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Payroll Patrol

There seems to be a load of confusion buzzing around the payroll recently, basically it's the common fan feeling that the Devil Rays organization lied to them when they said payroll would increase 15% gradually. Well, I fired up the Excel, my handy dandy calculator, and the great Cot's Baseball Contracts website, and went to work on finding out the real deal on not only the 2007 cash flow to the players, but also the status through 2010, and if the payroll would indeed eventually increase by 15% or so percent.

Okay first off I figured up the 40 man salary for 2007, it figured to be about 26 million, give or take a few thousand. Last year's opening day salary was 35 million or so, now while some would blame the trades as `money dumping' I don't, most of the players were free agents (Julio Lugo, Tobias Hall, Aubrey Huff, ect.) and may have left without any compensation, instead a portion of our 40 man is made up of the received profits from those transactions.

Okay so let's assume the organization would be talking about 15% increases after the 2007 season, after considerably disinfecting the roster of that stank smell known as the `Chuckles Special' (see Hall), barring any trades or unforeseen contract extensions (though we'll speculate that Kazmir will get his soon) the 2008 payroll only has six salaries locked in, those six total 14.9 million, basically half of what the Rays payroll is this year, out of six players.

Moving ahead to 2009, only three salaries are locked in, same as 2010, amazingly in 2009 those three equate to 17.5 million, and in 2010 they equal up to 22.25 million. Keep in mind all of that is withstanding extensions to Kazmir, Gomes, Cantu, and perhaps Shields contracts, as well as any free agent signing or contract consumed via trade.

Let's go to the 2007 off-season (basically a year from now), if the team wishes to increase by 15% from 2007 to 2008 the team would need to get it's payroll to 29 million, very doable considering, again, a few contract extensions will soon be in place. In 2009 (let's assume the 2008 Rays payroll is 30 million) the Rays 15% increase would be about 35 million, again moving to 2010, let's say the payroll is into the 50 million range, the payroll would then need to be increased to about 57 million. Within the next three seasons we should say about a 32 million payroll increase, realistic? Absolutely, is it probable? I'd venture to say yes, and quite frankly I wouldn't doubt if the payroll exceeded these figures.

Let's look at how much the team would spend over the next few years, 2008 we would need to add about 15 million between 34 players on the 40 man to equate to the 15% increase. 2009, 37 players would need to make up 18 million, 2010 about 25 million. Again this is with only Akinori Iwamura, Carl Crawford, and Rocco Baldelli under contract with salaries locked in. We must assume players on the roster like Delmon will earn higher amounts of money through their arbitration seasons.

Arbitration is of course the fourth, or in some late season promotions cases, fifth and sixth seasons in a players original contract. The team owns the rights to a minor leaguer or any drafted player through his first six seasons, the first three the team pays the player anything they want, abiding by the league minimum, in most cases the player by now should be in the majors, in which they either settle with the team (basically the team gives a `fair' offer, the player responds with his idea of `fair') if they can't agree they go in front of a non-partial arbitrator who looks at statistical evidence from both sides and decides what is the player's `true' value in dollars.

This can happen for a max of three years, now what the Rays have done is take players like Crawford and Rocco and sign four year `real deals' before they began arbitration, which also takes away a season of potential free agency from the before mentioned players. In both cases the deals look outrageously generous considering the market today, I mean when potentially the best outfield in baseball is making less than 7 million combined next season, and two are past their arbitration years, you count your lucky stars and ask for another.

So what am I saying here? Basically the DRO didn't lie to you, they aren't being cheapskates (see the loss in the books last season, and the continuing upgrades to the stadium), and while 26 million seems sort of pathetic for a team, when 28 of your 40 players are in arb or pre-arb years, you really can't expect a substantial amount of dollars being shelled out towards the team as a whole, though look at the three players (Aki, C.C., Rocco) who have gotten deals, and you can see they have definitely `gotten theirs'.

[editor's note, by R.J. Anderson] Feel free to check out the figures for yourself, here, though please take not I did this before the Dohmann contract amount was announced, though 420k over one season doesn't drastically affect my intent.