Money can’t buy championships? Uh, actually…

A new baseball season brings hope to all fans, but mostly those of the highest-spending teams.

The first few games of the MLB season are now in the books, and hope springs eternal for your favorite baseball team (unless you’re a fan of the Colorado Rockies, already facing 0.0% odds of making the playoffs).

payroll between different baseball teams

But everyone outside of Denver may want to calibrate their title hopes on where their team’s opening day payroll ranks among MLB teams — since 1995, 26 of the 29 World Series-winning teams have come from the upper half of the list, per Baseball America.

  • Over that span, only one team from the league’s bottom 10 has won it all (the 2003 Florida Marlins).

How does that sound to you?

That fact sounds pretty promising if you’re a Los Angeles Dodgers fan. The team outspent everyone this offseason, committing ~$1.1B to a class of free agents led by Shohei Ohtani, the $700m man/modern-day Babe Ruth.

  • Ohtani’s compatriot Yoshinobu Yamamoto also landed on the Dodgers, but with a comparatively chilly $325m contract.

On the flip side, the spend-to-win reality sounds miserable if you’re a fan of the bargain-basement Oakland A’s, by far the lowest-spending team in the majors.

  • If you piled the A’s current 26-man roster on each other’s shoulders to create one megatall ballplayer with 26 salaries, he still wouldn’t make the top-10 list of the league’s highest-paid players.

At least Oakland fans are already conditioned for misery, given their beloved franchise is set to decamp for a $1.5B ballpark in Las Vegas in 2028. But hey, at least ticket prices in Oakland will be super cheap all summer?

Now, how about the players?

Forbes expects eight players to clear $40m+ this season, including the two aforementioned Japanese stars, New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, and 3x league MVP Mike Trout.

The ballplayer walking away with the most cash this season will, of course, be Ohtani. He tops the league in endorsement deals, which brings in $60m+ annually for the international superstar.

That haul makes up for his minimal on-field earnings, which, because Ohtani deferred 97% of his Dodgers salary, will only total $2m.

He’ll be fine, though. You can bet on it.

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