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Refried Fish
2005-12-16 22:23
by Mike Carminati

At the risk of not just beating, but pummeling to fine pulp, I want to take one final look at the vivisection of the Florida Marlins. I've estimated that the Marlins have sliced off over $57 M of the $60 M they committed to players last season.

Of course, some of the remaining players will get salary increases given the extra year of experience. I estimated that Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera would be bumped up to about $5M each after arbitration. Brian Moehler just re-signed for $1.5M (up from $400K in 2005). All tolled, assuming that the Marlins fill in their remaining roster spots with league-minimum salaries, I estimate that they will have a team payroll of a little over $19M or almost $41M less than last year. It's also only about double the league minimum payroll ($8M based on 25 players at league minimum, $320K).

They will in effect have cut two-thirds of their payroll in one offseason. Has anything like this ever happened before? I can't imagine it.

Unfortunately, most player salaries and team payrolls were not published until about 20 years ago, and most of what we have until recently we have thanks to the late Doug Pappas. I ran the payroll numbers and here are the teams that cut 40% or more of their salary in one year (including only teams with complete payroll numbers):<.p>
TeamYr Payroll Prev PayrollDiff
Texas Rangers2004 55,050,417 103,491,667-48,441,250
Cleveland Indians2003 48,584,834 78,909,449-30,324,615
Cincinnati Reds1998 23,005,000 49,768,000-26,763,000
Toronto Blue Jays2003 51,269,000 76,864,333-25,595,333
Tampa Bay Devil Rays2002 34,380,000 56,980,000-22,600,000
Pittsburgh Pirates2004 32,227,929 54,812,429-22,584,500
Baltimore Orioles2004 51,623,333 73,877,500-22,254,167
Arizona Diamondbacks2003 80,657,000 102,819,999-22,162,999
Florida Marlins1999 21,085,000 41,322,667-20,237,667
New York Mets2004 96,660,970 116,876,429-20,215,459
Toronto Blue Jays1996 30,555,083 50,590,000-20,034,917

Unfortunately, the Marlins are going to have a tough time topping the 2004 Rangers who cut over $48M from their payroll. Losing A-Rod helped, but he only got them halfway there. Of course, the Rangers went from one of the highest payrolls in baseball to around the league average (which was $59,304,725 in 2004). The Marlins are attempting to go from league average (actually about $5M below it) to about $10M less than any other team.

What if instead we looked at the percentage of payroll lost:

TeamYr Payroll Prev PayrollDiff% Change
Cincinnati Reds1998 23,005,000 49,768,000-26,763,000-54%
Pittsburgh Pirates1997 10,771,667 23,017,500-12,245,833-53%
Florida Marlins1999 21,085,000 41,322,667-20,237,667-49%
Cleveland Indians1992 9,373,044 17,635,000-8,261,956-47%
Texas Rangers2004 55,050,417 103,491,667-48,441,250-47%
Washington Nationals1998 10,641,500 19,295,500-8,654,000-45%
Oakland Athletics1996 21,243,000 37,739,225-16,496,225-44%
Tampa Bay Devil Rays2003 19,630,000 34,380,000-14,750,000-43%
San Diego Padres1994 14,916,333 25,511,333-10,595,000-42%
Pittsburgh Pirates2004 32,227,929 54,812,429-22,584,500-41%
Tampa Bay Devil Rays2002 34,380,000 56,980,000-22,600,000-40%
Toronto Blue Jays1996 30,555,083 50,590,000-20,034,917-40%

It looks like the Marlins are doing something that's never been done before—well, at least in recent memory and if some like Connie Mack cut two-thirds of his payroll, it was never with salary numbers like these.

I repeat, this looks to be an historic season ahead for the Marlins. Whether the end game is contraction, relocation, the sale of the club, or just to extort a new stadium from the locals, I cannot say. But this team has been thoroughly disemboweled. If there are any fans left in Miami, I pity them, and that's something coming from a Phillies fan.

2005-12-17 12:45:21
1.   Murray
You know how people like to say how much fun it can be to watch the kids play ball during a club's rebuilding phase? That's only true when the kids have a chance of winning. Watching your team go out to get brained every night is no fun. If you're a Marlins fan, you're in for some tough times.
2005-12-17 17:59:05
2.   TFD
....and all on Bud's watch.


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