GOBankingRates

Which MLB Teams Spent the Most This Offseason?

LARRY W SMITH/EPA-EFE / Shutterstock.com

LARRY W SMITH/EPA-EFE / Shutterstock.com

Baseball is truly unique among American sports in a variety of ways, not the least of which is its differing rules across its two leagues. But one of the most consequential ways baseball is unlike the other three major professional American sports leagues is the lack of a salary cap. The NFL, NBA and NHL have all opted to promote parity — and pare payrolls — by instituting a salary cap that prevents big market teams from simply outspending the competition. Not so in baseball, where the “luxury tax” has only appeared to have a marginal impact on the spending of the richest teams.

The league’s largest active payroll is — surprise, surprise — the New York Yankees at $219 million. That amount is almost five times more than the team with the lowest active payroll, the Baltimore Orioles at $50 million, and those two teams will play each other 18 times next season. For some perspective, the Yankees finished the 2019 season with 103 wins. The Orioles? Fifty-four, which was good for second-worst in the league. To put it lightly, if your favorite team isn’t spending the cash, the odds of them finishing the season with a World Series title are at least diminished.

Sure, any team can use good scouting and player development to build their prospects into budding young stars whether they have a truckload of cash or not. But, those stars will eventually hit free agency and demand the massive contract only big-market teams can afford — making it an uphill slog for smaller-market teams to compete.

That’s why GOBankingRates broke down this MLB offseason by the one metric that matters most: cash. By looking at which teams spent the most total money on free agents — and how much payroll they added for the upcoming year, based on the average annual rate in those contracts — you can get a better sense of which clubs helped position themselves to make a run at the pennant and which ones might be anticipating a season as cellar dwellers.

So, here’s a look at which teams haven’t added much — or any — free agent talent prior to the 2020 season and which ones appear to be in it to win it.

Last updated: Feb. 27, 2020

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Tampa Bay Rays

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $0
  • Total spent: $0
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 0%

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Colorado Rockies

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $0
  • Total spent: $0
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 0%
John Froschauer/AP / Shutterstock.com

Oakland Athletics

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $3,750,000
  • Total spent: $7,500,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 4.02%

 

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Baltimore Orioles

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $3,800,000
  • Total spent: $3,800,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 5.18%
Gene J Puskar/AP / Shutterstock.com

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $3,933,500
  • Total spent: $3,933,500
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 5.41%
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Chicago Cubs

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $4,300,000
  • Total spent: $4,300,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 1.94%
Gene J Puskar/AP / Shutterstock.com

Seattle Mariners

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $5,113,500
  • Total spent: $5,113,500
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 3.54%
Ross D Franklin/AP / Shutterstock.com

Cleveland Indians

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $6,250,000
  • Total spent: $6,250,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 5.80%
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St. Louis Cardinals

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $7,000,000
  • Total spent: $7,000,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 4.02%

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Kansas City Royals

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $7,550,000
  • Total spent: $7,550,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 7.21%
LARRY W SMITH/EPA-EFE / Shutterstock.com

Houston Astros

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $8,150,000
  • Total spent: $15,650,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 4.83%
Ralph Freso/AP / Shutterstock.com

San Diego Padres

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $13,000,000
  • Total spent: $43,000,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 12.47%
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San Francisco Giants

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $13,750,000
  • Total spent: $13,750,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 7.70%
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Boston Red Sox

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $15,100,000
  • Total spent: $15,100,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 6.59%
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Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $15,250,000
  • Total spent: $15,250,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 7.37%
Wilfredo Lee/AP / Shutterstock.com

Miami Marlins

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $16,600,000
  • Total spent: $25,350,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 21.96%
Frank Franklin II/AP / Shutterstock.com

Detroit Tigers

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $17,850,000
  • Total spent: $17,850,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 15.57%
Kathy Willens/AP / Shutterstock.com

New York Mets

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $26,800,000
  • Total spent: $27,850,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 18.31%

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Texas Rangers

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $31,183,333
  • Total spent: $57,850,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 20.99%

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Milwaukee Brewers

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $33,791,667
  • Total spent: $49,875,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 24.87%
Darron Cummings/AP / Shutterstock.com

Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $35,150,000
  • Total spent: $111,150,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 29.56%
Julio Cortez/AP / Shutterstock.com

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $38,850,000
  • Total spent: $110,850,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 34.88%

 

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Philadelphia Phillies

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $40,600,000
  • Total spent: $135,000,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 25.34%
Matt York/AP / Shutterstock.com

Cincinnati Reds

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $42,425,000
  • Total spent: $145,925,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 33.04%

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New York Yankees

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $49,300,000
  • Total spent: $337,300,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 22.11%
Mark J Terrill/AP / Shutterstock.com

Los Angeles Angels

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $50,850,000
  • Total spent: $260,850,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 31.53%
Frank Franklin II/AP / Shutterstock.com

Minnesota Twins

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $55,000,000
  • Total spent: $134,000,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 43.91%

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Chicago White Sox

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $59,750,000
  • Total spent: $151,500,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 65.39%
Charlie Riedel/AP / Shutterstock.com

Atlanta Braves

  • Payroll added for 2020 season: $63,083,333
  • Total spent: $97,750,000
  • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 43.82%
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Washington Nationals

    • Payroll added for 2020 season: $75,250,000
    • Total spent: $317,750,000
    • New payroll as percentage of 2019 level: 43.67%

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    Methodology: Using Spotrac, all of the free agents with signed contracts were gathered and sorted by the team that they signed with. The total promised MLB payroll and the new promised payroll for the 2020 season based on the average annual salary of each contract was calculated and the teams were listed ranked from those with the least payroll added for 2020 to most. Data was compiled and up to date on Feb. 17, 2020.