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By the Numbers: 2007 Player Payroll for the 30 MLB Clubs PDF Print E-mail
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Articles & Opinion
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 25 January 2008 01:59

A Detailed Look At How Teams Spent Over the Course of 2007

2007 will be remembered for more than a few things, not the least of which is the dirge which has become the year in and year out steroid story. But, beyond that tiresome issue, baseball seems to have become this sport where the unexpected can become the expected.

2007 represented the year where teams that would seem impossibly out of place in the postseason, got in, and in the case of the Rockies, created one of the hottest streaks in recent memory till that Cinderella story hit the skids when they faced the Red Sox in the World Series.

The reason I say “impossible” has to do with how the team looked on paper. After all, short of what must have been viewed as the delusional Rockies fan, who would have thunk that the Rockies would have made the World Series?

And, when the final figures for year end payroll for each of the 30 teams was made available yesterday, it’s enough for Bud Selig to puff his chest out and say, “Parity has fully arrived.”

Year End Payroll Figures Shows Increase of Over $217 Million From Opening Day

You know the saying… “It takes money to make money.” Apparently, MLB teams had this mounted above the door last year. If you’re a Rays, Marlins, or Nationals fan, you may think otherwise, but consider this…

(Select Read More to see payroll data for all 30 teams for 2007, along with extensive analysis)

Below are the total team payrolls for each of the 30 teams at the end of 2007:

Yankees $218,311,394
Red Sox $155,402,595
Dodgers $125,581,316
Mets $120,927,727
Cubs $115,943,318
Mariners $114,367,309
Angels $111,038,577
Phillies $101,823,122
Giants $101,539,796
White Sox $100,189,832
Cardinals $99,329,875
Tigers $98,519,780
Astros $97,213,020
Orioles $95,269,977
Blue Jays $95,069,351
Braves $92,634,468
Rangers $78,923,435
Athletics $78,482,125
Reds $73,072,635
Brewers $72,751,641
Twins $71,938,505
Indians $71,887,236
D-Backs $70,448,367
Padres $67,490,967
Royals $62,264,855
Rockies $61,348,681
Pirates $51,360,907
Nationals $43,254,278
Marlins $33,072,472
Rays $31,817,020

Final 2007 payrolls for the 30 major league teams, according to information received by clubs from the commissioner's office. 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. In some cases, parts of salaries that are deferred are discounted to reflect present-day values.

To keep you from having to break out the calculator, that is a total of $2,711,274,581 for player payroll in all of MLB at the end of the year. This to go along with $6.075 billion in total revenues last season (you may now pick your jaw up off the floor).

At the league level (and the AL East, for that matter), the Yankees (the largest spender on player payroll) spent nearly 7 times as much as the Rays (smallest spender on player payroll) in 2007. In the case of the Yankees, they get the prize for posting a record for player payroll, which they could have avoided without signing Roger Clemens to a prorated contract of $17.4 million for 18 appearances. It was the ninth consecutive year that the Yankees posted the largest payroll. Consider this... The last team to beat out the Yankees as the total team payroll winner was (ready?) the Baltimore Orioles in 1998 when they posted a $71,860,921 at the end of the year to the Yankees second place showing of $65,663,698, followed by the Dodgers ($62,806,667), Braves ($61,708,000), Rangers ($60,519,595), and Indians ($59,543,165) and Red Sox ($59,497,000).

In looking at end of year (EOY) salary, one needs to consider how matters shifted for a team over a given year. If the team is performing poorly at some relative point in the season, clubs will look to shed payroll. If a team is performing well, they may increase payroll in a push to make the playoffs.

Oh, and one more thing before I go further, I didn't post a typo...The Mariners (you know, that team in that city way up there on the map) continues to make money hand over fist, and is spending to go with. 

Below are the Opening Day figures for 2007:

Yankees $195,229,045
Red Sox $143,526,214
Mets $117,915,819
White Sox
Angels $109,251,333
Dodgers $108,704,524
Mariners $106,516,833
Cubs $99,937,000
Tigers $95,180,369
Orioles $95,107,80
Giants $90,469,056
Cardinals $90,286,823
Braves $89,492,685
Phillies $89,368,214
Astros $87,759,500
Athletics $79,938,369
Blue Jays $79,925,600
Brewers $71,986,500
Twins $71,439,500
Reds $69,154,980
Rangers $68,818,675
Royals $67,366,500
Indians $61,673,267
Padres $58,235,567
Rockies $54,424,000
D-Backs $52,067,546
Rays $24,124,200

Glancing back at the end of year figures shows the following:

  • Largest Increase in Player Payroll from Opening Day – Yankees ($23,082,349), Diamondbacks ($18,380,821), Dodgers ($16,876,792), Cubs ($16,006,318), Blue Jays ($15,143,751)
  • Those Decreasing Player Payroll from Opening Day – White Sox (-$9,490,335), Royals (-$5,101,645), Athletics (-$1,456,244).

Some may have noticed that in the label for decreases, I didn’t say “largest”. That’s because those three teams encompass all who lowered player payroll over the course of the season, otherwise all 27 teams increased player payroll by the end of the year. In total, teams increased salary by a whopping $217,235,488 over the course of 2007. Remember me talking about the Rays, Marlins and Nationals? Even the bottom feeders increased payroll over the course of the year. The low man on the totem pole, the Tampa Bay Rays at #30, raised player payroll the most over those three teams. The Rays increased player payroll from Opening Day $7,692,820 compared to the Marlins ($2,565,472), and Nationals ($5,906,778).

If you climb one more step up from the Nationals, you’ll find the Pirates, who increased player payroll by an eye-popping (at least by Pirates standards) $12,756,407. Here’s the bad news: it wasn’t a good thing (if you’re a Pirates fan). Nearly all of it came by way of Matt Morris (good thing if you’re a Giants fan). His total salary was $9.5 million for ’07, and he arrived with the Pirates at the trade deadline (July 31st), so not all of that figure was absorbed by the Pirates. Still, it was pure Dave Littlefield, which means you can all but bet Frank Coonley and Neal Huntington will be looking to move him in ’08 when his $9.5 million salary kicks in.

Spending Wisely. Spending Poorly. Not Spending At All

This is the point where we all bow down to Dan O’Dowd, and Mark Shapiro, while showing our backside to the former two-headed monster of Mike Flanagan and Jim Duquette, as well as Brian Sabean. Remember, it’s not how much you spend; it’s how wisely you spend it.

One way to look at how efficiently General Managers spend, we can break down payroll and wins with Marginal Payroll/Marginal Wins.

Read more on Marginal Payroll/Marginal Wins with this article from the late, great Doug Pappas

MP/MW reflects how much a team has spent above a theoretical minimum, represented by the following formula:

(club payroll - (28 x major league minimum) / ((winning percentage - .300) x 162)

When looking at the figures, the lower they are, the more efficiently that team has spent.

Understand, that just because a team is efficient doesn’t mean they have been effective. If you have a low payroll figure, and don’t win, well… it may be great for the bean counters, but it’s useless in the form of league based sports where winning is the goal.

The following is a breakdown by key categories using MP/MW

(See Complete Data for all 30 Clubs by MP/MW by way of Google Docs) 

Most Efficient, but Ineffective

The Marlins are the most efficient team in 2007, but they were also woefully ineffective. With a $22,432,472 Marginal Payroll, which translates to 22.36 Marginal Wins, or $1,001,450 per Marginal Win, they spent the least, but went 71-91 (.438). Other teams that saved money, but didn’t gain in the win column would be Tampa Bay ($1,217,070 per Marginal Win, but a 66-96 (.407) record), and Washington ($1,336,651 per Marginal Win, but a 73-89 (.451) record).

Rebuilding, perpetually rebuilding, or living on revenue-sharing welfare. Let’s play Match Game with those teams.

Most Efficient, and Most Effective

Here’s where Bud gets to puff out his chest. This year saw three teams in the lower third by total player payroll make the playoffs, with the team posting the 26th lowest payroll (Colorado, 90-73 (.552)) going to the World Series. A team with a payroll that low going to the World Series is truly a remarkable bit of history. Cleveland (22nd) and Arizona (23rd) make the other teams that were incredibly efficient and incredibly effective by winning games with very little in the pocketbooks.

In terms of MP/MW, the Rockies were the third most effective team in terms of how they spent (40.82 Marginal Wins, or $1,233,788 cost per Marginal Win), just behind Tampa Bay. So, the team that wound up the second best at the end of the year, spent efficiently about the same as the worst team in the league. Dan O’Dowd, take a bow. Coming in second behind the Rockies, is Mark Shapiro and the Cleveland Indians (47.4 Marginal Wins, or $1,292,136 per Marginal Win. 96-66 (.593)). Arizona and Josh Byrnes is third in the rankings of most efficient and most effective (41.4 Marginal Wins, or $1,444,647 per Marginal Win. 90-72 (.593)).

By the way… If the Padres had won the one game playoff at the end of the season (or, if you’re a Padres fan, and the call was right), San Diego and Kevin Towers would have been just ahead of Arizona (40.1 Marginal Wins, or $1,417,730 per Marginal Win. 89-74 (.546)).

Inefficient, but Effective

These are the teams that blasted cash, but can shrug and say, “So what? We made the playoffs.”

At the top of the list is the Boston Red Sox, who had the second highest player payroll in all of MLB ($155,402,595) and ranked 7th in terms of cost per Marginal Win ($3,054,063). But the winner, hands down, for spending like mad, but at least being able to say they made the playoffs is the New York Yankees with a Marginal Payroll of $207,671,394, 45.36 Marginal Wins, and $4,574,260 per Marginal Win. In other words, the Yankees spent nearly 4 times as much per win as the Rockies did… and still didn’t make it to the World Series. You have to jump to #9 in the list of those that spent the most per win with the Cubs (36.45 Marginal Wins, or $2,892,948 per Marginal Win. 85-77 (.525)), before you get into a team that spent mucho, but at least could say they made the playoffs in spite of it. That tells you that there was more than a few…

Inefficient and Ineffective

Welcome to the place you don’t want to be. That place where you spend like a drunken sailor, only to wind up at the end of the season with an embarrassing hangover. At the top of the list is the Baltimore Orioles and Mike Flanagan and Jim Duquette. At $4,148,528 per Marginal Win (69-93 (.426)), they are second behind the Yankees in spending the most per win. The problem is, they came in fourth in the AL East. At least the Rays can say they didn’t throw money down the drain, even if they were in the cellar.

Just behind the Orioles sits Brian Sabean and San Francisco with $4,058,027 per Marginal Win (71-91 (.438)). Their problem was finishing dead last in the NL West. Other suckers include Kenny Williams and the While Sox ($3,826,916 per Marginal Win 72-90 (.444) and a fourth place finish in the AL Central (Kansas City was at least the most efficient, even if they came in last in the Division). The other team that I suppose should be mentioned is the Dodgers, who rank 6th in spending the most per Marginal Win ($3,441,357), spending the most in the NL West on player payroll while posting a fourth place finish in the NL West. The only slack they get is that the NL West was hot in 2007, and going 82-80 (.506) didn’t mean much.

Breaking Down Payroll by Most and Least By Division (using cost per Marginal Win)

AL East

  • Highest – Yankees (EOY Payroll $218,311,394, MP $207,671,394, MW 45.36, cost per MW $4,574,260)
  • Lowest – Rays (EOY Payroll $31,817,020, MP $21,177,020, MW 17.33, cost per MW $1,217,070)

AL Central

  • Highest – White Sox (EOY Payroll $100,189,832, MP $89,549,832, MW 23.33, cost per MW $3,826,916)
  • Lowest – Indians (EOY Payroll $71,887,236, MP $61,247,236, MW 47.47, cost per MW $1,292,136)

AL West

  • Highest – Mariners (EOY Payroll $114,367,309, MP $103,727,309, MW 39.37, cost per MW $2,632,673)
  • Lowest – Angels (EOY Payroll $111,038,577, MP $67,842,125, MW 45.36, cost per MW $2,211,422)

NL East

  • Highest – Mets (EOY Payroll $120,927,727, MP $110,287,727, MW 39.37, cost per MW $2,799,181)
  • Lowest – Marlins (EOY Payroll $33,072,472, MP $61,247,236, MW 22.36, cost per MW $1,001,450)

NL Central

  • Highest – Astros (EOY Payroll $97,213,020, MP $86,573,020, MW 24.46, cost per MW $3,539,082)
  • Lowest – Brewers (EOY Payroll $72,751,641, MP $62,111,641, MW 34.34, cost per MW $1,808,515)

NL West

  • Highest – Giants (EOY Payroll $101,539,796, MP $90,899,796, MW 22.40, cost per MW $4,058,027)
  • Lowest – Rockies (EOY Payroll $61,348,681, MP $50,708,681, MW 41.10, cost per MW $1,233,788)

Playoff Teams (Ranked by Cost per Marginal Win - Most Efficent):

EOY Payroll
Marginal Payroll
Marginal Wins
Cost Per MW
Red Sox

 Salary Data Source: The Associated Press, Ronald Blum

Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the founder and president of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is also an author for Baseball Prospectus, Basketball Prospectus and is an available writer for other media outlets.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.



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