In 2013, Alex Rodriguez will make more money than the entire Houston Astros roster—and he may not play a game.
According to a study conducted by the Associated Press, the New York Yankees’ prolific third baseman will earn Major League Baseball’s top salary for the 13th consecutive season.
Rodriguez’s salary dominance is topped only by his longtime employer. For the 15th straight season, the Yankees will have a higher payroll than any other team in baseball. The March 26th acquisition of outfielder Vernon Wells pushed the organization to an estimated $228 million payroll, jumping ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers to earn the dubious honor.
When Major League Baseball’s opening-day rosters are finalized on Sunday, the Yankees’ payroll is expected to be nearly 10 times that of the Astros, AP reports. Rodriguez’s $29 million salary is enough to singlehandedly surpass the pay of Houston’s entire team, which is expected to measure in at $25 million.
Despite the shocking disparity, Astros manager Bo Porter doesn’t think that money will necessarily equate to success.
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"When we get on the baseball field with whomever the opponent is, they are not sitting there saying: 'Well, their players make more money than us so therefore you're deemed a winner and we're deemed a loser,'" Porter told AP. "Games are won and lost on the baseball field, and it doesn't matter what somebody is paid every two weeks. At the end of the day, that person has to be better than you today."
Rodriguez, who is currently rehabbing after hip surgery, is followed on the earnings list by Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee’s $25 million contract.
The Yankees slugger will earn his massive salary despite reports that he’ll miss a significant part of the 2013 season due to injury—a trend that permeates AP’s list of top earners. Of the league’s top six contracts, Rodriguez, New York Mets pitcher Johan Santana ($24.6 million), and Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira ($23.1 million) will all start the season on the sideline.
Furthermore, between Rodriguez, Teixiera, Wells and starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia ($24.3 million), the Yankees have four of the league’s top six yearly salaries, AP notes.
The Astros aren’t the only MLB team that chose to tighten its belt. The National League’s Miami Marlins, who started the 2012 season with a payroll in excess of $100 million, have cut their 2013 spending down to about $40 million.
According to Commissioner Bud Selig, fluctuating budgets are to be expected, as “every team runs in cycles.”
"You have to understand where you are and not be afraid then to do what you have to do," he told AP. "Outside of building a good farm system, I don't see how you will remain competitive."
In between the league’s two spending poles, the average contract is becoming more expensive. The typical player will earn about $3.67 million this season, up about $200,000 compared to last season.
The Yankees’ loose spending is at least partially to blame for this increase. The organization is set to break its own record for the highest single-season payroll, which is set in 2008. Additionally, they’ll break the $200 million mark for the sixth consecutive season. AP adds that Yankee leadership hopes to have the team under the league’s $189 million luxury tax threshold by 2014.