The Rays Tank: Forbes Financial Report Released, Rays With Second Lowest Franchise Value

March 21, 2012; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price (14) laughs with teammates in the dugout during a spring training game against the New York Yankees at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Every year Forbes releases a list of MLB team valuations, and every year, I'm not sure how much credence to give their findings. The have no more access to team's financial reports than the rest of us -- to my knowledge, at least -- but then again, they also know a ton more about finances than I do. Their team valuations are typically quite accurate when a team goes up for auction, so who knows, maybe they're also right about team revenues and incomes.

If we choose to accept the Forbes report as mostly correct, then there's some good and bad news for the Rays. They had the third-lowest revenue in baseball (behind the Marlins and Athletics, and tied with the Royals), but they still managed to pull a profit by keeping their expenses low. This would seem to suggest that the Rays can support and maintain a payroll around the size they're putting up this year (in the $60-70m range), although it gives them very slim margins, if any.

Another interesting bit from the report is that the Rays are rated as having the second lowest franchise value in baseball, ahead of only the Oakland A's. Forbes somehow has the Rays losing value from last season, which I don't exactly understand but possibly has something to do with the attendance trend and lack of any movement on the new stadium front.

Obviously, it doesn't necessarily matter to us fans how much the Rays' franchise is worth. Stu didn't pay much for the D-Rays when he first purchased the team, so he's already seen a huge increase in his investment since he first took over the club. But what does matter is that it's in Tampa Bay's best interest for the Rays to be a sustainable, mid-market team -- to be able to consistently support a payroll in the $80-90 million range, and to not have to worry about their long-term prospects as a franchise.

When looking at this report, I can't help but think about what could be in another few years. If the Rays actually were given the go-ahead for a new stadium in Tampa and were able to renegotiate their television deal when it expires...can you imagine how much those two changes would impact the club? Achieving mid-market status isn't that much of a pipe dream.

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