Major League Baseball’s season is only a week old, but so far, money doesn’t necessarily translate into wins.
The New York Mets, who have a record opening day payroll of $353.5 million, according to USA TODAY’s annual salary report, have a losing record (3-4) and have already 2 and a half games behind in the NL East standings.
The Tampa Bay Rays, who have the third-lowest payroll in baseball at $73.2 million, are baseball’s only undefeated team (6-0).
The teams with the four highest payrolls this season — the Mets, Yankees, San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies — are off to a combined 11-14 start.
Teams with the four smallest payrolls this season — Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa, Baltimore Orioles — started 15-9.
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If the trends continue for another six months, MLB may disband its economic reform committee — but the reality is the big spenders will play in October. Small-market teams, well, at least those outside of Tampa and Cleveland will stay home.
“I think about it in terms of competitiveness, don’t I?” Commissioner Rob Manfred told USA TODAY Sports ahead of Opening Day. “I mean, our product is a simple product. We sell competition, that’s what we sell. And I think for owners, it’s not so much the “I can only spend $70 [million] and someone who spends $320 [million]. But it’s the perception that’s created by this disparity that, “My team kind of doesn’t have a chance at the start of the year.” “
The disparity is almost comical, with 12 players on the Mets’ opening roster earning at least $10 million a year, four of them over $20 million a year, not including the player’s $24 million salary. infielder released Robinson Cano.
Oakland, with an Opening Day payroll of $56.9 million, doesn’t have a soul earning more than veteran pitcher Trevor May’s $7 million salary. Pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander will together earn $86.6 million, or $29.8 million more than the entire track team.
Here are some of the intriguing silver nuggets revealed in USA TODAY Sports’ annual survey.
Seeker | First baseman | Second baseman | Third baseman | Shortstop | Outfielder | DH | Starting pitcher | Relief Pitcher
Highest paid Angels player
Uh, not who you’re thinking of.
It’s third baseman Anthony Rendon, who has missed 219 games over the past two seasons, is actually the Angels’ highest-paid player this season at $38.571 million.
Yes, even more than Mike Trout ($37.116 million).
And yes, Shohei Ohtani ($30 million) too.
Most of the money paid for not playing
Trevor Bauer and Robinson Cano, who were each released by the Dodgers and Mets, respectively, and are no longer in the majors, will earn a total of $42.5 million this year.
The gift that keeps on giving
The Colorado Rockies are paying the St. Louis Cardinals $16.566 million this year for the right to play All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado for the Cardinals.
The Rockies, as part of their initial 2021 trade with the Cardinals, agreed to pay Arenado’s future contract $51 million if he did not exercise any of his contract opt-out options.
Well, Arenado chose to stay put last winter instead of withdrawing, and the Rockies are hanging on. They pay practically half of Arenado’s salary in 2023 this year.
The Rockies will also pay $5 million each of the next two years to watch Arenado work their way to Cooperstown.
What a difference a decade makes
10 years ago, the Houston Astros had the lowest payroll in baseball, $24.3 million, and they lost 111 games, their third straight season losing at least 100 games.
These days, they have a payroll of $192 million, fresh off of two World Series championships and four American League pennants over the past six years.
Former World Series heroes get the bare minimum – and more
Jason Heyward, 2016 World Series champion: The Dodgers only pay the minimum $720,000 while the Cubs pay him another $21.28 million this year.
Mike Moustakas, 2015 World Series champion: The Colorado Rockies pay the minimum of $720,000 while the Cincinnati Reds pay him $17.28 million this year.
Eric Hosmer, 2015 World Series champion: The Cubs pay the minimum of $720,000 while the San Diego Padres pay him $12.28 million this year, $12.26 million in 2024 and $12.24 million dollars in 2025.
Most economical rotation
The Cincinnati Reds are paying a grand total of $5,562,500 for their entire starting rotation, with only Luis Cessa ($2.65 million) earning over $730,000.
The Mets, on the other hand, are paying $43.3 million each for co-aces Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.
The most money in the books
The Padres have $1.6 billion in salary commitments with Manny Machado (11 years old, $350 million), Fernando Tatis (13 years old, $340 million) and Xander Bogaerts (11 years old, $280 million) up until ‘in 2033.
Least money in the books
The Baltimore Orioles, Reds and Athletics don’t have a penny on the books after the 2024 season.
Miguel Cabrera: His eight-year, $248 million contract expires after this season, but he’s owed $8 million next year once the Detroit Tigers decline his $30 million club option.
Joey Votto: His 10-year, $225m deal expires after the season and he owes $7m next year if the Reds don’t take up his $20m option.
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