reference are great sites for other things, but when they try to mess with something that is the entire reason for the existence of Cot’s website, it’s a waste of time.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:41 PM

      For instance, I don’t know how many times I have read or heard incorrect information about Joe Blanton’s contract for the next 2 years. Everything from $8 million per year for the next two…to $19 million over the next two years. In reality, it is $10.5 million this year and $10.5 million next year…or $21 million over the next two years. He signed a 3 year $24 million contract, but it was only for $3 million last year. That was the biggest reason he was untradable. I think for $8 million, somebody may have jumped. But for $21 million, he was untradable.

    • Ari Collins - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:47 PM

      B-R’s payroll figures for future years were particularly bad this offseason.

      But where is Cot’s 2011 totals? Or are you just adding them up yourself?

      • Chris Fiorentino - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:57 PM

        Go to the EXCEL spreadsheet link they have at the top of each team page. Great stuff.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:57 PM

        Something like this…”2011-16 payroll obligations”

      • Ari Collins - Apr 4, 2011 at 4:09 PM

        Thanks! I had forgotten that existed. Yanks a few million higher, Phillies a few million lower, Sox a couple million higher (just below the Phillies).

      • Chris Fiorentino - Apr 4, 2011 at 4:18 PM

        And the Mutts over 20 million higher…yeah, you can say that the lame attempt at ripping the big market teams in the other post by Aaron was nothing more than an EPIC FAIL. Especially considering the AL pays an extra major-league hitter in the DH, meaning that a $10 million difference isn’t anything when the average DH makes $9.2 million. A lame job by him.

      • Ari Collins - Apr 4, 2011 at 4:30 PM

        Dude, Fiorentino, I agree with you, but try to show some class. You don’t need to criticize the author IN FIVE SEPARATE COMMENTS. You (and I!) think the numbers are pretty bullshit. We get the gist.

  8. wilcymoore - Apr 5, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    Once Adrian Gonzalez signs his expected mega contract the Boston Red Sox 2011 team payroll will be well above that of the Phillies and much closer to that of the Yankees. Just a matter of time.

  9. purdueman - Apr 5, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    I am a bit surprised over all of the obsessing, nit picking and correcting going on here on the topic of MLB team payrolls. At the end of the day does it really matter if the Yankees have a $202M payroll or a $225M payroll?

    I think it’s more significant on the bottom end of the scale, not the top end of the scale. One thing that I agreed with King George on was for the need for a team salary cap floor so that owners of the small market teams that revenue sharing is supposed to help can’t simply pocket the money as personal profit and not put it back into players and/or player development.

    The biggest offenders this season are the Royals, Padres and Marlins (again). It’s not good for baseball and it sucks for baseball fans who live in those markets too.

    Regardless of the actual numbers, I think it’s a given that we’re not going to see the “Big 6” free spenders (Boston, Yankees, Phillies, Cubs and 2 teams from among teams that will likely now rotate among the Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, Giants and Mets depending upon the year, assuming that the Dodgers and Mets ownership issues are eventually resolved), are unlikely to change the way they do business anytime soon.

    At the high end of the market to me the interesting thing is how much “dead money” these teams carry year in and year out. I would favor a $1 for $1 luxury tax on “dead money” for all teams.

    The tricky part is what defines “dead money”, but here’s a start:
    * Money being paid out by a club for players who are no longer on the team;
    * Players signed to free agent contracts exceeding $8M/year or more who have lost their jobs as either being a regular or in the starting rotation. The “dead money” portion of their remaining contracts would then be determined by taking their annual compensation less the average pay of players in the same role as they have been relegated to (example to follow); and
    * The annual compensation of any player on the 60 day disabled list (which is usually pitchers recovering from major arm/elbow surgeries).

    Using the above formula, here are three examples of “dead money”:
    * Cubs paying Carlos Silva $11M this season even though he’s been released;
    * Giants paying Aaron Rowand $12M this season even though he’s been dropped to being a 5th outfielder. Under my formula the “dead money tax” would be $12M less the average pay of 5th outfielders. For sake of argument let’s say that’s $1M. That would make the Giants luxury dead money tax $11M for this season.
    * Yankees when they paid Carl Pavano $40 to spend most of his four years on the DL.

    How would this help competitive balance? Two ways:

    1) It would discourage the big spender clubs from over paying for free agents both in terms of money as well as guaranteed years; and
    2) It would provide more money to redistribute to the small market clubs who are the ones likely to be raided by the big spending clubs to replace the players who have gone into “dead money” status.
    Therein lies the competitive imbalance because the free spenders just slough off these contracts and go sign another guy to replace him. An example of how that would work would be when the Yankees gave Pavano $40M for 4 years and the guy then lived on the DL and collected his checks.

    Under my proposal, that $40M of “dead money” would have cost the Yankees another $40M tax to be redistributed via revenue sharing. This would make the big spenders think twice before over paying for a free agent which in turn would spread the available talent out better.

    • purdueman - Apr 5, 2011 at 2:37 PM

      Please ignore the last two paragraphs of the above post, as they are redundant. I was in the process of deleting them when windows did it’s thing as I must have hit some hidden combination of keys that triggered the post even though that’s not what I intended.

      Bottom line? Penalize teams for the amount of dead money that they carry and they’ll think twice about over paying or reaching for free agents.

  10. maineyankfan - Apr 5, 2011 at 11:51 PM

    The sox have yet to sign Gonzales when they do they’ll be #2 .

    • purdueman - Apr 6, 2011 at 12:04 AM

      The new Gonzo deal is being kept under wraps until after May 1st, after which it won’t count against this years luxury tax. Just smart baseball management on the part of the Red Sox.

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