Mar 31, 2022 - Sports

MLB's spend and spend-nots

Data: spotrac; Table: Axios Visuals
Data: spotrac; Table: Axios Visuals

The MLB season begins a week from today, and rosters have largely taken shape after three frenzied weeks of post-lockout deals.

By the numbers: Teams committed over $3.2 billion to free agents this offseason, 36% more than the previous record. But the gap between the haves and have-nots — or spend and spend-nots — that dominated the lockout narrative still remains.

  • A record 11 free agents signed nine-figure deals, which represented more than half the money that was doled out ($1.7 billion).
  • Wild stat: Max Scherzer's contract with the Mets will pay him a record $43.3 million annually. That's more than the Orioles, Guardians, Pirates and A's are currently set to spend on their entire rosters.

What they're saying: "Embarrassed for your fan base ... be better," tweeted Giants OF Joc Pederson alongside a screenshot of MLB's lowest payrolls. "If you can't, sell [your] team to somebody that wants to ... compete."

State of play: The root of what the union wanted during the lockout was for owners to field competitive ball clubs. Some teams are still in tank mode, but at least a handful took promising steps toward contention.

  • The Rockies, Rangers and Tigers all made moves in hopes of ending their combined 15-year playoff drought, handing out eight contracts worth $10+ million, including four of the six biggest deals.
  • The Mariners came within two games of ending their now-20-year playoff drought last season. They gave reigning AL Cy Young Robbie Ray five years and $115 million to help put them over the edge.
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