Payroll race goes to Yankees again

By Ronald Blum
Associated Press / December 24, 2008
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The Yankees have no equal - in spending, not in winning.

Even before their latest spending spree, the Yankees finished 2008 with a record payroll of $222.5 million, according to figures sent to clubs in recent days by the commissioner's office. The $75 million gap between the Yankees and the next-highest spender, the Red Sox ($147.1 million), was more than the payroll of nine teams.

The Yankees' luxury tax payment - $26,862,702 - was just $141,000 shy of the Marlins' entire payroll, which came to $27,003,450.

Of course, the Yankees had less lofty numbers on the field, where their streak of 13 consecutive playoff appearances ended. New York's payroll in 2007, when it was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the third straight year, was $218.3 million.

The Mets, eliminated on the final day of the regular season for the second straight season, were third at $144.7 million, followed by the Tigers ($136.2 million) and Cubs ($130.5 million).

Seattle, an AL-worst 61-101, was at $120.5 million and the White Sox at $113.6 million.

The World Series champion Phillies were 10th at $112.7 million, and the AL champion Rays were 28th at $51 million. The only teams that spent less than the Rays were the Pirates ($50.8 million) and the Marlins.

Teams spent $2.88 billion on players last season, up from $2.71 million in 2007. MLB estimates revenue at $6.5 billion, an increase from $6.075 billion the previous year.

Payroll figures are for 40-man rosters and include salaries and prorated shares of signing bonuses, earned incentive bonuses, non-cash compensation, buyouts of unexercised options, and cash transactions, such as the $8.16 million the Red Sox paid to cover the remainder of what Manny Ram??rez was owed after he was traded and part of what Edgar Renteria was due.

The luxury tax was assessed using a different payroll method: the average annual values of contracts.

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