MLB Goes on Spending Spree



Unlike the NFL and NBA, Major League Baseball has no salary cap.

Unlike the National Football League (NFL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB) has no salary cap. Without a cap, the industry has seen major increases in salaries over the past decade.

Payrolls in the MLB have been rapidly increasing for the past few decades. People like Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, and Bryce Harper are getting paid over 300 million dollars over ten years. What does this mean to the fans? What does this mean for the teams? What does this mean for the game of baseball? These questions will be answered here today., a Minnesota Twins Community, took a deep look at this trend in 2019 and discovered that the average payroll of the MLB’s teams had seen a 44% increase since 2010.

The Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, in their article entitled “Which Sports League has the Most Parity,” found that compared to the NFL and the National Hockey League (NHL), both of which have salary caps, MLB has the widest gap between the highest and the lowest paid teams.    

According to Sports analyst Jordan P. Moran, based on opening day payrolls of 2017, the highest spending team in baseball spent 284% more money than the team with the lowest payroll. Comparatively, the NFL only had a 39% difference, with the NHL and NBA numbers around 60-65%.

The increased salaries of baseball players mean lots of different things for the fans of the game. This rise in payrolls can make things like merchandise, tickets, concessions, etc., all rise in price. According to the Oracle Food and Beverage blog by Katie Sutherland, the average baseball fan spends over $40 on concessions per game. That is absolutely insane, considering that tickets to the games already cost an average of $35. That’s $75 per game!

The Twinkietown article, entitled, “As player salaries have increased, have the fans paid for it?” seems to refute that argument, saying that the rise in concessions has little to do with payroll.  

“MLB teams are run by billionaires, and revenue often increases relative to payroll. Do you realize how many dollars a billion dollars is?” 

His point is that even the most expensive team wouldn’t add up to a single drop in the bucket of the owners. He argues instead that inflation is the main driver of increasing food prices. 

But is the extra money worth it when it comes to winning games? Jordan P. Moran’s data says, up to a point. 

“Historical data of the past 17 years suggests that there is a minimum payroll threshold needed to have a legitimate chance at a division pennant and winning the World Series,” he said. His data suggests that each $11 million increase in payroll results in an extra win during the season. 

The bleacher report article “Do Consistent Payroll Increases Actually Lead to Success on the Field in MLB?” similarly argues that spending can mean a higher chance of winning.  

“In a nutshell, the lesson learned here is that spending money is by no means the evil thing it’s sometimes made out to be. Several of the teams discussed above—the 2002 Angels, 2003 Marlins, 2005 White Sox, 2008 Phillies, and both the 2010 and 2012 Giants—won the World Series during their spending sprees. A few others—the 2003 Yankees, 2006 Tigers, 2007 Rockies, and 2009 Phillies—went to the World Series,” the article states.