MLB Payroll Spending

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Big Amoco Sign
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Re: MLB Payroll Spending

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Fat Strat wrote:Several times in recent weeks I have encountered a discrepancy in payroll numbers reported by tracking websites. In almost every case, the discrepancy in question came between the old standby - Cot's Contracts, which is now over at Baseball Prospectus (find it here) -- and Spotrac (find it here.

While I cut my payroll tracking teeth over at Cot's, I've done some looking around Spotrac and I'm pretty impressed with its layout and ease of use compared to old-school Google doc's database style that Cot's provides. That said, I want to offer a word of caution to posters like me who like to talk payroll and use either of these excellent resources: make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Opening day payrolls (which is what we are essentially discussing now for the 2019 Cardinals) are never close to final payrolls.

So, if you go to Spotrac and compare the Cardinals payroll right now it shows us at about 161M in total payroll. Cot's right now has us at $159M. However, change the database to 2018 at Spotrac and the Cards payroll was $177M -- it looks like we've cut payroll $16M compared to last year. But, if you go to Cot's homepage for the Cards and click on the previous years, you end up with a doc that says the Cards' '18 payroll was $159M. About the same as what we are today.

What gives? Opening day payroll and end of season payroll are totally different numbers. They vary based on player movement during the year -- trades, releases, call ups, bonuses, incentives etc. So, final payroll is always significantly higher then opening day payroll. Cot's has both opening payrolls for every season and final payrolls. Spotrac only has current payroll from current season and final payrolls for previous seasons on their main page. It would not surprise me if there are ways to dig deeper than that on Spotrac, but I didn't look very hard.
Thanks. This helps. I used SportTrac and then used Forbes for high level operating income type numbers.

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