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2019 Payroll Preview: AL East (Part 1 of 6)

In this series, we will look at each MLB team briefly and consider what their budget for the upcoming season will be, and what they might be able to do the rest of this winter in terms of trades and free agency.

Projected Payroll for each team will be evaluated using the team’s average payroll for the last three years and considering the team’s current competitive status. This will also account for how many arbitration players they have this off-season and what those players might have. Payroll data is taken from spotrac.com, and arbitration projections are taken from mlbtraderumors.com.


Baltimore Orioles

Previous 3 Seasons: $151M
Current Payroll Commitments for 2019: $51.2M
Projected Payroll: $100M
Arbitration Projections: Jonathan Villar ($4.4M), Dylan Bundy ($3M), Mychal Givens ($2M)

The Orioles are rebuilding and have very little organizational depth. The $51.2M currently committed is to a total of 4 players (Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, Alex Cobb, and Andrew Cashner) each over 31 years old. They currently have three players in Arbitration totalling a projected $9.4M. That leaves $39.4M to fill the other 18 roster spots. These spots will most likely be filled with entirely with rookies at league minimum salary while the O’s rebuild and load up their farm system. If they actually fill the other 18 spots with league minimum players, they will only spend about $10M of that $39.4, but I suspect they may sign one or two veteran free agents on the cheap.

Off Season Suggestions:
The Orioles are extremely thin at Catcher, 1st Base, and Outfield where they were near the bottom of the league in bWAR at each position.
– Devin Mesoraco, C, 1 year, $1.5M – sign a respectable catcher to teach Chance Cisco
– First Base is occupied by Davis who the O’s pay $21M to this year, and refuse to completely waste the rest of their salary
– Jon Jay, CF, 1 year, $2.5M – Fill out the OF with a serviceable starter
– Aristides Aquino, RF, 2 years, $1.25M – Sign a young OF to learn and develop with the rest of the team


Boston Red Sox

Previous 3 Seasons: $215M
Current Payroll Commitments for 2019: $169.1M
Projected Payroll: $225M
Arbitration Projections: Mookie Betts ($18.7M), Xander Bogaerts ($11.9M), Jackie Bradley Jr. ($7.9M), Eduardo Rodriguez ($4.8M), Brock Holt ($3.4M), Sandy Leon ($2.3M), Matt Barnes ($1.5M), Brandon Workman ($1.4M), Steven Wright ($1.4M), Heath Hembree ($1.2M), Blake Swihart ($1.1M)

The Red Sox are obviously still in contention to defend their World Series and they seem to have found their comfort zone by resigning Nathan Eovaldi and Steve Pearce. The only move they have left is to find a new closer, as it seems more-and-more unlikely that they resign Craig Kimbrel. If the arbitration predictions are correct, they will be sitting at a payroll of $224.7M, meaning they will likely promote from within to find a new closer and bring up a relief prospect.

Off Season Suggestions:
None, stay where you are at and promote from within.


New York Yankees

Previous 3 Years: $203M
Current Payroll Commitments for 2019: $120.8M
Projected Payroll: $200M
Arbitration Projections: Didi Gregorius ($12.4M), Sonny Gray ($9.1M), Dellin Betances ($6.4M), Aaron Hicks ($6.2M), James Paxton ($9M), Luis Severino ($5.1M), Austin Romine ($2M), Tommy Kahnle ($1.5M), Greg Bird ($1.5M)

The Yankees are another team that seems fairly content with their current position in contending for a World Series, however, they do remain in the conversation sign either Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. While I project the Yankees to have a $200M payroll, they have more than enough money to go well over the Luxury Cap, as they have many times. After their arbitration hearings, the Yankees should be sitting around $174M in payroll.

Off Season Suggestions:
– Luis Avilan, RP, 4 years, $20M – Fill out the bullpen to replace the loss of Zach Britton
– Bryce Harper, OF, 8 years, $300M – rotate corner OF and DH with Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge
– Manny Machado, SS/3B, 8 years, $300M – fill the opening at SS while Gregorius is on the DL and move to 3B when he comes back, find a spot for Andujar (probably first base)


Tampa Bay Rays

Previous 3 Years: $69.7M
Current Payroll Commitments for 2019: $13.2M
Projected Payroll: $80M
Arbitration Projections: Mike Zunino ($4.2M), Tommy Pham ($4M), Matt Duffy ($2.6M), Chaz Roe ($1.4M)

The Rays are on the up-and-up. They have made good move this off-season to try and bolster their competitiveness in a division with the mighty Yankees and Red Sox. They still need some help at DH, and maybe another starting pitcher. After Arbitration, the Rays will still have plenty of money to mess with.

Off Season Suggestions:
– Trade for Jose Martinez from STL, he’s the best DH option currently available after Nelson Cruz signed with the Twins with 4 years of control
– Clay Bucholz, SP, 2 years, $4M – Bucholz could be a great veteran leader who can teach a young roster what it is to be a major league ball player


Toronto Blue Jays

Previous 3 Years: $163.4M
Current Payroll Commitments for 2019: $64.7M
Projected Payroll: $130M
Arbitration Projections: Marcus Stroman ($7.2M), Ken Giles ($6.6M), Kevin Pillar ($5.3M), Randall Grichuk ($4.8M), Aaron Sanchez ($3.8M), Devon Travis ($2.4M), Ryan Tepera ($1.7M), Brandon Drury ($1.4M), Joe Biagini ($1M)

The Blue Jays aren’t in a bad position to be competitive in most seasons, however the Yankees and Red Sox are going to dominate the division and the much more ready to compete in 2019. They should be sitting around $100M in payroll after arbitration hearings. They may continue to sit back for a year or two and let the rest of the division come down. They may make a long-term move or two to build for the future, as trade rumors float around Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez.

Off Season Suggestions:
– Trade Marcus Stroman for 2-3 young players preferably pitchers and a catcher. He has fewer years of control than Sanchez and will be very expensive to extend beyond arbitration
– Adam Ottavino, RP, 2 years, $13M – a solid reliever who can teach the young pitchers how to improve their pitches
– Aristides Aquino, RF, 2 years, $1.25M – young outfielder to grow with the organization
– Jose Iglesias, SS, 3 years, $27M – a good infielder who can play multiple positions or start at SS if you want to move Aledmys Diaz to 2B


Next to come:
NL East

Photo Credit: Elite Sports NY

Mick Callahan

I'm a fifth year student in a five-year Electrical Engineering program at RIT in Rochester, NY. Originally from St. Louis, MO. Big Redbirds fan, and a fan of the game as a whole. If you're new to my articles, spoiler alert: I like math. Many of the things I write focus on breaking the game down to the mathematics that explain why and how baseball works the way it does. Yes, I'm a huge nerd.

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