The Rays are a small market team, and that reality comes with not only a small payroll, but reminders across baseball on an annual basis that the team is underfunded in comparison to large market organizations like those in New York, Boston, or Chicago.
Today brought another such reminder, when the top selling jerseys of the 2016 offseason were released. Four of the top five players were from the World Series winning Cubs, which should come as no surprise. There were never going to be any Rays in sight.
Among the top twenty names, the closest a player comes to representing a small market team is Cleveland. The Cubs and their ilk are always destined to dominate this list.
So disparate are the differences between Tampa Bay and Chicago that it was pointed out to me today that the Cubs sold enough World Series merchandise in the first 24-hours of their victory to cover the Rays 2017 payroll.
Hard figures are hard to come by, but an industry source said it appeared fans spent about $70 million on World Series gear the first day after the Cubs took the title. That would be a record not just for baseball, but across all pro sports.
"Typically, when a team wins a championship, the real intense shopping period is immediately after that title is won, so 48 hours, a week or so," said Matt Powell, sports industry analyst for the NPD Group, a market research firm. "But for the kind of sustained interest we're seeing in the Cubs going on this long and, it appears, into spring, this is unusual."
The final total would be $75 million of merchandise sold within 24-hours of the Cubs winning the World Series. (h/t Al Yellon)
Cot’s Contracts calculates the Tampa Bay Rays Opening Day payroll as $ 70,064,700 for 2017, the fourth highest payroll in team history.