Maybe it was the short season due to the pandemic or teams like the Red Sox being caught in transition, but half of the 12 highest-spending teams in baseball didn’t make the largest postseason field in the sport’s history.
The Boston Red Sox and New York Mets overspent
As usual, the New York Yankees spent more than any other MLB team this season. With a player payroll of almost $109.5 million for the 60-game season, the perennial AL contenders edged the Los Angeles Dodgers at $105.7 million, according to Spotrac.com.
The Yankees went through a midseason slump and rallied late to finish second in the AL East with the league’s sixth-best record. Meanwhile, the Dodgers rolled up a 43-17 mark in the NL West for the best record in baseball. Behind them was a trail of big-spending also-rans.
Even after trading Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers, the Boston Red Sox finished third in payroll at just under $83.5 million. The Red Sox, New York Mets (fifth in salary at $76.6 million), and Philadelphia Phillies (seventh, $75.6 million) led the list of teams missing the playoffs that were expanded from 10 to 16 teams.
With the San Francisco Giants, Washington Nationals, and Los Angeles Angels also coming up short, six of baseball’s 12 biggest spenders missed the postseason in the easiest year ever to make it.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Tampa Bay Rays, 28th out of 30 teams in spending at $28.3 million, went 40-20 for the best record in the AL.
Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout will be home watching
The 16-team wildcard round of the MLB playoffs opens with four American League games Sept. 29. The National League kicks off the following day.
Missing will be many of the highest-paid players in baseball, beginning with No. 1 Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. Trout was scheduled to make $37.6 million before the pandemic slashed that to $13.9 million for the shortened season. Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees, second on the list, is in.
But three of the next four – Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals, and Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies – played on also-runs this summer.
Of all the teams on the outside looking in over the next month, the Los Angeles Angels should be the most distressed even though fixing what ails them is possible. But Trout, Albert Pujols, Anthony Rendon, and Justin Upton were scheduled to make a combined $113.7 million this season.
Even if they’re all productive, tying up that much money in four players hamstrings an organization. It’s a problem the Boston Red Sox worried about when they traded Mookie Betts and David Price, and it helps explain why general manager Billy Eppler was just fired after the Angels’ fifth straight losing season.
The richest owners fared the worst in 2020
On average, each MLB team is believed to have lost between $150 million and $200 million this season, Huddle Up reported. The leading culprit was the fact that fans were not allowed to attend games.
It seems almost statistically impossible, but the six teams owned by the richest individuals in the sport, according to Forbes, all missed the MLB playoffs:
- Ted Lerner, Washington Nationals, $4,8 billion net worth
- Charles Johnson, San Francisco Giants, $4.5 billion
- Marian Ilitch, Detroit Tigers, $3.8 billion
- Arte Moreno, Los Angeles Angels, $3.3 billion
- John Middleton, Philadelphia Phillies, $3.3 billion
- John Henry, Boston Red Sox, $2.7 billion
Pardon them if they’re feeling buyer’s remorse at the moment.