Jun 01, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; General view of Eutaw Street and the Warehouse at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
One of the regular themes that surrounds the world of the Baltimore Orioles and their fans is some version of the storyline that the O’s and team ownership is cheap. I am generally hesitant to talk and write much on the subject, since it is far from objective. Beyond that, it holds little interest for me as compared to the game itself and the analysis of statistics, etc.
Along the way as well, there are certainly many unknowns about the financial positions of varied team ownerships, along with multiple contributing realities of the market value and sizes of markets for different franchises.
Without a doubt there are larger markets and deeper pockets than Baltimore … places like New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, St. Louis to name a few. And likewise there are a number of smaller markets.
So it would seem reasonable that the Orioles’ payroll would fall somewhere in the middle portion of teams in major league baseball. Probably a number of Orioles fans, given the comments that are frequent about the alleged niggardly spending of team, would expect to find that the O’s are in the bottom third of MLB.
So it is interesting to see varied studies when they come out that place the franchises in order relative to total salaries and payroll. And sure enough, over the past several years, the Orioles rank most frequently in the middle range of the 30 franchises.
According to Baseball Prospectus, the Orioles are currently the 14th-ranked team at about $119 million (although this was before the Ryan Webb trade, which might be enough to drop them to 15th place). The Dodgers are at the top with $275 million, followed by the Yankees at $219 million. The Red Sox take third place with $180 million, with the Nationals ranked sixth and the Blue Jays 10th.
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Here are some Baltimore rankings from previous years:
2014 – 15th
2013 – 16th
2012 – 20th
2011 – 16th
2010 – 21st
Another recent article in MLB Trade Rumors (reporting on data from Cot’s Baseball Contracts) caught my eye because it analyzes future payroll obligations that are on the books for each team. This is extraordinarily interesting relative to the Baltimore Orioles.
As with the aforementioned site, one is able to work with the charts and sort them in various ways. The Baltimore Orioles are on the hook for the third-lowest total of long-term obligations, trailing only Oakland and Houston.
The total for the O’s is $105 million, and they are the only team out of all 30 that has no obligations whatsoever after 2018.
All of this is to say that, though the Orioles are not the wealthiest franchise in baseball, there is open space for opportunity and movement in the coming years. The O’s are not going to be able to sign all of their 10 pending free agents, nor will they want to. But there is space and room to judiciously re-sign some of them while also looking outside the organization for other key possibilities.