MLB Payrolls Dropped A Collective of $2.47 Billion in 2020

REPORT: MLB Payrolls recorded a drop of  $1.75 billion during the pandemic-shortened season from $4.22 billion, and the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers led with $98.6 million — the smallest payroll for the top spender in 20 years of their history in the league.

MLB Payrolls Dropped A Collective of $2.47 Billion in 2020 - Chris Szagola/Associated Press
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

MLB  payrolls in a season badly affected by the spread of the virus plunged to $1.75 billion. Base wages for 40-man rosters tumbled to $1.54 billion, according to information sent from Major League Baseball to teams on Friday night and obtained by The Associated Press. That was down from $3.99 billion in 2019.

The sudden spread and emergence of the coronavirus last spring led to a colossal economic war between MLB and the MLB Players’ Association over finances (i.e, MLB  payrolls) that nearly derailed the sport before the season could even begin.

Now analysts and experienced doers are starting to see just how much the spread and emergence of the deadly COVID-19 impacted the day-to-day operations of the Major League Baseball, in very detailed. According to Ronald Blum of the Associated Press, MLB team payrolls dropped by nearly $2.5 billion in 2020, going from $4.22 billion in 2019 to $1.75 billion last year.

As Per Blum onto the context

“Base wages for 40-man rosters tumbled to $1.54 billion, according to information sent from Major League Baseball to teams on Friday night and obtained by The Associated Press. That was down from $3.99 billion in 2019.”

“Prorated portions of signing bonuses totalled $120.6 million, down slightly from $122.8 million. Earned bonuses fell to $25 million from $26.9 million.”


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“Buyouts of unexercised 2021 options came to $58.2 million, more than double the $26.9 million for buyouts of unexercised 2020 options, a sign of expense-cutting amid the revenue loss.”

That’s not a surprise, given the sudden change in expected revenues without fans present, but it is noteworthy.

MLB payrolls of teams

The Dodgers won their first title since 1988 as they topped spending for the first time since 2017. The Yankees, at $83.6 million, were No. 2 for the second straight season. The New York Mets were third at $83.4 million.

Houston was fourth at $81.4 million, up from eighth, followed by the Chicago Cubs at $80.6 million, down from third.

Parsing owners’ financial positions after this season’s revenue losses will continue to be a topic of discussion as the free agency moves forward at its glacial pace. Without transparency from owners, the exact losses are difficult to ascertain of MLB payrolls. These numbers – presuming their accuracy – do serve as a significant data point, however.

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