BA Newsletter: Get Analysis, Rankings Delivered To Your Inbox!

Teams Continue Shedding Costs—With More Likely Ahead

Kolten Wong Robleitergetty

As the offseason begins, the ugly financial picture across Major League Baseball is starting to come into focus.

Teams are aggressively cutting costs following a shortened 60-game season where no fans were allowed in the stands due to the coronavirus pandemic. Commissioner Rob Manfred has said that gate-related income—including tickets, concessions, parking and other attendance-related expenditures—accounts for 40% of revenue and told the website Sportico during the World Series that MLB’s 30 teams sustained a combined $2.8 to $3 billion in operational losses this year.

While those numbers cannot be independently verified, teams' collective cost-cutting measures have already reached the hundreds of millions of dollars—with more likely ahead.

First, the draft. Teams spent a combined $316,560,984 on signing bonuses in the 2019 draft. By cutting the draft to five rounds in 2020, teams spent $238,092,829 on signing bonuses, a savings of just under $78.5 million.

(Additionally, teams only paid up to $100,000 of each draftee's signing bonus this year, with the rest deferred to payments in equal installments in 2021 and 2022. That means teams paid out a maximum of $15,433,500 in signing bonuses to drafted players this year—149 players received signing bonuses of $100,000 or more, while the remaining 11 players who got less than $100,000 received bonuses totaling $533,500.).

Second, international signings. MLB pushed the start of the international signing period back from July 2, 2020 to Jan. 15, 2021. International bonus pools totaled $165,230,100 for the current period, spending that clubs were able to push back entirely into 2021.

Third, player options. Clubs declined 41 team or mutual options while picking up only nine through Nov. 5, according to team announcements and media reports. The total value of the options declined was $361.65 million, minus $54.575 million in buyouts. (The total value of the options picked up was $50.75 million). While many of those options would have been declined under normal circumstances, a few stood out as particularly notable, including Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong, Indians closer Brad Hand and Rays starter Charlie Morton.

And fourth, team employees. The Cubs and Athletics each laid off more than 100 employees in recent weeks, including scouts, minor league coaches and coordinators and/or other baseball operations personnel. Other teams announcing staff reductions due to the pandemic in the last six weeks include the Astros, Braves, Cardinals, Giants, Indians, Nationals, Orioles, Padres, Phillies and Red Sox, all of which followed a summer of widespread furloughs and layoffs throughout the sport.

More cost-cutting is likely ahead. The non-tender deadline is Dec. 2 and both front office officials and agents alike expect a sharp uptick in the number of players who aren’t tendered a contract. It remains to be seen how proactive teams will be in free agency, which began Nov. 1, but the widespread expectation is all but the very top free agents will be forced to take well-below market deals—if they receive any offers at all.

To get a sense of what teams have shed so far, below is a look at each team’s draft savings compared to 2019, as well as the value of the options they declined. Keep in mind, these numbers are just a starting point—there is no way to verify how much additional money each team shed through employee pay cuts, furloughs, layoffs or non-renewal of contracts. With the non-tender deadline still ahead and teams continually seeking to pare down expenses, these numbers are likely to grow.

All draft signing bonus information is from Baseball America’s draft database. All contract information is from Baseball-Reference.com. Signing bonuses for nondrafted free agents are not included due to the incomplete nature of bonus information available for them.

Note that some draft savings, particularly for the Astros, Braves, D-backs and Yankees, is a product of having fewer top picks this year. Four teams—the Cardinals, Marines, Rockies and Tigers—spent more in a five-round draft in 2020 than they did in a 40-round draft in 2019, largely because they had more, or higher, early-round picks.

Players with mutual options who had teams decline their half of the option are marked with an asterisk (*).

ANGELS

Draft Bonuses

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Angels$9,751,300$6,454,200$3,297,100

Declined Options: None


ASTROS

Draft Bonuses

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Astros$6,462,099$2,283,000$4,179,099

Exercised Options: LHP Brooks Raley, $2 million

Declined Options: None


ATHLETICS

Draft Bonuses

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Athletics$6,696,900$5,447,400$1,249,500

Declined Options: None


BLUE JAYS

Draft Bonuses

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Blue Jays$10,677,000$10,202,325$474,675

Exercised Options: RHP Rafael Dolis, $1.5 million

Declined Options: RHP Chase Anderson, $9.5 million ($500,000 buyout)


BRAVES

Draft Bonuses

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Braves$14,338,000$3,991,800$10,346,200

Declined Options: RHP Darren O’Day, $3.5 million ($500,000 buyout)


BREWERS

Draft Bonuses

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Brewers$6,908,200$5,417,900$1,490,300

Declined Options: *OF Ryan Braun, $15 million ($4 million buyout); INF Jedd Gyorko, $4.5 million ($1 million buyout); INF Eric Sogard, $4.5 million ($500,000 buyout); OF Ben Gamel, $2.55 million

Total: $26.55 million ($5.5 million in buyouts)



CARDINALS

Draft Bonuses

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Cardinals$8,205,000$8,290,000$(85,000)

Declined Options: 2B Kolten Wong, $12.5 million ($1 million buyout)


CUBS

Draft Bonuses

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Cubs$6,987,900$5,966,800$1,021,100

Exercised Options: 1B Anthony Rizzo, $16.5 million

Declined Options: LHP Jon Lester, $25 million ($10 million buyout); 2B Daniel Descalso, $3.5 million ($1 million buyout)

Total: $28.5 million ($11 million in buyouts)


D-BACKS

Draft Bonuses

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
D-backs$17,045,500$7,184,900$9,860,600

Exercised Options: RHP Merrill Kelly, $4.25 million

Declined Options: RHP Mike Leake $18 million ($5 million buyout); RHP Hector Rondon $4 million ($500,000 buyout); RHP Junior Guerra $3.5 million ($100,000 buyout)

Total: $25.5 million ($5.6 million in buyouts)


DODGERS

Draft Bonuses

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Dodgers$10,536,800$6,224,000$4,312,800

Declined Options: RHP Jimmy Nelson $2 million ($500,000 buyout)



GIANTS

Draft Bonuses

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Giants$10,384,500$9,457,500$927,000

Declined Options: None


INDIANS

Draft Bonuses

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Indians$8,010,505$7,390,000$620,505

Exercised Options: C Roberto Perez, $5.5 million

Declined Options: 1B Carlos Santana, $17.5 million ($500,000); LHP Brad Hand, $10 million ($1 million); OF Domingo Santana, $5 million ($250,000)

Total: $32.5 million ($1.75 million in buyouts)


MARINERS

Draft Bonuses

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Mariners$8,927,500$9,961,100$(1,033,600)

Declined Options: 2B/OF Dee Strange-Gordon $14 million ($1 million); RHP Kendall Graveman $3.5 million

Total: $17.5 million ($1 million in buyouts)

Note: Graveman re-signed for $1.25 million with incentives.


MARLINS

Draft Bonuses

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Marlins$14,832,700$12,047,000$2,785,700

Exercised Options: OF Starling Marte, $12.5 million

Declined Options: RHP Brandon Kintzler $4 million ($225,000 buyout)


METS

Draft Bonuses

Team2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Mets$9,497,000$7,499,000$1,998,000

Declined Options: C Wilson Ramos, $10 million ($1.5 million buyout); C Robinson Chirinos, $6 million ($1 million buyout); 3B/1B Todd Frazier, $5.75 million ($1.5 million buyout)

Total: $21.75 million ($4 million in buyouts)


Rays Photo By Harry How Getty Images

With ALCS Win, Rays Shift Balance Of Power In The American League

The Rays avoided becoming the second team in major league history to blow a 3-0 series lead.

NATIONALS

Draft Bonuses

Team2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Nationals$7,683,580$6,647,000$1,036,580

Declined Options: RHP Anibal Sanchez, $12 million ($2.5 million buyout); OF Adam Eaton, $10.5 million ($1.5 million buyout); INF Howie Kendrick, $6.5 million ($2.25 million buyout); 1B Eric Thames, $4 million ($1 million buyout)

Total: $33 million ($7.25 million in buyouts)


ORIOLES

Draft Bonuses

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Orioles$15,168,600$13,672,300$1,496,300

Exercised Options: SS Jose Iglesias, $3.5 million

Declined Options: None


PADRES

Team2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Padres$13,010,900$11,108,004$1,902,896

Declined Options: 1B/DH Mitch Moreland, $3 million ($500,000 buyout)


PIRATES

Draft Bonuses

Team2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Pirates$12,111,400$11,067,400$1,044,000

Declined Options: RHP Chris Archer, $11 million ($250,000 buyout)


PHILLIES

Draft Bonuses

Team2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Phillies$8,779,800$5,700,000$3,079,800

Declined Options: RHP David Robertson, $12 million ($2 million buyout); RHP Hector Neris, $7 million; RHP David Phelps, $4.5 million ($250,000 buyout)

Total: $23.5 million ($2.25 million in buyouts)


RANGERS

Draft Bonuses

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Rangers$12,858,300$7,275,000$5,583,300

Declined Options: RHP Corey Kluber, $18 million ($1 million)


RAYS

Draft Bonuses

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Rays$11,685,800$7,474,200$4,211,600

Declined Options: RHP Charlie Morton, $15 million; C Mike Zunino, $4.5 million

Total: $19.5 million


REDS

Draft Bonuses

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Reds$11,273,400$8,546,000$2,727,400

Declined Options: None


RED SOX

Draft Bonuses

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Red Sox$6,369,200$5,250,000$1,119,200

Declined Options: LHP Martin Perez, $6.85 million ($500,000 buyout)


ROCKIES

Draft Bonuses

Team2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Rockies$8,072,800$10,332,800$(2,260,000)

Declined Options: 1B Daniel Murphy, $12 million ($6 million)


ROYALS

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Royals$14,452,200$12,520,000$1,932,200

Declined Options: None


TIGERS

Draft Bonuses

Team2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Tigers$11,908,800$13,978,600$(2,069,800)

Declined Options: None


TWINS

Team2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Twins$10,892,800$4,330,000$6,562,800

Declined Options: RHP Sergio Romo, $5 million ($250,000 buyout)


WHITE SOX

Draft Bonuses

Team2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
White Sox$13,633,200$7,757,000$5,876,200

Exercised Options: INF Leury Garcia, $3.5 million

Declined Options: DH Edwin Encarnacion, $12 million; LHP Gio Gonzalez, $7 million ($500,000)

Total: $19 million ($500,000 in buyouts)



YANKEES

Draft Bonuses

Team 2019 Draft Bonuses 2020 Draft BonusesSavings
Yankees$9,327,300$3,678,400$5,648,900

Exercised Options: LHP Zack Britton, $14 million

Declined Options: LHP J.A. Happ, $17 million; OF Brett Gardner, $10 million ($2.5 million buyout)

Total: $27 million ($2.5 million in buyouts)

Are you a member?

In order to access this exclusive content you must have a Baseball America Account. 

Login or sign up  


Additionally, you can subscribe to Baseball America's newsletter and receive all of our rankings, analysis, prospect insight & more delivered to your inbox every day. Click here to get started. 

of Free Stories Remaining