We all know the Mets have dropped out of the list of high payroll teams. The Phillies are not expected to go any higher than their projected $163 million for 2012 and beyond. They are still expected to sign Cole Hamels to an extension but it is going to come at the expense of another player or two.
The point is, even though the big market teams were not in the market for the top free agents this year, they still signed and got paid very well. Albert Pujols signed with the Angels, Yu Darvish got over $100 million from the Rangers and Prince Fielder got a 9 year, $214 million deal from the Tigers. This offseason is highlighted by the spending of the Miami Marlins, who have added Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell- and may still sign Yoennis Cespedes. A lot of money has been thrown around and very little has been spent by the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies, a sign that star players don't need those teams to get the big contract.
In case you are wondering, of course the Yankees still own the league's highest payroll at $194.3 million. They have 18 players under contract, so it is estimated to move up to slightly over $200 million before opening day. The Phillies currently sit at 2nd with $147 million committed to 18 players, estimating slightly under $163 million for the start of the season. The Angels are next at $146.5 with 18 players, expecting to be slightly under $160 million to start the season. The Red Sox, who may still be in the market to add Roy Oswalt, are currently at $129.4 million for 20 players, expecting to be slightly over $141 million without adding Oswalt. And now with the Fielder deal, the Tigers will be at $126.3 million for 17 players, putting them at about $135 million to start the season.
And looking at the past, teams like the Giants (Barry Zito), Dodgers (Kevin Brown), Rockies (Mike Hampton) and Cubs (Alfonso Soriano) have made contract offers worth a lot more than the so called "large market" teams. Even the Minnesota Twins committed a lot of money to their franchise players Justin Mourneau and Joe Mauer. So, with the top paying teams on a budget, other teams are starting to catch up. And the more time that goes by, the more team's payrolls are going to get closer to each other. Unfortunately, some teams are never going to spend at any point. But, during the next couple of years, I predict more teams will be in the upper class of player's salary.