The Los Angeles Dodgers open the season with a $253 million payroll, the largest in Major League Baseball and one of only two teams with a payroll over $200 million. However, a closer look shows that the Dodgers will not have $253 million worth of talent taking the field when the season starts and it shows why some teams still have a huge advantage over others.
Of the Dodgers' $253 million in 2016 salaries, only $140 million (55%) is committed to players on the active, 25-man Opening Day roster. That leaves a whopping $113 million in salaries for players on the disabled list, key players in the minors, or former players now playing on other teams.
That $114 million is more than the entire payrolls for 14 teams.
Here is the full breakdown, based on data collected from Spotrac.
The biggest chunk is for players on the disabled list, inlcuding outfielder Andre Ethier ($18.0 million salary), pitcher Brett Anderson ($15.8 million), Brandon McCarthy ($12.5 million), and second baseman Howie Kendrick ($10.0 million). The Dodgers are also paying $23.7 million for players on other teams, including all $8.0 million of the 2016 salary for first baseman Michael Morse, who was traded to the Pirates last season with the Dodgers agreeing to pay most of his remaining salary.
That's a ton of wasted money, and yet the Dodgers are still one of the favorites to win the World Series.
All of this illustrates the true advantage that large-revenue teams have over the rest of baseball. That is, it is not the talent on the field, but the ability to eschew unwanted players and to replace injured players.
Already 15 years and three names later, AT&T Park remains the best place to watch a Major League Baseball game. Between the amazing food, packed-out stands and the glistening bay in right field, San Francisco is lucky to call it home.