Forbes: Team values rose 4 percent in the last year

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Forbes has released its annual team valuations report. It estimates that the average Major League Baseball team rose in value 4 percent from last year to $1.85 billion. That’s the smallest annual appreciation since a 2 percent rise in 2010, but the never-ending increase in team value remains pretty astonishing. Forbes’ data shows that the average team value is up 400 percent from a decade ago. An investment in the S&P Index over that time rose less than 2.5 times before dividends.

Forbes, not surprisingly, estimates that the New York Yankees are baseball’s most valuable franchise at $5 billion, up 9 percent over last year and 47 percent more than the No. 2 Los Angeles Dodgers at $3.4 billion. The Boston Red Sox are third at $3.3 billion followed by the Chicago Cubs ($3.2 billion), San Francisco ($3.1 billion), the New York Mets ($2.4 billion), St. Louis ($2.2 billion) and Philadelphia ($2 billion).

Miami was dead last at $980 million, which is actually a drop of $20 million from 2019, when all clubs were valued at at least $1 billion. Also near the bottom were the Royals ($1.025 billion), the Rays ($1.05 billion), the Reds ($1.075 billion), and the Athletics ($1.1 billion).

How accurate are these valuations? Eh, hard to say. MLB and its teams laugh it off, saying that Forbes has no idea what it’s talking about, but then again, Major League teams do not open their books for anyone and to the extent certain clubs have annual reporting requirements like the Atlanta Braves, who offer a tracking stock in the team, the information is only partial. If MLB has issues with Forbes, it’s never put up the goods to actually refute it. Either way, the true driver of team value — franchise sales, which represent what someone is actually willing to pay for a team — are rare enough that it’s hard to extrapolate where things truly are.

Still, Forbes has generally had a good take on the overall trends when it comes to ever-increasing franchise value, so it’s worth noting all of this as a broad gauge.