Dodgers surpass Yankees as highest paying MLB team

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers are projected to shell out about $165 million more than the last team that outspent the Yankees.

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.

As was the case in 2013, the Phillies, Red Sox and Tigers round out the top five.

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.

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