Detroit Tigers Payroll — Math Isn’t Hard


By Jeff Moss
December 13, 2013

There is currently a lot of debate around Detroit regarding the following question:

Are the Detroit Tigers cutting payroll?

The answer isn’t difficult to come up with, but because we live in a city where most of the media members are mouth-breathing imbeciles who are worse than Eric the Midget at the multiplication table ….. well there is a lot of conflicting information out there.

Well, I am here to simplify this for you.  The Tigers are slashing their budget.  It’s not debatable.

Now, I am sure some of you who have been taught basic math by the Lynn Hennings and the John Lowes out there are probably saying, “But Jeff, the Tigers budget for 2013 was $148.7 million and 2014 is projected to be $157.5 million, so how can you say that they are cutting?”

So, let me explain this to you dolts.

Yes, the Tigers payroll was close to $149 million last season.  But based on contracts that had been signed prior to the 2013 season ending, that number would have been significantly higher in 2014 if Dave Dombrowski constructed a similar team in 2014.

Why? Well here are a few reasons:

  • Prince Fielder was due for an increase in salary of $1 million.
  • Same for Miguel Cabrera.
  • Torii Hunter’s salary increases $2 million.
  • Anibal Sanchez goes up $7 million.
  • Max Scherzer is going to get an approximate bump of $7 million.
  • Rick Porcello can expect to make an additional $3 million.
  • Doug Fister would have received a raise similar to Porcello.

Right there, for the same players who were on the 2013 roster, you would have had an increase in payroll of $24 million.  The only notable salary reduction is Victor Martinez (for $1 million less than 2013), so if Dombrowski had kept a similar roster to 2013 — and figuring he would have done SOMETHING with the bullpen — the 2014 Tigers would have had a budget approaching $170 to $175 million.

Keep in mind, that’s basically for the same team that lost to the Boston Red Sox in the 2013 ALCS.  And remember, ALL of these contracts were already signed when Shane Victorino hit that Grand Slam off of Jose Veras at Fenway Park.  Or the players were eligible for arbitration and under team control.

It’s not like Dombrowski, the Ilitch Family and their CPA didn’t know that they had made these commitments.   The ink had been dry on all of the above-referenced deals for a long time.

So, are the Tigers entering the 2014 season with a $175 million payroll?  Nope.  According to MLive’s Chris I(di)ott, their budget for Opening Day will be around $158 million.

Yes, Dombrowski has cut about $17 million in salary from the team that failed to win a World Series the past three seasons even though they reached the ALCS every year.

How did he accomplish this? Well, you already know, but let me provide you the basic math.

  • DD dealt Fielder for Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers.  That saved Chris and Marian Ilitch $8 million.  I guess home hospice is expensive.  Even for multibillionaires.
  • He sent Fister to the Nationals for figuratively 30 cents on the dollar.  Literally, that saved Olympia Entertainment approximately $6 million.
  • Jhonny Peralta’s $6 million deal came off the books and he is being replaced by the much cheaper — and less offensively productive — Jose Iglesias.

The signings of Joe Nathan and known trampoline enthusiast Joba Chamberlain result in an increase of approximately $3 million in budget over 2013, so that is how you arrive at the approximate $17 million in savings.



Is this sinking in yet?

And I haven’t even mentioned that fact that every Major League Baseball team will be receiving an additional $26 million this year due to the national television rights deal.

That money isn’t being spent on the field though.  Maybe on adult diapers.  Or on lobbyists to receive public funds for a hockey arena in a bankrupt city that can’t afford to pay for BASIC city services.

So, if you want to look like an idiot, keep spewing the Dombrowski company line that payroll is actually going up in 2014.

It’s a mirage.  And I’d advise you to print this up, stick it in your coat pocket™ (Dave Dombrowksi) and show it to your friends the next time they try to argue that the Tigers aren’t in a cost-cutting mode.

They most definitely are.

And in 2014, it will result in a much worse offense, a lesser starting rotation lacking depth and just about the same damn bullpen.  Which cost the team the World Series last season.

But hey, their overall defense is better and they are faster.

Yep, and it’s just a coincidence that those are the cheapest commodities in all of baseball.

Finally, the Tigers are also saving a substantial amount of money on rookie manager Brad Ausmus, who almost assuredly is earning less than Jim Leyland made.

Of course, when the Ilitch family’s sudden frugality hits the fan, guess who will probably get blamed for this mess? Yep, the new guy in the dugout.

Poor Ausmus.  Oh well, he can always cheer himself up by looking in the mirror.