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Home Maury Brown Inside the Numbers: MLB Opening Day Player Payroll for '09

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Inside the Numbers: MLB Opening Day Player Payroll for '09 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 07 April 2009 01:15

A Biz of Baseball ExclusiveHeading into the 2009 season, the total amount spent on Opening Day player payroll in Major League Baseball declined 1.56 percent from last season marking the first decline in team spending since 2004 when the league saw clubs spend 2.69 percent less on player payroll than 2003.

16 of the 30 clubs will see Opening Day player payroll lower than 2008 (select Read More to see details). Total league Opening Day player payroll for this year is $2,655,395,194 compared to $2,697,392,597 last year.

While the recession may be what many will point to, the decline might will be described as an adjustment. League spending on Opening Day had been increasing steadily from 6.27 percent from ’04 to ’05, 6.46 percent from ’05 to ’06, and 7.19 percent from ’06 to ’07. But last year, owners dug deeper into their wallets and increased spending 8.15 percent from the year prior, so the decline in spending from 2008 to 2009 marks a correction. When looking at league spending on Opening Day player payroll from 2007 to 2009 the amount of increase is 6.6 percent, a more reasonable escalation when looking at spending increases in trailing years.

Opening Day Payroll

Click to see in larger view

(see the graph provided, and note the trendline within)

Breaking down the spending...

Sixteen clubs spent less this year compared to last with the San Diego Padres leading the way. With John Moores mired in a divorce, the soon-to-be former owner of the club slashed payroll from $73,677,617 last season to $43,734,200 at the beginning of 2009, a whopping 40.64 percent decline.

The Padres are followed by the Cardinals ($77,605,109, down from $100,624,450, or -22.88 percent), White Sox ($96,068,500, down from $121,152,667, or -20.70 percent), Blue Jays ($80,538,300, down from $98,641,957, or -18.35 percent), and Tigers ($115,085,145, down from $138,685,197, or -17.02 percent)

Select Read More to see the rest of this article, including details for each of the 30 clubs' Opening Day player payrolls

Leading increases in spending are the Marlins who see a 2009 Opening Day player payroll of $36,834,000, up from $21,836,500, or an increase of 68.68 percent. Like the decline in spending by the Padres can be tied to an event (Moores’ divorce), the Marlins increase in player payroll is tied in large part to going to hearing in salary arbitration with 2B Dan Uggla. By winning his hearing, Uggla sees the second highest salary on the Marlins roster ($5.35 million) behind only Hanley Ramirez ($5.5 million). The Marlins had offered $4.4 million in salary arbitration. While the difference of $950,000 is not the true reason for the spike in spending by the Marlins, Uggla’s increase in pay through the salary arbitration process is. Uggla made $417,000 last season. His increase in pay from 2008 to 2009 marks an 1183 percent increase. Oh, and about Hanley Ramirez… he’s a huge part of why the Marlins see the increase in spending, as well. He earned $439,000 compared to his $5.5 million this year. In other words, don’t think that Loria spent on free agent talent this off-season. The increase in salary is a by-product of escalating salaries of two key players. Even with the increase in spending, the Marlins are still last in the league in player payroll, something the Marlins have done systematically in every year since 2006, with 2007 the exception when they ranked 29th out of 30.

Other clubs that see increases over the year prior include the Rays ($63,313,034, up from $43,820,598, or 44.48 percent), A’s ($62,310,000, up from $47,967,126, or 29.9 percent), Royals ($70,519,333, up from $58,245,500, or 21.07 percent), Astros ($102,996,414, up from $88,930,415, or 15.82 percent), and World Series Champion Phillies who see salary increases in part due to hefty contracts with Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels this off-season ($113,004,046, up from $98,269,881, or 14.99 percent).

Also in the mix are the Chicago Cubs. Soon-to-be new owner Thomas Ricketts can’t be too happy knowing that the Tribune Co. has increased player payroll to $134,809,000, third highest in the league, and an increase of 13.67 percent from last year.

But, it isn’t just this season that the Cubs have gone to the wallets and spent heavily, due mostly to a high percentage of backloaded contracts, the club has seen the following increases (2004 to 2005 the exception) over the course of the last few seasons:

  • 2008 to 2009 – 13.67%
  • 2007 to 2008 – 18.67%
  • 2006 to 2007 – 5.84%
  • 2005 to 2006 – 8.49%
  • 2004 to 2005 – (4.47%)
  • 2003 to 2004 – 12.83%

Finally, with all the talk of free spending by the Yankees this off-season for Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett, the Bronx Bombers will actually see a decrease in player payroll from last season due to a number of players coming off the books including Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Mike Mussina, and Carl Pavano. The Yankees will see a decrease from $209,081,579 to $201,449,189 in 2009, or a decrease of 3.65 percent. Fear not, Yankee haters. The club is still spending $52,075,202 more than the second ranked Mets ($149,373,987), or more than the Marlins, Padres, and Pirates have for their total player payroll for 2009.

Below is the Opening Day player payroll for each of the 30 clubs for 2009, the percentage of increase/decrease from 2008, the 2008 Opening Day payroll figure for each club, and the ranking that each of the clubs had in 2008, based on Opening Day player payroll.

Rank Team 2009 ODP % +/- 2008 ODP Rank ('08)
1 New York Yankees $ 201,449,189 -3.65 $209,081,579 1
2 New York Mets $ 149,373,987 8.01 $138,293,378 3
3 Chicago Cubs $ 134,809,000 13.67 $118,595,833 7
4 Boston Red Sox $ 121,745,999 -8.76 $133,440,037 4
5 Detroit Tigers $ 115,085,145 -17.02 $138,685,197 2
6 Los Angeles Angels $ 113,709,000 -4.62 $119,216,333 6
7 Philadelphia Phillies $ 113,004,046 14.99 $98,269,881 13
8 Houston Astros $ 102,996,414 15.82 $88,930,415 14
9 Los Angeles Dodgers $ 100,414,592 -15.29 $118,536,038 8
10 Seattle Mariners $ 98,904,166 -16.18 $117,993,982 9
11 Atlanta Braves $ 96,726,166 -5.56 $102,424,018 10
12 Chicago White Sox $ 96,068,500 -20.70 $121,152,667 5
13 San Francisco Giants $82,616,450 7.43 $76,904,500 17
14 Cleveland Indians $81,579,166 3.30 $78,970,067 16
15 Toronto Blue Jays $80,538,300 -18.35 $98,641,957 12
16 Milwaukee Brewers $80,182,502 -1.01 $81,004,167 15
17 St. Louis Cardinals $77,605,109 -22.88 $100,624,450 11
18 Colorado Rockies $75,201,000 9.53 $68,655,500 20
19 Cincinnati Reds $73,558,500 -0.97 $74,277,695 18
20 Arizona Diamondbacks $73,516,666 11.05 $66,202,713 23
21 Kansas City Royals $70,519,333 21.07 $58,245,500 25
22 Texas Rangers $68,178,798 -0.09 $68,239,551 21
23 Baltimore Orioles $67,101,666 -0.14 $67,196,248 22
24 Minnesota Twins $65,299,266 5.01 $62,182,767 24
25 Tampa Bay Rays $63,313,034 44.48 $43,820,598 29
26 Oakland Athletics $62,310,000 29.90 $47,967,126 28
27 Washington Nationals $60,328,000 9.77 $54,961,000 26
28 Pittsburgh Pirates $48,693,000 -1.36 $49,365,283 27
29 San Diego Padres $43,734,200 -40.64 $73,677,617 19
30 Florida Marlins $36,834,000 68.68 $21,836,500 30
 
Total
$2,655,395,194
-1.56 $2,697,392,597  

Source: USA Today. Figures for 2009, compiled by USA TODAY, are based on documents obtained from the MLB Players Association, club officials and filed with Major League Baseball's central office. Deferred payments and incentive clauses are not included. Team payrolls do not include money paid or received in trades or for players who have been released.


Maury BrownMaury 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 contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. 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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