Lynne Sladky/Associated Press
As many MLB teams made an effort to get under the $197 million luxury-tax threshold this offseason, the effects can be seen on Opening Day payrolls.
According to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com), the Boston Red Sox are projected to have the highest payroll in baseball at around $223 million. The San Francisco Giants ($203 million), Chicago Cubs ($183 million), Los Angeles Dodgers ($180 million) and the Washington Nationals ($180 million) round out the top five.
The New York Yankees come in at seventh with a projected payroll of $167 million, which, according to the AP, would be their lowest since the 2003 season.
While the Bronx Bombers’ payroll may be down, it’s all relative.
Masahiro Tanaka exercised the final three years and $67 million on his contract in November. The team also re-signed CC Sabathia and signed Neil Walker. And of course, the Yankees added $295 million man Giancarlo Stanton.
It marks the end of a four-year run atop the payroll rankings for the Dodgers, who managed to dump unwanted salary in December. It was just three years ago they set an MLB record with a $270 million Opening Day payroll.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Oakland Athletics and the Chicago White Sox enter the season with the lowest projected payrolls, coming in at around $71 million.
Also of note, the average salary in 2018 will reportedly be $4.45 million.
Finding ways to get under the luxury-tax threshold was a top priority for many teams. Clubs that did so will have their tax rates reset, putting them in position to make a run at the star-studded 2018 free-agent class that includes Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
Of course, teams’ unwillingness to break the bank this winter had a negative impact on the free-agent market, with many players having to wait and ultimately sign lower-than-expected deals.
There are still two days between now and the first pitch of the season. There could still be some activity, but most teams know where they stand.