2014 Payroll Allocation, By Position

In Part One of this series, published yesterday, I ranked the projected 2014 Opening Day payrolls, estimated the number of pre-arbitration players on each Opening Day roster, and calculated the percentage of each team’s payroll attributed to the highest paid player.

Today, in Part Two, I break down the payrolls even further, into four component parts: the starting rotation, the starting lineup, the bullpen and the bench. In so doing, I made a judgment on who was likely to slot into these roles to start the season. FanGraphs’ Depth Charts and MLB Depth Charts were my go-to sources, but I made a deliberate decision to exclude all non-roster invitees from Opening Day rosters, as those players’ salaries aren’t included on Cot’s Contracts. Invariably, some of my judgment calls will be wrong. Feel free to note those in the comments, as many did yesterday in Part One.

How much will teams spend on their starting rotation, as a percentage of the overall payroll:

Before we get to the numbers, a note about methodology. Several teams have starters who are on the disabled list. On the Los Angeles Dodgers, for example, Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett will be sidelined for the part of the season. I included their salaries as part of the Dodgers’ Opening Day starting rotation because to exclude them would have presented misleading information on how much the Dodgers are spending on starting pitchers this season.

Now, the numbers, in chart form:

Num Team 2014 Payroll Starters’ Combined Salary Starters as % of Payroll
1 Phillies $175,500,000 $80,675,000 46.10%
2 Giants $147,000,000 $57,800,000 39.30%
3 Brewers $100,500,000 $38,825,000 38.60%
4 Twins $82,500,000 $31,580,000 38.30%
5 Tigers $161,000,000 $60,325,000 37.50%
6 Mariners $87,500,000 $31,857,143 36.40%
7 Dodgers $223,000,000 $77,400,000 34.70%
8 Red Sox $155,000,000 $51,525,000 33.25%
9 Blue Jays $136,000,000 $44,700,000 32.90%
10 Cubs $89,000,000 $29,245,000 32.85%
11 Yankees $197,500,000 $64,800,000 32.80%
12 Pirates $71,500,000 $23,000,000 32.40%
13 Astros $49,000,000 $15,600,000 31.85%
14 Reds $106,000,000 $33,625,000 31.70%
15 Rockies $91,000,000 $26,062,500 28.65%
16 Royals $91,000,000 $25,050,000 27.50%
17 Rays $75,500,000 $20,225,000 26.80%
18 Cardinals $108,500,000 $28,875,000 26.60%
19 Diamondbacks $108,000,000 $28,650,000 26.50%
20 Padres $86,000,000 $21,150,000 24.60%
21 White Sox $89,000,000 $21,750,000 24.50%
22 Nationals $130,500,000 $30,275,000 23.20%
23 Mets $82,000,000 $18,675,000 22.75%
24 Angels $151,000,000 $34,200,000 22.65%
25 Orioles $105,000,000 $22,705,333 21.60%
26 Rangers $131,000,000 $27,000,000 21.10%
27 Indians $80,000,000 $13,200,000 16.50%
28 Athletics $79,000,000 $11,000,000 13.90%
29 Braves $96,000,000 $12,600,000 13.10%
30 Marlins $42,500,000 $3,000,000 7.10%

And in graph form [Note: after the post published, I edited the chart to better reflect the Pirates’ spending on rotation, given the Astros’ payment to the Pirates for $5.5 million in salary for Wandy Rodriguez. The graph does not contain that change.]:

starters_percentage

Even with Ryan Howard‘s bloated contract, and expensive deals with aging veterans Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, the Phillies will still spend close to 50% of their payroll this season on starting pitching. Their recent A.J. Burnett signing pushed that number up significantly, but even so, without Burnett, Philadelphia was heavily committed to the rotation.

On the other end, the Miami Marlins will field four starters at the league minimum and one — Jacob Turner — at only $1 million. The Oakland Athletics will be the only other team to feature four pre-arbitration starting pitchers; the A’s overall spending on starters is higher than the Marlins due to Scott Kazmir‘s $9 million contract. The New York Mets would have been close to the A’s situation if Matt Harvey hadn’t required Tommy John surgery, which pushed the team to add Bartolo Colon on a 2-year/$20 million deal.

Five teams will feature starting rotations with no pre-arbitration pitchers: the Washington Nationals, San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants and Dodgers. With Derek Holland and Matt Harrison still recovering from injuries, the Texas Rangers may start the season with several pre-arbitration starters in their rotation, but the team is still on the hook for six major-league salaries for the rotation.

How much will teams spend on their starting lineup, as a percentage of the overall payroll:

The Dodgers, again, presented tough choices, given their outfield situation. I included Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig in LA’s starting outfield with Andre Ethier coming off the bench. If you think Ethier will start, you’d have the Dodgers with a lower starting lineup number and a higher bench number. As it is, with Ethier coming off the bench, the Dodgers have the most expensive bench in the league this season.

The numbers, in chart form:

Rank Team Projected 2014 OD Payroll Starting Lineup Combined Salary Starting Lineup As % of Payroll
1 Rangers $131,000,000 $84,675,000 64.60%
2 Mets $82,000,000 $52,950,000 64.60%
3 Braves $96,000,000 $61,442,375 64%
4 Indians $80,000,000 $51,075,000 63.80%
5 Orioles $105,000,000 $65,171,667 62.10%
6 Yankees $197,500,000 $117,867,857 59.80%
7 Cardinals $108,500,000 $57,900,000 53.40%
8 Rockies $91,000,000 $48,528,571 53.30%
9 Nationals $130,500,000 $65,616,490 50.50%
10 Brewers $100,500,000 $50,450,000 50.20%
11 Marlins $42,500,000 $21,350,000 50.20%
12 White Sox $89,000,000 $44,542,000 50%
13 Diamondbacks $108,000,000 $52,750,000 48.80%
14 Tigers $161,000,000 $77,925,000 48.40%
15 Athletics $79,000,000 $38,150,000 48.30%
16 Angels $151,000,000 $72,125,000 47.80%
17 Blue Jays $136,000,000 $65,000,000 47.80%
18 Pirates $71,500,000 $33,425,333 46.70%
19 Mariners $87,500,000 $39,957,500 45.70%
20 Twins $82,500,000 $37,600,000 45.60%
21 Dodgers $223,000,000 $100,970,000 45.30%
22 Rays $75,500,000 $33,995,000 45%
23 Red Sox $155,000,000 $67,375,000 43.50%
24 Giants $147,000,000 $61,837,778 42.10%
25 Padres $86,000,000 $36,225,000 42.10%
26 Reds $106,000,000 $43,541,667 41.10%
27 Phillies $175,500,000 $70,450,000 40.25%
28 Royals $91,000,000 $30,300,000 33.30%
29 Astros $49,000,000 $14,737,000 30%
30 Cubs $89,000,000 $18,892,857 21.20%

And in graph form:

starting_lineup_percentage

Look at the outliers. The Cubs will spend just more than 20% of their payroll on their starting lineup. Right fielder Nate Schierholtz — who was a platoon player on the Giants — will be the second-highest paid position player with a salary of $5 million. On the Astros, pitcher Scott Feldman‘s $12 million salary is nearly a quarter of the payroll, which pushes down the percentage spent offensive players.

What about the DH? American League teams have nine players in their starting lineups; National League teams have only eight. You’d expect — or at least I expected — to see more AL teams at the top of the rankings. But of the top 15 teams in spending on starting lineups, eight are NL teams.

How much will teams spend on their bullpen, as a percentage of the overall payroll:

Every team has an active bullpen competition in spring training, so my Opening Day roster picks are likely to be off for a number of teams. But that shouldn’t change the payroll percentage numbers too much, as most of the guys fighting for the last few bullpen spots are likely to be pre-arb or otherwise inexpensive players.

The numbers, in chart form:

Rank Team Projected 2014 Opening Day Payroll Bullpen Combined Salary Bullpen As % Payroll
1 Rays $75,500,000 $17,669,750 23.40%
2 Athletics $79,000,000 $17,840,000 22.60%
3 Royals $91,000,000 $18,522,500 20.40%
4 Marlins $42,500,000 $8,450,000 19.90%
5 Padres $86,000,000 $16,600,000 19.30%
6 Nationals $130,500,000 $25,125,000 19.25%
7 Reds $106,000,000 $17,050,000 17%
8 Diamondbacks $108,000,000 $17,975,000 16.60%
9 Rockies $91,000,000 $14,950,000 16.40%
10 Cubs $89,000,000 $14,375,000 16.20%
11 Astros $49,000,000 $7,500,000 15.30%
12 Angels $151,000,000 $22,887,500 15.20%
13 White Sox $89,000,000 $13,350,000 15%
14 Giants $147,000,000 $21,845,000 14.90%
15 Dodgers $223,000,000 $32,900,000 14.75%
16 Twins $82,500,000 $11,435,000 13.90%
17 Pirates $71,500,000 $9,975,000 13.80%
18 Phillies $175,500,000 $24,000,000 13.70%
19 Red Sox $155,000,000 $20,400,000 13.20%
20 Indians $80,000,000 $9,900,000 12.40%
21 Orioles $105,000,000 $12,850,000 12.20%
22 Cardinals $108,500,000 $13,000,000 12%
23 Mariners $87,500,000 $10,250,000 11.80%
24 Braves $96,000,000 $11,240,000 11.70%
25 Tigers $161,000,000 $15,737,500 9.80%
26 Blue Jays $136,000,000 $12,050,000 8.90%
27 Brewers $100,500,000 $8,700,000 8.70%
28 Mets $82,000,000 $6,700,000 8.20%
29 Rangers $131,000,000 $9,000,000 6.90%
30 Yankees $197,500,000 $12,480,000 6.30%

And in graph form:

pen_percentage

The top six teams in this ranking are all small budget teams. And that makes sense, given the rise in relievers’ salaries in the last five years, particularly for “proven closers.” But look at the Nationals. Washington will spend nearly 20% of its payroll on its bullpen, which is an astounding figure for a team with a $130 million payroll.

Even so, the Nationals aren’t even the top spender on their relief corp. That honor goes to the Dodgers, of course, who will spend more on Brian Wilson to set up Kenley Jansen ($10 million), than seven teams will spend on their entire bullpen. And there’s still the matter of Brandon League‘s 3-year/$22.5 million contract, now in its second year. That’s a pretty, pretty expensive low-leverage middle reliever.

How much will teams spend on their bench, as a percentage of the overall payroll:

Rank Team Projected 2014 Opening Day Payroll Bench Combined Salary Bench as % of Payroll
1 Marlins $42,500,000 $5,800,000 13.60%
2 White Sox $89,000,000 $9,800,000 11.00%
3 Padres $86,000,000 $9,337,500 10.90%
4 Indians $80,000,000 $6,750,000 8.40%
5 Dodgers $223,000,000 $17,700,000 7.90%
6 Diamondbacks $108,000,000 $8,250,000 7.60%
7 Rays $75,500,000 $5,235,000 7.10%
8 Red Sox $155,000,000 $10,800,000 7.00%
9 Mets $82,000,000 $5,637,500 6.90%
10 Pirates $71,500,000 $4,950,000 6.90%
11 Rockies $91,000,000 $6,100,000 6.70%
12 Athletics $79,000,000 $4,895,000 6.20%
13 Reds $106,000,000 $6,360,000 6.00%
14 Astros $49,000,000 $2,800,000 5.70%
15 Cardinals $108,500,000 $6,040,000 5.60%
16 Nationals $130,500,000 $7,200,000 5.50%
17 Cubs $89,000,000 $4,900,000 5.50%
18 Mariners $87,500,000 $4,800,000 5.50%
19 Yankees $197,500,000 $9,700,000 4.90%
20 Braves $96,000,000 $4,590,000 4.80%
21 Tigers $161,000,000 $7,500,000 4.70%
22 Blue Jays $136,000,000 $5,250,000 3.90%
23 Giants $147,000,000 $5,415,000 3.70%
24 Royals $91,000,000 $2,955,000 3.20%
25 Rangers $131,000,000 $3,500,000 2.70%
26 Phillies $175,500,000 $4,612,500 2.60%
27 Brewers $100,500,000 $2,500,000 2.50%
28 Twins $82,500,000 $2,000,000 2.40%
29 Orioles $105,000,000 $2,350,000 2.20%
30 Angels $151,000,000 $2,000,000 1.30%

And in graph form:

bench_players_percentage

I’ve searched and searched for a pattern to emerge with these bench payroll numbers, and I don’t see much. On average, teams will spend just under $6 million on their bench, so the Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers and Nationals — among the big spending teams — and the White Sox, Indians, Padres and Diamondbacks — among the low spending teams — are on the high end. Again, I expected to see bigger numbers from NL teams because they have a five-man bench, while AL teams have only four, with the DH taking up the extra spot in the starting lineup. But that didn’t show itself in the actual numbers.

Putting all the numbers together in one chart:

The moment you’ve all been waiting for. No? I guess you’re not as much of a numbers geek as I am.

We return to the chart ranking the projected Opening Day payrolls, and give you the percentages for rotation, starting lineup, bullpen and bench. Before you start hollering in the comments, some of the percentages will add up to more than 100%. From what I can see, that’s largely the result of using rounded numbers and then adding those rounded numbers together. Obviously, if I made an egregious mistake, tell me in the comments. But save yourself the energy on “Minor nitpick but the Yankees’ numbers add up to 102%.”

Rank Team Projected 2014 Payroll Rotation as % of Payroll Starting Lineup as % of Payroll Bullpen as % Payroll Bench as % of Payroll
1 Dodgers $223,000,000 34.7% 45.3% 14.8% 7.9%
2 Yankees $197,500,000 32.8% 59.8% 6.3% 4.9%
3 Phillies $175,500,000 46.1% 40.3% 13.7% 2.6%
4 Tigers $161,000,000 37.5% 48.4% 9.8% 4.7%
5 Red Sox $155,000,000 33.3% 43.5% 13.2% 7.0%
6 Angels $151,000,000 22.7% 47.8% 15.2% 1.3%
7 Giants $147,000,000 39.3% 42.1% 14.9% 3.7%
8 Blue Jays $136,000,000 32.9% 47.8% 8.9% 3.9%
9 Rangers $131,000,000 21.1% 64.6% 6.9% 2.7%
10 Nationals $130,500,000 23.2% 50.5% 19.3% 5.5%
11 Cardinals $108,500,000 26.6% 53.4% 12.0% 5.6%
12 Diamondbacks $108,000,000 26.5% 48.8% 16.6% 7.6%
13 Reds $106,000,000 31.7% 41.1% 17.0% 6.0%
14 Orioles $105,000,000 21.6% 62.1% 12.2% 2.2%
15 Brewers $100,500,000 38.6% 50.2% 8.7% 2.5%
16 Braves $96,000,000 13.1% 64.0% 11.7% 4.8%
17 Rockies $91,000,000 28.7% 53.3% 20.4% 6.7%
18 Royals $91,000,000 27.5% 33.3% 16.4% 3.2%
19 Cubs $89,000,000 32.9% 21.2% 16.2% 5.5%
20 White Sox $89,000,000 24.5% 50% 15.0% 11%
21 Mariners $87,500,000 36.4% 45.7% 11.8% 5.5%
22 Padres $86,000,000 24.6% 42.1% 19.3% 10.9%
23 Twins $82,500,000 38.3% 45.6% 13.9% 2.4%
24 Mets $82,000,000 22.8% 64.6% 8.2% 6.9%
25 Indians $80,000,000 16.5% 63.8% 12.4% 8.4%
26 Athletics $79,000,000 13.9% 48.3% 22.6% 6.2%
27 Rays $75,500,000 26.8% 45.0% 23.4% 7.1%
28 Pirates $71,500,000 32.4% 46.7% 13.8% 6.9%
29 Astros $49,000,000 31.9% 30.0% 15.3% 5.7%
30 Marlins $42,500,000 7.1% 50.2% 19.9% 13.6%

*********

Two postscripts:

A big, big thank you to my colleague Bill Petti for the graphs. Yes, a writer at FanGraphs is graphically-challenged.

Several readers left good comments on Part One with suggestions of other ways to break down the salary numbers. Please leave your suggestions below. I will review the suggestions and write a follow-up post with additional analysis.




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Wendy writes about sports and the business of sports. She's been published most recently by Vice Sports, Deadspin and NewYorker.com. You can find her work at wendythurm.pressfolios.com and follow her on Twitter @hangingsliders.


41 Responses to “2014 Payroll Allocation, By Position”

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  1. Danny says:

    Dogers spending $18M on their bench…

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  2. Joe says:

    Not trying to nitpick, but I’m assuming that teams where the total is less than 100% is due to obligations to released players? So with the Cardinals for example, they only add up to 97.6%, so I’m guessing that’s just Ty Wigginton’s 2.5 million?

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  3. jrogers says:

    Some confusion with the Chicago teams… I’m seeing the Cubs add up to about 110% and the White Sox to only 65% (larger than nitpick levels). And seems like they have switched some numbers between the individual position tables and the summary one at the bottom?

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    • Randy says:

      Cubs are still paying I think $14m of what’s owed to Soriano with the other $5m covered by the Yanks – that’s most of it. Check out Cot’s Contracts for the Sox.

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    • Wendy Thurm says:

      I fixed the final chart for Cubs and White Sox numbers. Some were transposed. The Cubs add up to only 75% because of the $14 million still being paid to Alfonso Soriano.

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  4. Braves says:

    The Braves doesn’t add up to 100% either, only 93.6%

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  5. Will Sisco says:

    The graph of the cubs starters say 20% and in the final chart it says 50%.

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  6. rusty says:

    Would be interesting to compare these %s to the projected WAR from each team segment — as a Rockies fan, they’re spending a lot on hitting relative to its expected effectiveness.

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  7. jg941 says:

    You’re still publishing the data and charts without adjusting for the actual payroll commitments these teams are making to certain players, such as the Wandy Rodriguez example. The differences are real and leading to very misleading conclusions, particularly on the charts.

    Others tend to report out on some of your stuff (and other stuff here at Fangraphs), so it’s very misleading to continue to reflect a team with certain well-known payroll tendencies like the Pirates as spending among the highest percentages on either their pitching rotation or an individual player. Seems like a simple fix could be made before publishing.

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  8. Orange says:

    Prior to Jaime Garcia’s injury this was the case, but the Cardinals will almost certainly employ 4 pre-arb starting pitchers to begin the year: Lynn, Miller, Wacha and either Kelly or Martinez. Obviously they are still on the hook for Garcia’s salary, so the numbers aren’t off.

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  9. RMD says:

    Bullpens only accounted for ~9.3% of total WAR, despite teams allotting ~15% of the average payroll (including the two smartest teams spending over 20%)

    It’s time to change the WAR formula for relievers. They systematically have lowers BABIPs and only maintain their positions by succeeding in high leverage situations. If the smartest teams are spending the most money on what would be the most “replaceable commodity.” Time for FanGraphs to adjust its formula.

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bip says:

      Maybe, maybe not. I do agree that ideally WAR will include some bonus/penalty for BABIP for pitchers, though we haven’t figured out how much to include it.

      One issue with relievers is this: relievers necessarily pitch in small samples, so large BABIP variation is expected with them. Since their job is so high leverage, any bad BABIP variation can result in them losing playing time very quickly. So they are very susceptible to random variation and to selection bias.

      The main disconnect between WAR and actual reliever value is because of their average leverage. On the one hand, we don’t generally give players credit for their situation, and for good reason. If Craig Kimbrel was stuck pitching only the 7th inning, it doesn’t make him a worse player, and it shouldn’t make him less desirable to other teams. On the other hand, when we’re talking about value added, high-leverage relievers definitely contribute more to a team’s winning percentage than context-neutral stats suggest.

      I think it does make sense to give relievers some of the credit for this. Using your best run-preventer in the most critical situations is actually the optimal strategy. Therefore, it makes sense to have a pitcher that sacrifices the ability to throw more than 80 innings a season in return for the ability to pitch consecutive days at an extremely effective rate. Of course Kimbrel would be more valuable if he could throw 180 innings with a 1.50 FIP, but if he became a starter, they would still need a closer.

      The last thing to consider is how replaceable relievers are. If the Braves lost Kimbrel, would it be as hard to replace him with an effective closer as it would to replace their ace if they lost him? How well can a standard AAA guy come in and prevent runs out of the bullpen? It seems there are more of those guys than there are guys who can pitch 180 acceptable innings.

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  10. Matt says:

    Love this series of posts. If you find the time, I’d love to see comparisons of playoff teams (in particular, WS winners) over the past several years compared by their percentage spent on each position. Might be some interesting insights there.

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  11. Iron says:

    Marlins bench makes twice as much and bullpen nearly three times as much as their starting rotation. That is freaking bizarre.

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  12. The Foils says:

    You and Grant should start a Dodger blog.

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  13. Roger says:

    The Braves spend less than 25% of their payroll on pitching. Manufacturing it has that benefit.

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  14. Slam Hound says:

    The Marlins’ percentages only add up to 90.8%. Did they also have significant turnover that reflects the discrepancy?

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  15. pinch says:

    But save yourself the energy on “Minor nitpick but the Yankees’ numbers add up to 102%.”

    I literally thought this was Wendy editing the article after someone had commented. I feel like I read that at the top of every single section.

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  16. Yehuda Hamer says:

    Wendy. Thank you for making and taking the time to do this. I really enjoyed this article.

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  17. Andrew says:

    Interesting potential contrast here. Typically the sabermetric community is adverse to spending big money on bullpen arms. At the same time, the Rays and As are usually thrown out as the most sabermetrics-friendly teams, and they’re well in front in terms of percentage of their payroll they spend on bullpens – though neither has the big-money closer.

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    • Baltar says:

      In the Rays case, this result of paying such a high percentage for the bullpen was probably not intended. What the Rays really wanted in the 3-team trade was Hanigan. They probably had to take Bell (salary relief to the Padres) to get Hanigan.
      They probably also had no intention of taking on another high-salary reliever but couldn’t pass up the bargain of Belfour after the Orioles rejected him for specious medical reasons.
      They also probably began the offseason with the expectation of not keeping Price. Apparently, they almost completed a deal with the Mariners which included Franklin, when Hellickson came up with an injury.
      With the good team they had accumulated except for now having only 3 reliable starters to start the season, they decided they had to keep Price. Hence, the high payroll for the rotation.

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  18. Josh says:

    Hi Wendy, would it be possible for you to share the data for this? I’m taking a course in data visualization and I’d love to mess around with this data without having to scrape it all first. Thanks!

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  19. Chickensoup says:

    The Brewers bench should be higher as they have $11 million tied to Weeks, the likely opening day backup. It may end up different because Gennett is likely not as good as last year, but it changes pretty much every number of theirs

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  20. Water47 says:

    Do the salary calculations include deferred salaries. I believe the Nationals pay Soriano at a reduced rate for the last two years as some of the money is deferred. How are you dealing with that?

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  21. Greg says:

    Blue Jays also sum to much less than 100%. I’m guessing a lot of that is Ricky Romero’s contract. If so, shouldn’t he be included in with the starters, at least for salary purposes?

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  22. Lyle says:

    Wendy, the last chart was, indeed, the one I was waiting for. I wonder if giving the rankings, as well as the actual $ amounts, in the last four columns might have added something to the discussion and/or analysis?

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