Comparing Each Team’s Current Payroll To Previous Spending

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The MLB and MLBPA will be returning to the bargaining table tomorrow, in order to hopefully begin the process of thawing the MLB landscape, which has remained quite frosty for over a month now. While this is surely welcome news for the baseball world, it doesn’t seem like the end of the lockout is imminent. At this point, with the scheduled start of spring training about a month away, there’s no avoiding a scenario with a quick turnaround between the conclusion of the lockout and the resumption of baseball activities. It’s been deduced by many that this will surely lead to a period of frenzied hot stove activity, as there are still a great number of free agents to be signed, as well as trades to be made, as teams look to set their rosters before the season begins in earnest.

Once that happens, some teams will surely be more active than others, depending on their respective circumstances. Front office members are typically cagy in public about what sort of payroll parameters they are working within, for sensible reasons. When negotiating with a player’s agent, for instance, it’s harder to make it seem as though you have little wiggle room if you’ve publicly boasted about having millions of dollars at your disposal. That makes it impossible for us to know exactly how much money is remaining in each team’s piggy bank, but we can at least make inferences by looking at precedents.

It’s not a guarantee that a team will stick to their previous habits, of course, as we’ve seen with the spending spree from the Mets this year. Some teams may intentionally be taking a step back to rebuild and won’t be spending to previous levels. There’s also the fact that many teams may be waiting to see how the luxury tax tiers are affected by the next CBA. (MLBTR’s Anthony Franco covered that issue in greater detail here.) However, there are some broadly predictable patterns as to which teams are usually big spenders and which are usually low spenders.

Without further ado, here’s a quick shorthand version of where each team is at, comparing their projected 2022 Opening Day payroll to their previous record outlay for Opening Day. The following numbers are actual dollars, not luxury tax calculations. (2022 projections courtesy of Jason Martinez of Roster Resource. Payrolls from previous years from Cot’s Baseball Contracts.)

  • Angels: $10MM under. (Current projected payroll of $172MM, previous high was $182MM in 2021.)
  • Astros: $18MM under. (Current projected payroll of $170MM, previous high was $188MM in 2021.)
  • Athletics: $7MM under. (Current projected payroll of $85MM, previous high was $92MM in 2019.)
  • Blue Jays: $23MM under. (Current projected payroll of $140MM, previous high was $163MM in 2017.)
  • Braves: $9MM over. (Current projected payroll of $140MM, previous high was $131MM in 2021.)
  • Brewers: $2MM under. (Current projected payroll of $121MM, previous high was $123MM in 2019.)
  • Cardinals: $14MM under. (Current projected payroll of $150MM, previous high was $164MM in 2021.)
  • Cubs: $89MM under. (Current projected payroll of $114MM, previous high was $203MM in 2019.)
  • Diamondbacks: $46MM under. (Current projected payroll of $86MM, previous high was $132MM in 2018.)
  • Dodgers: $45MM under. (Current projected payroll of $227MM, previous high was $272MM in 2015.)
  • Giants: $75MM under. (Current projected payroll of $126MM, previous high was $201MM in 2018.)
  • Guardians: $86MM under.  (Current projected payroll of $49MM, previous high was $135MM in 2018.)
  • Mariners: $71MM under. (Current projected payroll of $87MM, previous high was $158MM in 2018.)
  • Marlins: $46MM under. (Current projected payroll of $69MM, previous high was $115MM in 2017.)
  • Mets: $68MM over. (Current projected payroll of $263MM, previous high was $195MM in 2021.)
  • Nationals: $79MM under. (Current projected payroll of $118MM, previous high was $197MM in 2019.)
  • Orioles: $103MM under. (Current projected payroll of $61MM, previous high was $164MM in 2017.)
  • Padres: $25MM over. (Current projected payroll of $199MM, previous high was $174MM in 2021.)
  • Phillies: $10MM under. (Current projected payroll of $181MM, previous high was $191MM in 2021.)
  • Pirates: $61MM under. (Current projected payroll of $39MM, previous high was $100MM in 2016.)
  • Rangers: $38MM under. (Current projected payroll of $127MM, previous high was $165MM in 2017.)
  • Rays: $7MM over. (Current projected payroll of $84MM, previous high was $77MM in 2014.)
  • Red Sox: $45MM under. (Current projected payroll of $191MM, previous high was $236MM in 2019.)
  • Reds: $12MM under. (Current projected payroll of $115MM, previous high was $127MM in 2019.)
  • Rockies: $41MM under. (Current projected payroll of $104MM, previous high was $145MM in 2019.)
  • Royals: $57MM under. (Current projected payroll of $86MM, previous high was $143MM in 2017.)
  • Tigers: $83MM under. (Current projected payroll of $117MM, previous high was $200MM in 2017.)
  • Twins: $38MM under. (Current projected payroll of $91MM, previous high was $129MM in 2019.)
  • White Sox: $51MM over. (Current projected payroll of $180MM, previous high was $129MM in 2021.)
  • Yankees: $14MM under. (Current projected payroll of $214MM, previous high was $228MM in 2013.)

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