What A New Stadium Means for Payroll
I read here, and in other places like the sfgate.com Drumbeat Blog, opinions on what would happen if the A’s suddenly had a Target Field like infusion of revenue. Opinions vary from “Lew Wolff is cheap and won’t spend anymore” to “The A’s will spend more money than the Angels!” The real answer, they will spend more but won’t be a West Coast version of the Yankees or Red Sox, is much more interesting. While I will never be a GM for any self-respecting MLB franchise, I have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. Which means, I have ideas for what a future A’s roster/dynasty might look like.
First things first, how do we set a projected payroll? First, we have to have an idea of what revenues might look like (thanks ML). Second we have to have an understanding of how revenues impact Major League payrolls. Forbes has an answer:
A few interesting factoids from this table. First, if we are to believe Forbes, only two MLB teams took a loss in order to fund their on the field product this season. Only one of those teams took a “significant” loss. Neither of those teams factored much into the playoff picture. Do you smell what I am cooking? As much as you can’t blame the Yankees for their $200M payroll, you can’t harp on A’s ownership for their smallish payroll. The days of teams spending way more than they have, in order to be competitive, are history. Revenue matters.
The second factoid, that MLB teams spend an average of 55% of their revenue on payroll, sets the stage for what could be. In ML’s piece, he split the difference between Wolff’s number and that of Forbes. Here, I am just gonna run with the numbers provided by Forbes to keep it simple. So, a new stadium should provide, roughly, a 14% increase (that was ML’s number, $149M plus 14% is $170M) for this article we will assume that number is $177M ($155M*1.14). That SWAG number puts the A’s in the neighborhood of the Rangers and their $95M payroll. Heck, if the A’s wanted to “go for it” they could actually have a payroll of $106M and be within the range of Operating Income makers on the Forbes chart ($177*.6).
That gives us a range of $95M to $106M…. Oh, how I salivate. What’s better? As ML pointed out, the A’s have huge payroll flexibility in the coming seasons, if we assume they have this new revenue stream. To keep the core together, the A’s would need to have an $80M payroll in 2013. If they are in limbo, forget about it. If they are in construction… $80M is great… That would give them up to $26M to spend on players in the first year (assuming a 2014 opening). So who could they add?
Assuming the A’s have locked up the new Big Three, Anderson, Cahill and Gonzalez. Max Stassi has taken over for Suzuki and is a second year player. Grant Green is manning Short Stop and in his second year at the big league level. Adrian Cardenas, or Eric Sogard, is Green’s double play partner and relatively cost controlled. Daric Barton, Chris Carter and Michael Taylor are rocking 1B, LF and RF collectively. Bullpen roles are what they are. That leaves the A’s with a definite need for a Center Fielder, a 3B and a couple of starting pitchers.
Zack Grienke anyone? Tim Lincecum anyone? Certainly not both, but would the A’s really need both? The new Big Three, the New Jack Bash Brothers and the developed youngsters make it so that only one would be required.
Or, Ian Krol and Clay Mortenson have developed into a fine back of the rotation. Matt Kemp in center?
The more I think about it, the more I realize the possibilities are infinite. I am just highlighting shock and awe type moves. Silver bullets, if you will. Reality, if Billy Beane’s past is an indication of his future, is that the money would be spread around and the sum of multiple parts would be greater than the any single player. The point is that Wolff could keep payroll right in alignment with what is normal now, add in the new revenue, and we would all be really happy with the result. Here is my wishful glance at a 2014 roster/payroll with a lot of crystal ball gazing (and rose colored performance projecting) mixed in: