A Look at Payroll Efficiency and the Rays' Future

From key players entering the final year of their contract to the signing of a $7 million closer, there has been a lot of talk about the Rays pushing all their chips in for the 2010 season.  From a strict payroll standpoint, that statement probably holds true.  It may be several years before the Rays payroll crosses $70 million again. If pushing all their chips in simply refers to putting together an extremely talented team, this franchise has plenty of ammunition in reserve. 

If we had to pinpoint the place where the 2009 Rays faltered, it would have to be the production of the higher paid players. Consider this: on opening day 2009 the Rays had 9 players making north of $2 million for the season. As evidenced below, these players made a combined $45.9 million and produced 9.9 WAR.  This produces a cost of $4.64 million per win. The going rate on the 2010 free agent market has been about $3.5/win.

Name

WAR

Salary

$/win

Carl Crawford

5.5

8.25

1.50

Carlos Pena

2.6

8

3.08

Pat Burrell

-0.6

7

-11.67

Scott Kazmir

1.2

6

5.00

Troy Percival

-0.3

4.45

-14.83

Chad Bradford

0.1

3.67

36.70

Akinori Iwamura

1.3

3.25

2.50

Dan Wheeler

0.2

3.2

16.00

Dioner Navarro

-0.1

2.1

-21.00

Total

9.9

45.92

4.64

The opening day payroll in 2009 was $63.3 million and the total WAR produced for the team was 51.3. These 9 premium priced players combined for 19.3% of the team's WAR and 72.5% of the payroll.  Yes, there are players on this list likely to regress, as well as some of the outperforming lower priced players.  However, that's a lot of payroll that has been/can be shed and replaced more efficiently with less money.

For comparison, your 2008 American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays had a payroll of $43.7 million with a total WAR of 49.1. The 08 Rays had 8 players making in excess of $2 million. Pena, CC, Wheeler, Kaz, Percy, Aki, Rocco Baldelli, and Cliff Floyd. These players combined for 11.3 WAR on a salary of $26.5 million for a very tidy $2.34 million/win..  That is to say they produced 23% of the team's WAR on 60.6% of the bankroll.

If we take a look at how the Big 3 in the AL East did with the payroll efficiency of the 9 most expensive players, the results may be surprising:

 

Salary

WAR

$/Win

% Salary

% WAR

Yanks

161.1

37.4

4.31

80.0%

65.7%

Sox

88.7

23.1

3.84

72.9%

45.3%

Rays

45.9

9.9

4.64

72.5%

19.3%

The Sox top 9 players accounted for about the same % of total salary payroll as the Rays. The fact that the Rays % of WAR is so far below Is partly a testament to the cost controlled players within the organization. However, the Rays need their most expensive players to perform much closer to the going market rate.

While the existing crop of cheap Rays will continue to receive salary increases, there are plenty of soldiers being groomed for cheap WAR production on the farm. The Rays' minor league system measures up with just about anybody's. That's a tall order for a system that has recently graduated David Price, Evan Longoria, Jeff Niemann, and Matt Joyce

The pitching depth borders on silly. While the hitters in the pipeline have been light in recent years, the top positional prospects in the system play the premium positions.  Crawford has a clone named Desmond Jennings waiting in the wings except the replacement has an approach at the plate and is willing to play centerfield. They also feature two top shortstop prospects in Reid Brignac and Tim Beckham.

This past draft should do quite a bit in terms of replenishing the hitter pipeline.Investments in the foreign academies seem to be paying dividends with Alex Colome, Hector Guevera and Wilking Rodriguez leading the charge. Lastly, the Rays have 5 picks in the top 70 in the upcoming amateur draft.  

While the spending may come back down near 2008 levels, we should rest assured that the talent level should not suffer as a result and is part of a natural cycle as players approach the end of their contracts. Do not make the mistake of judging this team's  chance of success based on their payroll,  there is a bright efficient future ahead.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join DRaysBay

You must be a member of DRaysBay to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at DRaysBay. You should read them.

Join DRaysBay

You must be a member of DRaysBay to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at DRaysBay. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker