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Opening Day Cash Payrolls

From a straight cash perspective the Mets, Yankees, & Padres (all teams you’ve probably heard a lot about this winter) lead the league entering the 2023 season.

The Mets bring an historic $334M guaranteed cash payroll into the year, $60M more than the MLB leading Dodgers accounted for in 2022.

On the side of the spectrum the Oakland A’s project to carry a $55M cash payroll into the year, including 18 players on near minimum pre-arbitration salaries. The Orioles (est. $66M), and Pirates (est. $72M) round out the bottom of the payroll list for now.

2023 MLB Cash Payrolls

Opening Day Tax Payrolls

Obviously nothing is complete until the season is complete, but an opening day span across the league shows us a range of CBT payrolls like we’ve never seen before. Tax payrolls are based on the average salary of a contract, not necessarily the amount of cash a team is spending this season. The MLB tax threshold for the 2023 season is $233,000,000.

The Mets lead the way at a projected $376M. If this holds, they’ll owe a whopping $103M bill, bringing their total expenditures to nearly $480M for the season.

7 teams project to be over the threshold to start the year: Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Padres, Blue Jays, Dodgers, & Braves.

On the low side, 4 teams open the season projecting to account for less than $100M of tax salary: Athletics, Orioles, Pirates, & Reds. 


Opening Day Tax Payroll Projections

New York Mets $376,807,499
New York Yankees $293,001,666
Philadelphia Phillies $255,246,091
San Diego Padres $251,291,060
Toronto Blue Jays $250,259,445
Los Angeles Dodgers $243,209,124
Atlanta Braves $241,969,166
Los Angeles Angels $224,391,666
Chicago Cubs $222,199,047
San Francisco Giants $218,476,666
Houston Astros $216,340,476
Texas Rangers $214,244,826
Boston Red Sox $213,732,499
Chicago White Sox $209,561,666
Colorado Rockies $191,433,797
St. Louis Cardinals $183,026,387
Seattle Mariners $182,615,237
Minnesota Twins $165,755,713
Milwaukee Brewers $139,165,554
Detroit Tigers $136,613,499
Arizona Diamondbacks $133,719,523
Tampa Bay Rays $128,177,154
Washington Nationals $122,619,999
Miami Marlins $117,666,666
Cleveland Guardians $116,519,523
Kansas City Royals $105,141,666
Cincinnati Reds $99,791,166
Pittsburgh Pirates $91,204,166
Baltimore Orioles $88,657,965
Oakland Athletics $76,061,666


Top 2023 Salaries

We enter the 2023 season with 52 players set to earn at least $20M for the upcoming year. 16 of those will earn $30M+, while 3 (Scherzer, Verlander, Judge) will reel in $40M over the next 6 months.

Top Salary Per Position
Starting Pitcher: Max Scherzer (NYM) / Justin Verlander (NYM): $43,333,333
Relief PItcher: Edwin Diaz (NYM): $19,650,000
Catcher: J.T. Realmuto (PHI): $23,875,000
1st Baseman: Paul Goldschmidt (STL): $26,000,000
2nd Baseman: Jose Altuve (HOU): $26,000,000
Shortstop: Carlos Correa (MIN): $36,000,000
3rd Baseman: Anthony Rendon (LAA): $38,000,000
Outfield: Aaron Judge (NYY): $40,000,000
Outfield: Mike Trout (LAA): $35,450,000
Outfield: Kris Bryant (COL): $27,000,000

Top Positional Spenders

Starting Pitching: Despite letting Jacob deGrom, Chris Bassitt, & Taijuan Walker walk in free agency, the Mets carry a $116M payroll for their 5 projected starting pitchers. The Reds enter 2023 with around $6M allocated to their rotation.

Relief Pitching: The Astros have around $42M allocated to their bullpen, and will rely on it heavily in 2023. The Angels also bulked up their relief pitching experience pool this winter.

Infielders: Despite a starting shortstop making his MLB debut, the Yankees hold baseball’s most expensive infield for 2023, with nearly $72M allocated to their 8 available players.

Outfielders: A splash contract for CF Brandon Nimmo soars the Mets to the top outfield spending spot, with over $50M allocated to Nimmo, Starling Marte, & Mark Canha.

Notable 2024 Free Agents

The list of pending free agents for next winter isn’t quite as strong as the one we just went through, but there are still plenty of names to pull out here - especially if we include potential opt-outs. Browse the full list here: https://www.spotrac.com/mlb/free-agents/2024

However, this is and will remain the Year of Ohtani. We’ve never seen a player like this in the field, and unless something goes terribly wrong over the next 6 months, we’re going to experience a contract like we’ve never seen before as well.

We’ve evaluated Shohei Ohtani from every angle this winter, and as it currently stands he’ll enter the season as a $230M pitcher, and a $330M hitter. So putting a $500M total valuation on the player as a whole certainly tracks.

Will he respond to the spotlight in the same manner that Aaron Judge did 1-year ago? Baseball enthusiasts across the world can only dream.