Every year, teams emerge from spring training with the hopes that the next fall will bring something better than the previous one. Clubs will usually spare no expense in signing new and hungry talent so that the hunt for October will be much more successful. With squads like Detroit signing the Miguel Cabreras of this world for $292 million, you can imagine that the "arms" race amongst big MLB clubs can run up a very expensive tab. Indeed, with billionaires running MLB teams these days, and with revenue streams at their highest, it’s no wonder contracts are also at an all-time high.
To put things into perspective, all the teams on this countdown have a higher payroll than the GDP of some countries, and that also means that Miguel Cabrera’s $292 million contract also is. To think, Cabrera will posses more wealth than what has been created in some countries in a year. Even more amazing is that Cabrera will earn all this money while the city he plays in Detroit, a city which recently filed for bankruptcy. All that to say that baseball is big business.
10 Toronto Blue Jays - 2014 Payroll: $132,628,700
With Mark Buehrle, Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes and R.A. Dickey set to haul in over $10 million each in 2014, it’s easy to see why baseball fans in Toronto had high expectations for their Blue Jays in 2013. All the players they signed and the money they spent was geared towards bringing another title to the Jays. But with a season that fell very short from expectations, Toronto is left to pick up the pieces, which include an extremely large payroll. With uncertain pitching, the Jays could find themselves behind the 8 ball once again. Bautista cannot knock out 40 dingers every year, and the fans cannot handle another disappointing season. But in the highly competitive AL East, the Blue Jays could have another rough year ahead of them.
9 Washington Nationals - 2014 Payroll: $134,704,437
As a Montreal resident and former Expos fan, this writer always finds himself rooting for the Washington Nationals. After finishing with an 86-76 record in 2013 and a second place finish in the NL East, baseball fans in Washington have good reasons to feel good about the 2014 season. But with Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Rafael Soriano set to earn more than $20 million in 2014; the Nationals have a lot invested in the most recent edition of the team. With the Phillies, the Marlins, the Mets and the Braves in the same division, its no wonder that the Nats feel the need to throw money at their star players.
8 Texas Rangers - 2014 Payroll: $136,036,172
With some grade A talent, the Rangers have run up a tab that goes with it. With the signing of Prince Fielder at the cost of $24 million in 2014, the Rangers are hoping that they can finally get over the championship hump. After coming dangerously close to being World Champions in previous years, Texas baseball fans are hoping that Fielder can contribute to a squad that lost slugger Josh Hamilton, but that can still count on good pitching from the likes of Yu Darvish. However, Fielder’s production hasn’t been nearly as good as when he was in Milwaukee. Most of all, the Rangers need to prove that they can fly close to the sun without getting burned.
7 San Francisco Giants - 2014 Payroll: $154,185,878
With the Giants having to pay their two starting pitchers close to $40 million in total for the 2014 season, San Fran fans should expect nothing less than stellar pitching from Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum. With the 2012 title still fresh on the mantle, the core of that championship team is still intact. But with Buster Posey still under contract for the foreseeable future, and impending free agents like Pablo Sandoval, the time is still now for the team from the bay area. With the Dodgers in the same division, the Giants really need to be competitive, especially when their eternal rivals have cashed all their chips and are all in for a title run.
6 Los Angeles Angels - 2014 Payroll: $155,692,000
After a disappointing 2013, the Angels have very good reasons to feel optimistic about their 2014 season. Although Albert Pujols had a sub-par first year with the Angels, nobody would be surprised if one of the best hitters of this era would come back with a vengeance. Not only that, but the Angels can depend on starting pitching from their aces such as C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver, who also come with heavy price tags of $16 million each in 2014. Moreover, the Anaheim fan base can count on offense and spectacular defense from one of the most exciting players in baseball: Mike Trout. Even better, Trout is still riding on his rookie deal. If the team can come together, one of the most talented squads could finally reach the success they should have.
5 Detroit Tigers - 2014 Payroll: $162,228,527
Although Detroit residents don’t have very much to cheer about these days, the Tigers should be a glimmer of hope. With Miguel Cabrera re-signed to his multi-million dollar long-term deal, and with the former Cy Young Award winner still on payroll until 2020, the Tigers can still aspire to win the pennant and take it all in 2014. After a disappointing end to the postseason in 2013, Detroit baseball fans have very good reason to expect more from their club this time around. With the AL Central not being a very strong division, the time is now to win the division, get a top seed and make another title run with all this quality talent on the roster.
4 Boston Red Sox - 2014 Payroll: $162,817,411
The 2013 World Series Champions may not actually need to fear the championship hangover. The Lackeys, Victorinos and Ortizs of the 2013 edition are still under contract for 1 to 2 years before both the Sox and the players need to renew their vows. With the Yankees declining, the Rays unpredictable, and the Jays coming off a disappointing 2013, the AL East is again up for grabs. But 2013 really was special for the Sox. With everything that happened to Boston, the team really did benefit from an emotional surge that really pushed them to win it all. However, that’s not to say that the Red Sox can’t repeat. If anything, it’s what Boston is expecting.
3 Philadelphia Phillies - 2014 Payroll: $180,052,506
For quite a few years now, the Phillies’ name has been thrown around as possible World Series contenders since they last won it in 2008. The pieces haven’t really come together for a team that has literally thrown money at their star players. Signing Roy Halladay didn’t turn out the way they wanted, so instead they signed Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels to the tune of $25 million and $22,5 million respectively in 2014. That’s not to mention the other $25 million that Ryan Howard will get for his batting abilities. But with all this high-level talent, and all this money being thrown around, it’s really enamouring for Philadelphians that they haven’t won it all again.
2 New York Yankees - 2014 Payroll: $203,812,506
It won’t surprise anyone to find the perennial high rollers of baseball near the top of this list. George Steinbrenner may have passed, but his philosophy of throwing money at players to keep them happy seems to be part of that New York state of mind. Teixeira, Sabathia, Tanaka and Ellsbury are all set to rake in north of $20 million in 2014, and not to count the Derek Jeters of the team who will earn more than $10 million this season. Those who think the Yankees are carrying all this dead weight with Alex Rodriguez are wrong: Rodriguez’s salary is suspended with his ongoing investigation for performance enhancing drugs, and he was only signed to earn $2 million in 2014.
1 Los Angeles Dodgers - 2014 Payroll: $235,295,219
Los Angeles and its fans are all in: with all the money the Dodgers have decided to pay their players, it’s championship or bust. For example, Zack Greinke will earn $26 million in 2014. Greinke also has three other partners slated to break $20 million this season in Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford. There are also the other six players who will earn more than $10 million this year. Oh, and not to mention that Yasiel Puig hasn’t begun negotiating his extension, which is bound to be astronomical if this campaign is anything like his last. But one thing is sure, many people see Dodger blue storming the field to claim the world championship come October.