For the first time in 16 years, the Yankees are not the highest-paying team in Major League Baseball.
The Dodgers have overtaken the throne with their projected Opening Day payroll of $235 million, according to Ronald Blum of The Associated Press. That figure is $31 million more than what the Yankees will spend on player salaries, a bit of a surprise considering Brian Cashman and company handed out close to half a billion dollars in new contracts during the offseason. The last time New York wasn't at the top of the league in player payroll was 1998, when the Orioles led baseball at $70.4 million, roughly $7 million more than the second-place Yankees.
Even if suspended third baseman Alex Rodriguez earned his full salary this season, the Yankees still would have fallen short of the Dodgers by about $10 million. That's what happens when a team has seven different players set to earn at least $15 million in a single season.
So, that begs the question -- how often do the top five teams in the league in payroll advance to the postseason? Over the past 10 seasons, not once has each of the five highest-paying clubs reached the playoffs. In fact, no more than three of the top five advanced in the same season during that time. And, in half of those years, only two of the top five made it past the regular season.
The Mets are the biggest offenders over the last decade at being in the top five in payroll but missing out on the postseason. In a seven-year stretch from 2004 through 2010, the Mets were one of the five highest-paying clubs in the game but advanced to the playoffs only once. The Phillies missed the playoffs four times while in the top five, and the Angels, Red Sox and White Sox each failed to advance on three separate occasions.
|Top 5 MLB payroll teams 2004-2013|
|Year||Playoff teams||Non-playoff teams|
|2013||Dodgers, Red Sox, Tigers||Yankees, Phillies|
|2012||Yankees, Tigers||Phillies, Red Sox, Angels|
|2011||Yankees, Phillies||Red Sox, Angels, White Sox|
|2010||Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies||Cubs, Mets|
|2009||Yankees, Red Sox||Mets, Cubs, Tigers|
|2008||Red Sox, White Sox||Yankees, Mets, Tigers|
|2007||Yankees, Red Sox, Angels||Mets, White Sox|
|2006||Yankees, Mets||Red Sox, Angels, White Sox|
|2005||Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals||Mets, Phillies|
|2004||Yankees, Red Sox, Angels||Mets, Phillies|
The Yankees made eight postseason appearances while sitting atop the league in payroll during all 10 of those seasons. The Red Sox rank second, qualifying for the playoffs seven times.