Forbes has released its annual team valuation list, along with its team revenue and profitability rankings.
This comes out every April and every April it is worth noting that these figures should be taken with a pretty big grain of salt. At best this is a snapshot, but not much more, because there just isn’t enough data out there for anyone outside of Major League Baseball to know this stuff with the degree to specificity Forbes claims. And, of course, the only people in a position to correct these numbers — the league and the owners themselves — wouldn’t dare reveal what they really make or lose. At the same time, one should also take MLB and owner denials of these numbers with a grain of salt because they all have an interest in not appearing as well-off as they truly are.
With all of that said, the takeaways:
- For the first time ever, every single franchise is worth at least a billion dollars. The New York Yankees are the most valuable team at $4.6 billion. The Marlins the least at just around $1 billion;
- The 30 teams generated a record average operating income of $40 million during the 2018 season, which is 38% more than the previous year;
- Revenue increased 4.8%, to an average of $330 million per team; and
- Player costs, including signing bonuses and benefits, remained flat at $157 million.
Which is to say: baseball is rolling in it. But you knew that already.
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.