Yesterday we saw that if the 2013 season started today, the payroll would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $61.4 million. That would be the fourth highest payroll in the eight seasons since Stuart Sternberg took over the Rays. And that’s without signing a single free agent.

Here is a look at the opening day payroll for the Rays in every year of their existence. For fun, we included the average payroll in Major League Baseball.

Payroll values are in millions…

When the Rays reached $72.8 million in 2010, it was clear that the Rays were uncomfortable at the level and that it would not happen very often under current conditions. And with attendance still at similar levels that means we should once again expect a payroll next season in the low $60s.

And that means it is less likely that Luke Scott will have his $6.0 million option picked up. And Ryan Roberts will likely not be offered arbitration (approx. $4.0 million).

The only other spot where the Rays can save significant money is by trading James Shields, who is set to make $10.3 million in 2013. But no matter how you shake that tree, the Rays are a better team with Shields than without.



  1. Hans says:

    Wouldn’t this be better with the media payroll instead? The Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies skew the average higher. Rays have a low payroll compared to the other monstrosities in their division but aren’t that far below median.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      I think you can make an argument for both. What the Yankees, Phillies, and Red Sox pay for players ultimately impacts how much the Rays (and other teams) have to pay, and what they can afford, so it is hard to ignore. But some quick back-of-the-napkin calculations indicates that the median is typically about $10-12 million less than the average.

  2. Ken says:

    All the data you have provided recently Cork exposes the most glaring weakness in the Rays system. Despite a high number of upper echelon draft picks over the past few years it appears we cannot develop “HITTERS”. We don’t have one major league ready player down on the farm. In fact, other than Longoria we haven’t been able to promote anyone capable of hitting .300 in the last 5 years. Friedman and company have totally failed here, which makes me very suspicious of all the hype surrounding the front office. We are two to three years away from being perennial cellar dwellers again.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      This is a big problem, but it is also (for better or worse) by design. The Rays have a limited budget in which to work with. And they believe that the money is best spent scouting/developing pitching. And as we have seen, they do pitching very well. But the cost is that they do not do hitting well at all.

      Only 2 of the Rays top 8 prospects are hitters. And neither of those two are expected to be great hitters. Hak-Ju Lee is expected to be a good glove with speed and maybe some on-base capabilities. And Mikie Mahtook should be a good hitter, but he has a limited upside. He is going to be more like a taller, better Sam Fuld.

      After that there is Tim Beckham (never going to be a good big league hitter), Todd Glaesmann (hit well in a pitcher’s league, but is still 2-3 years away), and a lot of maybes-but-probably-never-will-bes.

      • Ken says:

        The problem I see with their “pitching first” philosophy is that once promoted to the majors, all these excellent arms have difficulty pitching without run support. I think it wears them down mentally. If roughly 60% of pitches thrown are crucial it can make or break a young pitcher.

    • Evan says:

      There could still be a positive outcome. I think that a front office that knows their own strengths and weakness can turn that into an advantage. I was going to write up an MLB example of comparative advantage but why not just refer anyone who cares to the wiki.

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