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Rays 2017 Opening Day Roster Salaries Up 6% from 2016

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It’s still a modest increase and far from league average, but 2017 opening day salaries rank 4th highest in Rays history

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Forbes recently put out “The 2017 Opening Day Payrolls For All 30 MLB Teams” and included the increase or decrease year-over-year. It’s an interesting item to sift through, a way to assess the direction each team is headed in financially. What may be most interesting is to compare how Rays spending compares to their rivals, and how it may change heading into 2018.

Rays Spending vs Rivals Spending

AL East Opening day salaries:

  • Rays: $71,351,611, up 6%, ‘16 $67,291,008
  • Jays: $143,941,100, up 4.3%, ‘16 $138,063,228
  • Orioles: $164,261,299, up 11.1%, ‘16 $147,894,713
  • Red Sox: $178,818,052, down 6.1%, ‘16 $190,377,215
  • Yankees: $195,282,058, down 13.3%, ‘16 $225,228,650

Next 2 lowest AL Teams

  • Athletics: $81,738,334, which is $10,386,723 more than the Rays
  • White Sox: $100,054,937, which is $28,703,326 more than the Rays

Note: the White Sox are in a major rebuild and spending approximately 129% what the Rays are spending. Food for thought.

Rays vs AL Average Opening Day Salary

  • AL Total Spent for opening day in 2017: $2,125,499,286 which averages to $141,699,952 per team. That means the Rays are spending approximately HALF of what the average AL team is spending.
  • That total is up $5,170,889 on average from what AL teams spent in 2016, which is up 3.8% on average.

Rays 2017 Opening Day vs Rays 2018 Opening Day

Ok, so we know the Rays begin the 2017 season with $71,351,611 in salaries. They seem competitive, and have many youngsters set to make an impact in 2018. Simultaneously, they have MANY arbitration eligible players and also have some players due for some raises. So how may the next opening day salaries total look?

To come up with an approximate answer, we need to make many assumptions. Don’t take these too seriously, as we know many are likely to change, but we’re making an educated guess here.

Here are the assumptions:

  • Colby Rasmus ($5M), Alex Cobb ($4.2M), Logan Morrison ($2.5M), Rickie Weeks ($1.5M), Tommy Hunter ($1.4M), and Peter Bourjos ($1.35M) become Free Agents (total $15.95M)
  • The Rays sign all arbitration eligible players
  • The Rays hang on to all other players including picking up Nathan Eovaldi’s $2M option

Raises

  • Wilson Ramos gets a $4.5M raise
  • Evan Longoria gets a $500K raise
  • Chris Archer gets a $1.499M raise
  • Kevin Kiermaier gets a $1.5M raise

All added up that’s $8M in raises year-over-year before we get to the Arbitration guys

Arbitration cases (16) (with 2017 salary in brackets, using $535K for league minimum)

ARB 1 (6): Chase Whitley ($535K), Curt Casali ($535K), Matt Duffy ($545,300), Steven Souza ($546,700), Alex Colome ($547,900), Jumbo Diaz ($557,500)

ARB 2 (8): Jake Odorizzi ($4,100,000), Brad Miller ($3,575,000), Corey Dickerson ($3,025,000), Brad Boxberger ($1,600,000), Xavier Cedeno ($1,300,000), Danny Farquhar ($900,000), Tim Beckham ($885,000), Jesus Sucre ($630,000)

ARB 3 (2): Derek Norris ($1,200,000), Shawn Tolleson ($1,000,000)

Since in 2017 the average salary of eligible players this winter rose from $1.79 million to $3.82 million, it’s essentially what we can expect to see, but it obviously depends a lot on playing opportunity and performance.

With that in mind, we’ll use the following much lower than expected totals for the players listed above.

ARB 1 (6): Chase Whitley ($1M), Curt Casali ($535K), Matt Duffy ($1.2M), Steven Souza ($3M), Alex Colome ($4M), Jumbo Diaz ($900K)

ARB 2 (8): Jake Odorizzi ($7,200,000), Brad Miller ($6,200,000), Corey Dickerson ($4,500,000), Brad Boxberger ($2,000,000), Xavier Cedeno ($2,900,000), Danny Farquhar ($1,200,000), Tim Beckham ($1,100,000), Jesus Sucre ($1,000,000)

ARB 3 (2): Derek Norris ($2,500,000), Shawn Tolleson ($1,500,000)

Total: increase of $19.25M (from the 2017 total of $20.947M to a new very approximate value of $40.2M). That increase, along with the raises noted above, comes out to $27.25M increase in salaries overall. Less the $15.95M saved from FAs leaving, results in an a projected increase of $11.3M in 2018 opening day salaries.

That would bring the Rays to just under to approximately $82,00,000 for 2018, an increase of 13%.

Final Thoughts

The capabilities of this front office has been highlighted by the ability to field a competitive team despite an absurdly restrictive budget. We tip our hats to them for making that happen; however, as with anything in life, sometimes things come to a head.

That may happen next year, or, the front office may decide to finally forego the off loading of salaries for once and invest in maintaining this already strong roster. But the time is fast approaching where the overall payroll will need to increase significantly to remain competitive.