The regular season of Major League Baseball is winding down. Several of the divisions have already been practically decided as of the 20th of September, though the race for the wild card spots in the two leagues are still being hotly contested.
As with any regular season, team rosters have changed since opening day. Those that have fell out of contention have traded away players with massive salaries, while those dreaming big for October and the Fall Classic upgrade with high-priced fixes that may be temporary in nature. Thus, while the New York Yankees still have one of the highest salaries in baseball, it has dropped down to second place as they try to rein in the luxury tax they owe for being over the salary threshold.
Here now is a list of the top 10 MLB teams with the highest payrolls for 2013 as of September 20, 2013.
10. Washington Nationals – $114.2 million
The Washington Nationals entered the season with high hopes of going deeper into the playoffs after last year’s run. After all, they have Stephen Strasburg ready until the playoffs this time. They also have Jordan Zimmerman and the exciting Bryce Harper. As of September 20 however, they are nine games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East, and five and a half games behind a wild card place.
9. Toronto Blue Jays – $117 million
The Toronto Blue Jays were supposed to contend this year despite the fact that they were in the extremely tough AL East. R.A. Dickey is there to complement the team’s highest earners in Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion. It has been a lost year, however, as they have a sub-.500 record, lying 22 games behind the Boston Red Sox.
8. Chicago White Sox – $119.6 million
It was just in 2005 that the Chicago White Sox finally broke the curse of the Black Sox scandal of 1919. Even with a roster that has John Danks, Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko, the White Sox failed to shine under the spotlight of the third largest media market in the country. They are more than 30 games below .500 and they can’t wait for the season to end.
7. Los Angeles Angels – $127.9 million
The Los Angeles Angels was supposed to contend and give LA fans baseball cheers along with the resurgent cross-town rivals Dodgers. They have Josh Hamilton in the books for $17.4 million and Jered Weaver for $16.2 million. Though mathematically not still out of the wild card race as of 20 September, they are dangerously close to being eliminated already as they are eight and a half games out with 10 more left to play.
6. San Francisco Giants – $136 million
The San Francisco Giants own two of the last three World Series rings. They have Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain in their roster, not to mention Hunter Pence and Buster Posey. They also still have Barry Zito for $20 million in the books. The defending champions have a sub-.500 record this year. Even worse, they will probably lose the division title to the hated Dodgers.
5. Boston Red Sox – $140.7 million
The Boston Red Sox has had a wonderful year thus far. They are fighting for the best record in the entire baseball league. They also manhandled their archrival Yankees this year, beating them up 13 games to six and having the honor of formally eliminating New York from the AL East crown. Guys like Jake Peavy, John Lackey, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Elisbury are leading the team. They just hope to continue the magic into October when the real important games come up.
4. Detroit Tigers – $148.4 million
The Detroit Tigers expected nothing less than the division title. Maybe, they are expecting even more, as they boast of a powerhouse lineup that includes a trio of $20 million-dollar men in Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander. The team also has in its arsenal the likes of Torii Hunter and Anibal Sanchez. The team is showing the way as of 20 September with a lead of six games over the Cleveland Indians with 10 to play.
3. Philadelphia Phillies – $170.8 million
The Philadelphia Phillies have the tools to go all the way. They have Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay to lead the way, with Jonathan Papelbon also out there to finish off their opponents. They also boast of Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. Despite that scary lineup, the Phillies are 10 games below .500 as of 20 September, a full 19 games behind the Braves and 15 and a half games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds for the wildcard spots.
2. New York Yankees – $203.4 million
The New York Yankees have traditionally been baseball’s king when it comes to payrolls. That’s why they are the hated empire, as their seemingly bottomless source of money has allowed them to get the best players that an owner could buy. They have Alex Rodriguez, Vernon Wells and CC Sabathia each earning more than $24 million. They got back Alfonso Soriano, who has helped them for the playoff push but who carries a $19 million salary. Derek Jeter has been hurt on and off this year, but they still have the reliable bat of Ichiro Suzuki and the reliable arms of Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera. They’re still battling for a wildcard, but they have already lost the division to the hated Red Sox.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers – $220.4 million
One of baseball’s popular teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers hasn’t won the World Series since 1988. With new ownership that includes Magic Johnson, the team embarked on a buying binge late last season. It didn’t look too good at the start of this season however, as the team struggled initially. Suddenly, they turned it around with one of the hottest periods in baseball history. The team needs to justify the highest payroll in baseball, and with guys like Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford, they hope to bring the team back to baseball royalty.