clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Tampa Bay Rays & Tom Brady

Even the simplest thought experiments show there’s nobody like Tom Brady in baseball.

New York Giants v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Unless you’ve been quarantined under a rock. You would’ve heard the latest NFL news in where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed NFL Veteran Tom Brady.

Tom Brady is possibly the most decorative NFL Player of all time, and this signing alone has boosted the Buccaneers’ playoff odds.

Now, this got me thinking. The Buccaneers are splurging for Tom Brady (albeit for the short term). Meanwhile, Tampa Bay Lightning have spent a collective $207 million on three players. Accordingly, both teams are also experiencing incredible success selling tickets.

So what can the Rays learn from this? Could we ever look forward to a uber mega contract signing? Would we want a contract like Brady’s?


  • Rays’ are not in the same location as the Buccaneers and Lightning.
  • The Rays have their payroll limitations that the other franchises apparently do not.
  • Therefore, I’m going to do my best to compare CBAs, and use a percentage of total payroll in relation to these big signings.
  • I’ll be using for official payroll obligations by team.

First, lets see the percentage of the biggest signing per team in relation to the salary.

Highest Paid Player per Tampa Bay Team

Player Salary per year Team Salary Percentage of total salary
Player Salary per year Team Salary Percentage of total salary
Tom Brady $30,000,000 $174,000,000 17.24%
Nikita Kucherov $12,000,000 $82,004,856 14.63%
Charlie Morton $15,000,000 $58,926,866 25.46%

At first I was surprised to see the Rays at the top of the list with having one player with the as the biggest portion of total salary; however, that can be expected when the Rays are running the lowest payroll in the MLB.

In comparison, the Lightning are 3rd in the league, and the Buccaneers are 20th in the league with the Tom Brady signing moving up 11 spots from 31st.

Lets see some league adjustments:

Brady MLB Adjustment

Team Payroll Rank MLB Comparison MLB Payroll Charlie Morton Percentage
Team Payroll Rank MLB Comparison MLB Payroll Charlie Morton Percentage
Tampa Bay Lightning 3rd Chicago Cubs $184,686,000 8.12%
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20th Millwaukee Brewers $94,451,826 15.88%
Brady MLB Adjustment Sportrac

Comparing how the Buccaneers and Lightning both Rank in their respective leagues gives us a better idea of the context: the percentages are smaller using the the most expensive player salary this year for the Rays’, in Charlie Morton. Lets hope that if the Rays ever got to a nearly $200 million payroll they’re most expensive player would not be $15 million.

Brady will be the highest paid free agent based on AAV with $30 million, and although FA deals as a whole are different between MLB, NHL and NFL, the AAV in regards to “elite” players is pretty consistent, save for the NHL where the highest current AAV is $12.5 million.

Brady’s projected contract takes up 17.24% of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers total payroll.

What kind of salary could the Rays afford if they had the payroll of the Tampa Bay Lightning or Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

Brady Player Percentage

MLB Payroll Comp Total Payroll Brady Percentage Result
MLB Payroll Comp Total Payroll Brady Percentage Result
Chicago Cubs $184,686,000.00 17.24% $31,839,866.40
Milwaulkee Brewers $94,451,826 17.24% $16,283,494.80
Brady Budget

Now we are talking! The Brady Budget for the theoretical Rays would be somewhere between $16.2 million and $31.8 million AAV. Using the 2020 Free Agent Class, here are some of the top players signed between those numbers:

  • Zack Wheeler -$23.6 million
  • Josh Donaldson - $23 million
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu - $20 million
  • Yasmani Grandal - $18.25 million
  • Marcell Ozuna - $18 million

To be honest, that list is a little underwhelming. None of these are in the conversation for being the GOAT in the sport. We gotta dream a little bigger.

What happens when you expand it across MLB for all players and contracts?

  • Miguel Cabrera, David Price, Clayton Kershaw - $31 million
  • Manny Machado, Max Scherzer - $30 million
  • Yoenis Cespedes - $27.5 million
  • Joey Votto - $22.5 million
  • Kris Bryant - $18.6 million
  • Freddie Freeman - $16.875 million

A better list, but there are plenty more players to choose from. Tom Brady will be the biggest FA signing of the NFL off-season this year, but if you could sign every player at every off-season, then this would look vastly different (another thought experiment for another day). So it isn’t fair to compare non-FA to current FA on the MLB market.

Even if we do cast the list of current MLB players’ salaries into our net of potential FA for this Rays team, none of them really compare to Tom Brady, or even the Drew Brees’, Patrick Mahomes’, and [insert impact QB here].

What kind of MLB player could draw out hours long wait times for season tickets?

We all know that NFL players, and especially QBs have the biggest impact on a per game basis. The QB runs the offense, and are cornerstone players that you build around. The baseball equivalent is probably a pitcher, but for the sake of arguments and fun thought experiments, lets compare a franchise position player as well.

So how much is Tom Brady making on a per-game status?

$30 million per season / 17(?) regular season games = $1.7 million per game.

Gerrit Cole is going to make $36 million per season, which would put him at $1.2 million per game if he made 30 starts, and if we do a 1:1 ratio of 17 starts that is only $20.4 million. If we used Brady’s rate of $1.7 million for 30 starts, that pitcher would be paid a cool $51 million dollars this year.

Is there any MLB player not named Mike Trout that would be worth that type of money? Even if the Rays magically went and signed Trout for $51 million per year for 5 years (which somehow would still be underpaying him), would season tickets sell out? How about Jersey sales?

There are a million factors of why the Rays couldn’t do this, but even if it were in the realm of possibility, I’m not sure if anybody in the MLB could have the social and economic impact that Tom Brady going to the Buccaneers could.

Congrats Bucs fans!


Who would the Rays sign that would be Similar to Tom Brady?

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    Mike Trout
    (130 votes)
  • 9%
    Clayton Kershaw
    (18 votes)
  • 7%
    Mookie Betts
    (14 votes)
  • 7%
    Max Scherzer
    (14 votes)
  • 3%
    Other (List in the Comments)
    (7 votes)
183 votes total Vote Now