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April 8, 2010

One-Hoppers

Opening Day Payrolls

by Jay Jaffe

No sooner did opening day pass than USA Today updated its handy Salaries Database to include 2010 figures. Unlike the more comprehensive year-end figures (best found at the Biz of Baseball's MLB Salary Database), opening day payroll figures don't include incentive bonuses and deferred payments, but they're certainly interesting as a starting point in evaluating a team's current financial state, particularly when compared to opening day 2009 figures. All dollar amounts are in millions.

Team           2009      2010     Change   Pct Chg
Red Sox      $121.75   $162.45    $40.70    33.4
Twins         $65.30    $97.56    $32.26    49.4
Phillies     $113.00   $141.93    $28.92    25.6
Marlins       $36.83    $57.03    $20.20    54.8
Giants        $82.62    $98.64    $16.02    19.4
Orioles       $67.10    $81.61    $14.51    21.6
Cubs         $134.81   $146.61    $11.80     8.8
White Sox     $96.07   $105.53     $9.46     9.8
Rockies       $75.20    $84.23     $9.03    12.0
Rays          $63.31    $71.92     $8.61    13.6
Tigers       $115.09   $122.86     $7.78     6.8
Cardinals     $88.53    $93.54     $5.01     5.7
Yankees      $201.45   $206.33     $4.88     2.4
Nationals     $60.33    $61.40     $1.07     1.8
Brewers       $80.18    $81.11     $0.93     1.2
Royals        $70.52    $71.41     $0.89     1.3
Reds          $73.56    $71.76    -$1.80    -2.4
Dodgers      $100.41    $95.36    -$5.06    -5.0
Padres        $43.73    $37.80    -$5.93   -13.6
Angels       $113.71   $104.96    -$8.75    -7.7
Astros       $103.00    $92.36   -$10.64   -10.3
Athletics     $62.31    $51.65   -$10.66   -17.1
Braves        $96.73    $84.42   -$12.30   -12.7
Mariners      $98.90    $86.51   -$12.39   -12.5
Diamondbacks  $73.52    $60.72   -$12.80   -17.4
Rangers       $68.18    $55.25   -$12.93   -19.0
Pirates       $48.69    $34.94   -$13.75   -28.2
Mets         $149.37   $134.42   -$14.95   -10.0
Blue Jays     $80.54    $62.23   -$18.30   -22.7
Indians       $81.58    $61.20   -$20.38   -25.0

The numbers suggest many a storyline. Atop the list we see the Red Sox loading up to keep pace with the Yankees and Rays, more or less halving the distance between their payroll and that of the Bronx Bombers. Even without the Joe Mauer extension, the Twins' payroll has risen nearly 50 percent as they move into brand new Target Field. The Phillies are paying for their recent success, not to mention an extra ace. The Marlins upped their payroll an MLB-high 54.8 percent in the wake of a deal with the Players Association. The Giants gave out well-earned raises to Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, but couldn't resist buying some junk, too. At the other end of the list, we see the Indians, Blue Jays and Pirates in their rebuilding phases, the Mets skimping on a rotation featuring Johan Santana and a bunch of hobos, the Rangers gearing up for sale, the Diamondbacks and Mariners knocking some deadwood off their payrolls, the Dodgers doing some belt-tightening amid the McCourts' divorce drama and so on. Just as surely as we keep our eyes on the ol' horsehide, we'll be following some of these stories all season long (in fact, I've still got both the AL and NL West divisions to do for my Competitive Ecology series, which has been delayed by other projects but should resume soon).

On the whole, the average opening day payroll rose $1.71 million from $88.88 million to $90.59 million, about a two percent increase. That's double the MLBPA's report of the rise of the average player salary, but as Biz of Baseball notes, the MLBPA figures do not include bonuses and benefits.

Jay Jaffe is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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