Alex Wood won his arbitration case against the Reds today. He’ll be paid $9.65 million for 2019. When you add Zach Duke’s $2 million deal to the pile, the Reds payroll number is pretty close to final, pending any new signings. Here’s where it stands:

That’s an increase of about $20 million over last year. But it’s the highest payroll in Reds history only if you ignore inflation. Both the 2014 ($114 million) and 2015 ($115 million) numbers were higher when adjusted for everything being more expensive. Remember this chart from this post about ownership, wealth and money. Also keep in mind the Reds as an organization appreciated in value last year by more than $100 million, again.

Maybe the front office had additional money to spend but deals (Realmuto, for example) didn’t work out. The club might figure, at least for now, they’re finished with upgrades to the starting team, assuming no injuries. They could spend a couple million on a veteran back-up who can play SS or CF, maybe. Nick Senzel, and where he can play, is a pretty large variable in this.

Even though $20 million is a hefty chunk of new cash, it’s still disappointing considering median team payroll in 2018 was $139 million. The Reds remain way, way below that. On the other hand, increasing salary by $40 million in one year might have less bang than raising salary by $40 million over two years. Remember, it’s not the money, it’s being smart about the money.

Still, other things equal, like brains, more money is better than less.

70 Responses

  1. Sliotar

    The well of money must be dry for this off-season.

    Either that, or some real short-sightedness on the part of Reds management going to a hearing with Wood for less than $1 million, IMO.

    Wood is quoted as saying “it’s a business”, being very professional; and maybe it won’t make any difference to him with regards to the Reds and staying beyond 2019.

    However, players talk on record occasionally as regarding going before a judge when nearing free agency as a sign of disrespect from the club.

    For a club that apparently can’t entice high-end free agent SPs, not splitting difference and signing Wood for $9M or so feels petty and more than a little cheap.

    • ToBeDetermined

      It is business. Have you ever gotten a review from your employer and they say they are going to give you so much of a raise or none at all. And you thought well I deserve more. The two of you eventually come to an agreement, sometimes you take what they give you, sometimes they increase the amount. Sometimes you can take on more responsibility and increase the amount (typically incentives).

      But, unless your employer is either egregiously cheap or goes back on promises previously made. You take the raise and go back to your job and work. And they give you a check each payday.

      • Sliotar


        Besides owning my own business, I also evaluate businesses as a consultant for retired hedge fund guys, looking to buy stuff.

        For those guys, I have looked at 2 minor-league baseball teams in the last 18 months (both wildly overvalued compared to their revenues). Easy “Don’t Buys.”

        In every industry, when talent can leave, an employer should evaluate how easy the employee is replaced, and what options the person has, and act accordingly.

        Were the Rockies wrong to give Nolan Arenado a 1 year, $26M contract in his fourth (and final) arbitration year? Or should they have gone to a hearing, to quibble over $1-2 M?

        I know what I have would have done with an established face of the franchise, who I am trying to lock up to a deal before he hits free agency.

        We are never scheduling the hearing and reaching a deal.

      • ToBeDetermined


        “We are never scheduling the hearing and reaching a deal.”

        I’m sorry, I don’t know what that means and how it relates to what you have said. Could you please clarify.

  2. ToBeDetermined

    “But it’s the highest payroll in Reds history only if you ignore inflation.” I appreciate that sentence. My dad bought a brand new Red 1964 Mustang for a little over $2,000. I agree you can’t ignore inflation.

    ” Also keep in mind the Reds as an organization appreciated in value last year by more than $100 million, again.” That has nothing to do with how much money they spend in 2019. Because it’s not cash flow, Yet.

    • Broseph

      It’s still equity. If my house goes from $100k to $300k in value, I can take out a loan of $100k and do a remodel and still recoup that money later, not to mention getting an even higher value after the remodel.

      Not exactly apples to apples, but MLB franchise values are only going up, so if they continually “take a loan” of $40-50M which is below the clubs value increase year over year, they will always end up in the green.

      Regardless, the owners aren’t hurting for money. The issue with us fans is the organization saying “we’re spending more than ever” when reality is they’re not.

      • ToBeDetermined


        Regarding the house analogy. Isn’t that what got the entire world into trouble in 2008 ?

        But, I do appreciate your comment about saying we are spending more than we ever have before when after inflation they are not per Steve.

  3. Brock

    I think they were willing to spend more but it just didn’t happen. There were several reports that they had the biggest offer to JA Happ, but he decided to go to the Yankees instead. Also, they were in on Realmuto but they smartly decided 2 years of him wasn’t worth Senzel, Trammell, or Greene. Plus they were interested in Keuchel but were turned off because of his medicals. When was the last time the Reds were ever interested in one of the top 10 free agents in a given offseason? I’m very encouraged that the front office/ownership, for the first time I can ever remember, really tried and were open to increasing payroll.

    But the rubber will really meet the road next season, when they will have an opportunity to sign some major FA pitchers who will be available.

    • ToBeDetermined

      “When was the last time the Reds were ever interested in one of the top 10 free agents in a given offseason?”
      When they got Marlon Byrd. 🙂

      Actually, that is a great question. I have no idea. Maybe someone can mention a few top notch free agents the Reds have ever brought in.

      • Brock

        Actually Marlon Byrd was a trade, so not even then. But I agree, would be interested to hear the details on when the Reds have ever brought in some top free agents

      • WVRedlegs

        Coco Cordero. But you said top free agents. So maybe Coco the 9th inning heartburn doesn’t count.

      • Brock

        Oh yeah Coco. He was probably the top closer on the market that year, so I would say he qualifies. Thanks

      • ToBeDetermined

        Good one.
        Yes, I agree also, Coco was a legitimate top free agent.
        And that was for the 2008 season.

      • ToBeDetermined


        I’ve been told that you know you can get banned from this site if you even think his name 🙂

      • ToBeDetermined


        Dave Parker. Good one.
        And it looks like he was pretty good for 4 years with the Reds
        #2 in MVP in 1985.

        Then he was traded to As for the 1988 season. The return – Tim Birtsas and Jose Rijo.

        Yep, Michael that was an excellent signing the more I look at it.

    • JayTheRed

      Wonder if saving the money now allows them to go for bigger fish next season, which from what I understand has a pretty good free agent class?

      Sometimes big moves come up at the end of spring training but we will have to wait and see.

  4. Mike Adams

    Steve, your third paragraph “Remember, it’s not about the money, it is being smart about the money” is right on the money.
    I know this is about player payroll but the Reds deserve tribute for spending more for coaches and analysts who seem to hold promise for doing a better job in player development.
    As someone else pointed on the blog recently the cost of good coaches is cheaper than the cost of players.
    Thanks for the update.

  5. Sliotar


    If I was involved with the Rockies, I would not risk an arbitration hearing with Arenado for his final year with the club. Too much risk of hard feelings, IMO, for a such a special talent that Colorado almost certainly could not replace right away.

    I would find a way to reach common ground, even giving in on 50/50, and get him to sign a 1 year deal, which Colorado did for $26 million.

    The arbitration hearing from the team side is, from many accounts, stating before a judge why the player is asking for too much money, and presenting facts to back that up.

    Not a good set-up to then approach the player and agent a few months later, and see about having the player forgo free agency and re-sign with the club.

    • ToBeDetermined

      Do you really think these guys get their feelings hurt when their team is only going to pay them $20 some million?
      Typically, both Teams and the Players want to avoid arbitration because it’s an all or none proposition, either the team has to cough-up a substantial amount more than they had hoped or the player has to accept quite a bit less.
      The arbitration process is very nice for both sides. Neither side plays hard-ball – the player gets a reasonable amount the team gets the services of the player for the year.
      Even though Arenado is in for a 1 year deal for $26 million what do you think that gives Colorado going forward? Do you think he doesn’t see what he can get in free-agency? Does it give them a better chance of signing him in the future “at a discounted price”.
      Just curious what anyone thinks about that ?

      • Soto

        I think the point is more about the arbitration process rather than the result. Each side presents a brief of about 10 pages in length, and attaches about 20-30 Exhibits (the exhibits carry more weight than the brief). Each side is stating why the player deserves less (club) or more than (player) the midpoint between their two proposed salaries. Although teams couch language carefully, especially for an established player like Arenado, the exhibits/oral presentations can leave a player with the feeling that they are not wanted or appreciated.

      • Colorado Red

        The Rockies are optimistic they can sign Nolan for long term.
        I really hope they do. Nolan is the face of the Rockies.

      • ToBeDetermined

        Thanks for the info. I didn’t know how the process worked.

        Still personally, I’m not convinced that a player is going to carry a grudge against the team. I doubt that the brief and exhibits get into personal attacks like we see in politics.

      • ToBeDetermined


        Do you currently live out in the Denver Area ?

      • greenmtred

        I’d guess that Sliotar has a point. The large amount of money is, to someone like Arenado, a given, but he could easily view the team taking him to arbitration as an indication of lack of respect, cheapness, or both.

    • Colt Holt

      You realize the same story is told every time a player and team negotiate an extension or a free agent contract, right?

      Boras: A Rod got $275 million over a decade ago. That’s worth $400 today.
      Team: Eugenio Suarez got $70 last year.

      Obviously extreme on the example, but the point remains the same.

      • ToBeDetermined


        Exactly, You have stated in one sentence what I was kind of getting at over many posts. “Brevity is the soul of wit” or something like that.

        Whether the two sides actually go as far as the arbitration process both sides are negotiating for their respective maximum advantages.

        The teams need to try to minimize costs (just as any business does) so as to satisfy ownership (those that are putting $ on the table) and to have money in order to be able to sign other players (whether currently on the team or free agents). The team only has a finite number of dollars.

    • Thomas Jefferson

      I have agreed with this point in the past (avoid arbitration with a player that you want to sign to a longer-term deal), but the last time I thought it regarding the Reds, it was last year with Eugenio. And then he signed a great long-term deal with the team a short time (a week or two, can’t quite remember the time frame), so it may carry less significance than I thought.

      • ToBeDetermined

        Thomas J.
        Good example. If I can recall there were similar thoughts being expressed last year about Eugenio was not being properly respected by the FO. Neither side publicly seemed to say anything one way or the other.

        But, then the extension comes and Eugenio says he loves it here and wanted to sign long term.

        It’s just really hard to speculate. I will concede that each player is an individual and some may hold a grudge. And if they do they do. But, maybe the FO could hold a grudge too. You know they are human beings too. And they could be like – hey we are paying you millions of $ and your still not satisfied. The FO likewise needs to be professional about this.

        If you remember the Brandon Phillips fiasco when he signed his long term contract (didn’t go to arbitration if I recall). But, then he felt he had been lied to and then Ownership got bent out of shape. It just didn’t go well from then on.

  6. AllTheHype

    Reds payroll progression coming out of a rebuild is consistent with the trajectory or World Series champs Cubs and Astros. No need to spend money just to spend money. Keep the bullets til you need them, like the deadline or next offseason.
    2012 109M (rebuild year)
    2013 106M (rebuild year)
    2014 93M (rebuild year)
    2015 120M (payroll accelerating, 3rd in division)
    2016 171M (World Champs)

    2013 26M (rebuild year)
    2014 50M (rebuild year)
    2015 72M (payroll accelerating, 2nd in division, lost in ALDS)
    2016 97M (payroll accelerating, 3rd in division)
    2017 124M (World Champs)

    2016 89M (rebuild year)
    2017 95M (rebuild year)
    2018 101M (rebuild year)
    2019 122M (payroll accelerating)

    • Steve Mancuso

      Really good info here. I understand the impatience from fans who have waited four years, but I’ve never been able to grasp the people who seem to want the team to jump directly from non-contention to the final status of World Series contender (such that it exists).

      • ToBeDetermined


        Do you know any Millennials ?

      • Optimist

        Agreed, and it will be a very interesting All Star break to trade deadline. Unless they are several games ahead for a playoff spot (doubtful even for the wildcard) they should be freely shedding the one-year deals. All of them are much better stretch rentals than Harvey, barring injuries or complete flops each has solid recent history.

        And, they should be preparing for the bigger deals as well – Iggy, the young starters, the hot AA/AAA prospects.

        If anything, they should lower payroll in the second half, and prepare to extend where possible and trade for salaries in the off season.

        I think they show contention this year, but will prove their expertise in setting up for the 3-5 following years.

      • AllTheHype

        I like your prior article as well, “Two Men”, where you explain the reasoning behind acquiring expiring contracts and the balance between current and future. If you look at payroll numbers only for Cubs and Astros, I’d suspect they struck that balance too, albeit in different ways. Building Championship teams takes some time, and some luck as well. In my opinion, the “luck” factor this year is that Reds need a couple of those promising young pitchers to finally take a leap forward this year.

      • ToBeDetermined

        Thomas J

        Interesting. It’s easy to get go off in the wrong direction at first blush. We really have to look into the details before we can really make a proper comparison.

    • Eric Wormus

      Here is what we have:
      The Astros increased payroll 44% from 2014-2015, increased another 35% from 2015-2016 and increased 28% from 2016-2017.
      The Cubs increased payroll 29% from 2014-2015 and increased another 43% from 2015-2016.
      From 2015-2017, the Astros increased total spending by 72%. From the Cubs nadir in 2014 to 2016, they increased spending by 84%
      The Reds, meanwhile, only increased payroll by 21% over last year. To get to even a 70% increase over 2016, they’d have to get payroll to $151 million next year (that would only be a 24% increase over this year).
      Now, factor in the Reds have almost $50 million coming off the books after this year in Wood/Roark/Scooter/Puig/Kemp. So going into the offseason, they’ll have something like $80 million (including raises/arbitration/etc). Are they really going to spend $70 million in free agency? And what free agent is going to be more valuable than the free agents they have passed on this year (Keuchel/Harper/Machado)? That’s my problem. The Reds “payroll increase” is simply a one year mirage until they prove a willingness to sign some of the big name free agents.

      • Thomas Jefferson

        The Reds’ increases would look a lot higher if they had been able to clear Homer off their books a couple of years ago. The Astros didn’t have a Homer-like contract stuck on their books. Similarly, they did not have a strong asset like Votto on a big contract, either, making their starting baseline lower and making their increases look higher.

      • ToBeDetermined

        Thomas J.
        You’ll have to forgive me, I’m just a rookie on these Reply’s. I put your reply on the wrong area. Look up a few replies

  7. Tom

    The question isn’t how the Reds payroll compares to the mean. It’s a question of how the Reds payroll compares to its market size. Cincinnati is the 35th major sports market in the US. The only MLB market ranked lower (36th) in size is Milwaukee, which is almost identical to the Cincinnati market. Further, the Reds have a serious in market contender for Revenue, something the Cardinals no longer have.

    I’m impressed with how wisely the Reds have spent money this year. This has to be one of the best bang for the buck teams in baseball. Until the MLB economics even out, I think the Red under Dick Williams are being both smart and wise.

    • ToBeDetermined


      Great point, regarding the mean and market size.
      Unless all teams spend exactly the same amount. Some are going to spend more and some are going to spend less.

      Of course things also get kind of muddy with these deferred contracts when your paying money to a player who is no longer on your team.

      I guess the classic example of that is Bobby Bonilla, which the New York Mets agreed to pay him $1,193,248.20 annually on July 1 for 25 years, beginning in 2011. (The 20 cents is a nice touch). Additionally, the Mets are still paying Darryl Strawberry on a deferred contract for like another 20 years or so. And I’m sure there are others the Mets need to pay who no longer work (I mean play for them).

  8. David

    Looking forward to 2020:

    Likely a lot of payroll comes off: Matt Kemp, for one (net about $14 MM)
    Tanner Roark: $10 MM
    Will the Reds try to sign/extend Yasiel Puig? Alex Wood? The money may be there.
    What happens to Hughes and Hernandez (net $4.6 MM) ?

    And the irrepressible Scooter Gennett? Extension? Trade? Big Contract? Does he walk? $9.8 MM
    My sub total (Excluding Puig and Alex Wood) is : $37.8 MM available next year.

    Depending on how this all shakes out, the Reds will likely have MORE money next season to actually sign a top line free agent pitcher, if such a guy is available.
    If they don’t resign Puig, they will likely have a hole in the lineup. Sign another free agent outfielder?
    And my guess is that Nick Senzel plays all over this season, but next season Scooter is gone and Nick is the full time second baseman.

    This season is a test for Williams and Krall. If they have made the team better, more competitive and draw more fans with their moves, then Bob Castellini gives them more leeway next year to do more than this year.

    • andybado

      By my count, the Reds will have a net of ~$55M coming off the books next year when accounting for expiring contracts (Kemp, Wood, Roark, Gennett, Puig, Hernandez, Duke) and contracted salary increases (Suarez, Iglesias, Gray, Barnhart, Hughes) but not the cash coming from the Dodgers this year. They have a handful of guys that will be in arbitration, but no one that jumps out as likely for a huge increase in salary (maybe Peraza, Disco, or Schebler if they have good years?). Regardless, arbitration will eat into the $55M.

      They’ll have a lot of production to replace with Wood, Puig, and Gennett hitting free agency. And they likely won’t be able to replace that production with $30M (the sum of their 2019 salaries) through free agency. Next off season should be another busy one for the Reds.

  9. old-school

    Pat Neshak went off today on the CBA. Verlander and Posney have commented as well.
    Whit Merrifield for the Royals signed a 4 year extension…..with 2022 at 2 million anticipating a strike.

    The Reds are maintaining flexibility and rightly so. Win a World series in 2021- because there is no baseball in 2022.

    • David

      The CBA. Yeah, poor underpaid pro-athletes. They probably want something like the NBA has, with a guaranteed percentage of payroll of the overall team earnings, or profits.
      The NBA maintains the D-League and also likely subsidizes the WNBA, but in no way supports minor league systems to develop players like MLB.

      But still, they want more. Surprisingly, I think if they call a strike, interest in baseball will likely crater.

      • Colorado Red

        The owners are make more then ever.
        The players are the reason there is baseball.
        Pay the players what they are worth.
        Did you boycott movies when the actor make 20 mil?

      • Michael Smith


        I know what a terrible idea for the NBA and its union to have a harmonious relationship.

      • Colt Holt

        @Colorado, was the Harry Potter franchise successful in the box office because of Daniel Radcliffe, or because there was an underlying value in the franchise because of a cult following of fans from the books? Should first time actor Daniel Radcliffe be paid more because he is working with a successful franchise than he should in a similar movie without the franchise name at a fraction of the box office receipts?

      • greenmtred

        I, too, think that interest might crater. Baseball is unlike many businesses, though: The employess are, in a very real sense, the product, and they are not easily replaced. They also have very short careers, generally, and are constantly in jeopardy of a career-ending injury. I don’t blame them for holding owners’ feet to the fire.

      • PhP

        I don’t understand how people take the owners side over the players in these situations. You think old billionaire owners deserve more of the revenue than
        young players who have a limited number of years to make as much money as they can, and who by the way are the entire product and the reason the sport pulls in the revenue it does?

  10. ToBeDetermined

    Colorado Red

    I do if the movie is lousy.

  11. David

    Replying to Colorado Red and Mike Smith above:

    The players association and MLB are welcome to come to any agreement that suits them. More revenue “sharing” with the players is inevitable. The players make the game, and want a bigger slice of the pie.

    Having said that, a work stoppage, or strike, or whatever you want to call it as a negotiating ploy by a group of pro athletes, of which many are literally millionaires, would do a lot to damage viewership of baseball and fan attendance. It is not a smart move by the players association. They may threaten it, but most fans would find it offensive.
    I don’t know if you have ever been associated with a company or union that has had a labor disagreement / strike, but in the end nobody wins. Everybody would be tarnished by it, and the game of baseball would lose a lot of fans.

    A better CBA might include higher minimums for minor leaguers, more for retired players, etc., but I would guess it will be mostly about free agency, arbitration and a few other topics that are near to the hearts and wallets of present players.
    You can decry the owners “greed” and their mismanagement of many of the baseball teams at present, but the players do need organized teams to employ them; ML baseball is not exactly self-organizing.

    • LWBlogger2

      That’s what happened after the 1994 strike that went into the 1995 season. Some fans, especially here in Cincinnati never did come back. Part of the reason that PEDs were so rampant after that time was due to the league turning a blind eye because the HR records and high scoring were renewing/keeping interest in the game.

      Now, the NHL had a lockout to fix their collective bargaining issues and it doesn’t seem to have hurt them too, too much.

      I agree that in a strike or lockout in baseball, nobody wins, especially baseball fans.

  12. ohiojimw

    Reds could make that $150M figure in one fell swoop by adding Machado or Harper. Either would be about Votto’s current age when a 10 year deal ended.

    They would have a 4 year gap after this season to get through until Votto could be gotten off the books (does anyone believe the Reds are going to pay Joey $20M in 2024 versus a $7M buyout? Maybe if the NL has DH by then but only maybe; and, no way otherwise).

    How might the Reds float that 4 years? Move Kemp ASAP. Don’t resign Puig or Scooter. Consider moving Suarez NLT next off season if Machado were signed.

    This would be a true all in move.

    • WVRedlegs

      I might go 8 years on Harper. Ten years if the Reds can get one opt out option in there somewhere, because you know Harper will have 1 or 2 opt outs figured in.
      Tony Wolfe over at Red Reporter had a pretty good reasoned out thought on signing Harper a couple of days ago.

      It could make some sense. But boy oh boy, the howling of discontent by some fans would be immense. It would be a vocal minority, but it would be very vocal. Wah-wah-wah we need a top of rotation starter would be the main cry. They missed on Realmuto, but a lineup with Harper makes this Reds offense insanely good. And it would be affordable, especially after all the $$$ that would come off the books after this season. A prelude would be having to make room in the OF for Harper, or shortly thereafter. Kemp and probably Schebler would have to be moved. Cleveland looks to still be needing some OF help among a few other teams. And Puig would be the CF for 2019.
      If they wanted to make salary room for 2019, Kemp has to be moved. They also could entertain the thoughts of moving Scooter so that Senzel can play 2B, and maybe a pitcher like Roark or DeSclafani.
      With the Reds and Cleveland really matching up for a trade, and with their close proximity in Arizona in spring training, one could think that some on-going communication could be happening behind the scenes this spring.

      • ohiojimw

        Reds positional need probably aligns better with Machado though.

  13. andybado

    The Reds 25 man roster seems pretty tight and heavy on outfielders. Should they waive Kemp to free up a spot?

    As the roster is constructed, I wouldn’t start him very often (with Winker and Puig securely in the corners) and the bench will already include one of Senzel/Schebler(/Gennett) and potentially Connor Joe. Do they really need Kemp too?

    Would you rather have Kemp and give up Connor Joe or Robert Stephenson? Or maybe send Blandino or Schebler to AAA?

    • ohiojimw

      Blandino specifically would be easy enough to hide on the IL (Injured List as it is now called) for a while. However they need a spot for a backup middle infielder.

      Kemp is owed around $21M. The Reds got piece of that from the Dodgers; but, would still be out their own pockets for the remaining balance if they just cut him. More likely they’ll try to trade him and forward some money to help oil the deal along.

    • jreis

      I am actually expecting big things from Kemp this year as a Red. and I know I am in the minority here but I Would rather see him than Winker in left for this year. I was so impressed wit him in the world series last year. he was the only dodger that “had a plan” at the plate. I think he could put up some big numbers this year at gabp if given a chance.

      • JayTheRed

        You know I don’t have a huge problem playing Kemp a few times a week. He did very well with Ward in LA last season. GABP will only help his numbers too.

  14. Matt WI

    In addition to the payroll, we should probably also give the Reds credit for increasing their outlay for coaching and support. Those are some upgrades that don’t get acknowledged in the payroll item line.

  15. Eric Sammons

    “Even though $20 million is a hefty chunk of new cash, it’s still disappointing considering median team payroll in 2018 was $139 million. The Reds remain way, way below that.”

    Note, however, that the Reds ranked 4th to last (only ahead of the A’s, Marlins, and Rays) in revenue in 2017 (last year’s data isn’t available yet, I believe). While it’s true that the value of the franchise has gone up considerably over the past decade, most businesses (rightly) tie spending to revenue, not to overall business value. It would make sense that teams with higher annual revenue will spend more than teams with lower annual income.

    • jreis

      this is such a true statement. I see this 20 million dollars spent as an “investment” to get more people interested in the reds again, hence hopefully increasing revenue for 2020. there is no reason Cincinnati can’t be like the cubs and sell out consistently. I think the reds made some really smart moves and were able to peak fans interest this year without selling off our future!

  16. Private Gripweed

    Like many other readers on this site, I include Redleg Nation as part of my daily routine. I appreciate the analysis, optimism, and criticism of the team when deserved. However, I find these recent articles increasingly populist with an obvious political underpinning. The underlying tone of these articles is not what I have come to expect from this site.

    Steve, neither you, nor I, nor anyone on this site has the slightest clue as to what the Reds’ financials actually look like. Yes, we know player salaries, revenue from ticket sales, and media sales, but as to the actual costs of running the organization, nobody knows. Until you have evidence of the expenses this organization incurs in off-field salaries and wages, taxes, facilities maintenance, travel and lodging expenses, equipment, rentals and leases, utilities, and license fees (should I go on?), I think it would be prudent to temper your criticism. Your recent articles unfortunately confuse the concepts of valuation, cash flow, and net income.

    Using the average of MLB salaries as a benchmark is a poor metric. Outliers such as the Red Sox, Cubs, and Rays significantly impact the “average” of all MLB team salaries. Perhaps comparing the Reds’ salary to other teams with similar market sizes or attendance would shed more light on the issue. For instance, removing the Red Sox and Cubs from 2019 salaries, the average MLB salary drops to ~$116M. Comparing the Reds’ salary to the average of all MLB teams is similar to assessing pitcher performance by wins and losses.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Pretty strong take from someone who doesn’t get the difference between median and average. And I’m not confusing the concept of valuation, cash flow and net income. I wrote a 2000-word post *exactly about* how standard theory of tying spending to cash-flow was nuts with the value of MLB teams growing as fast as it is. I’m basing much of the estimates of the Reds revenue-expenses on the Forbes series that has analyzed teams that way for 30 years. Attendance (and for that matter, market share) fluctuations aren’t much related to MLB revenue streams any longer. “Obvious political underpinning” lol.

      • Private Gripweed

        Pretty strong take from someone who titled their article, “Reds payroll update: Up, but still well below AVERAGE.”

        Argue semantics and insult me if you want – the median and the average between salaries is immaterial. Your argument for the Reds’ payroll would hold more water if you analyzed the Reds with other teams in similar markets or at least considered the myriad of expenses across the organization not publicized.

        I like and appreciate your work, Steve – just disagree with where you’re coming from on this one.

    • ToBeDetermined


      I know that Steve got his back up a little based on your comments. But, I would strongly side with you on your 1st paragraph and to an extent your 2nd paragraph.

      In particular your “However, I find these recent articles increasingly populist with an obvious political underpinning” I also saw. Every writer and commentator is entitled to their personal opinions based on their personal experiences. Hopefully, you will not be dissuaded from keeping RedLegNation as part of your daily routine. I have a feeling this is going to be a fun year to be a Reds fan.

      • ptaylor

        “I find these recent articles increasingly populist with an obvious political underpinning that challenges my personal beliefs.” FTFY

        I keed, but only a little.

        Longtime lurker. I find it interesting that folks are willing to side with MLB/Owners, especially when it comes to MiLB operations. My 16 year old son would love to play baseball for a living. He doesn’t care if that means eating ramen and living with 3 other guys.

        He doesn’t understand the concept of exploitation. In my opinion, an owner can exploit a worker, but that doesn’t mean it is right or just.

      • Private Gripweed

        I love RLN and would rather read articles like this than none at all on this site.