- The average total payroll across MLB in 2023 is $147,827,561.
- The New York Mets have the highest payroll at $334,233,332.
- The lowest payroll belongs to the Oakland Athletics at $42,425,000.
Baseball’s an expensive business, and there often seems to be no end to the amount of money big-market owners will shell out to see top players on their teams. As mega-contracts become more common across the league and payroll sizes continue to grow, some teams appear to see the annual luxury tax threshold as more of a mere inconvenience than any real deterrent to spending.
The average total payroll across all MLB teams in 2023 is $147,827,561. The Houston Astros, the reigning champions and current favorites to win the World Series with odds of +600, have a payroll of $180,554,999, which is 22.1% higher than the league average. Not far behind the Astros with World Series odds of +900 are the New York Mets, who top the league with the highest payroll of $334,233,332, 126% higher than the league average.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Oakland Athletics have the lowest 2023 payroll at $42,425,000, with the Baltimore Orioles, at $50,691,666, not far behind them.
So, according to Sportrac, which teams are paying out the most in 2023?
MLB Teams With Highest Payrolls in 2023
|1||New York Mets||$334,233,332|
|2||New York Yankees||$267,954,047|
|3||San Diego Padres||$236,962,024|
|5||Los Angeles Dodgers||$217,612,634|
|6||Toronto Blue Jays||$205,715,117|
|7||Los Angeles Angels||$204,088,094|
|11||San Francisco Giants||$175,590,000|
|12||Chicago White Sox||$173,416,666|
|14||Boston Red Sox||$167,533,182|
|16||St. Louis Cardinals||$147,770,834|
|24||Kansas City Royals||$75,825,000|
|27||Tampa Bay Rays||$63,176,211|
Top 3 Highest Payrolls in MLB
New York Mets — $334,233,332
The Mets had the second-highest payroll in 2022 ($259,080,090), and after an incredible offseason spending spree, they’ve increased it by 29% this season to sit 126% higher than the league average.
Owner Steve Cohen was anything but shy when writing checks during the 2022-23 offseason, signing Justin Verlander (two years, $86.6 million), José Quintana (two years, $26 million), Kodai Senga (five years, $75 million), and a slew of other top free agents. Brandon Nimmo (eight years, $162 million), Edwin Diaz (five years, $102 million), Adam Ottavino (two years, $14.5 million), and Jeff McNeil (four years, $50 million) were also re-signed, so it’s no shock that New York currently leads the league on payroll spending.
With more than $334 million on the books in 2023, the Mets are expected to pay over $103 million in tax penalties this year. Only time will tell if this exorbitant spending is enough to see New York take home their first World Series title since 1986.
Jeff McNeil RBI 🤩
Vote 👉 https://t.co/c9K6rkBFRV pic.twitter.com/p3Ellzjwz0
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 16, 2022
New York Yankees — $267,954,047
Having re-signed star slugger Aaron Judge (nine years, $360 million) and acquired pitcher Carlos Rodón (six years, $162 million) during the offseason, it’s hardly a surprise the Yankees find themselves at the top of this list.
At nearly $268 million, the team’s 2023 payroll is 81.3% higher than the league average and 6.8% higher than it paid out in 2022 ($250,828,357). The Yankees are expected to pay approximately $24.1 million in tax penalties this season.
Although the Yankees haven’t won an AL pennant in 13 years, the team is consistently at the top of the standings and a regular contender in the playoffs, so it’s hard to say their high payroll hasn’t historically equaled at least some level of success. Perhaps 2023 will be the year to end New York’s World Series drought.
San Diego Padres — $236,962,024
The Padres went all-out at the 2022 trade deadline to secure a playoff berth, and after being eliminated in the ALCS, they put their money where their mouth is during the offseason. The team signed Xander Bogaerts to an 11-year, $280 million contract and extended Manny Machado on a 10-year, $300 million deal.
The Padres’ payroll of almost $237 million is 60.3% higher than the league average and 8.9% higher than what they paid out in 2022 ($217,618,791). The team is expected to pay approximately $10 million in tax penalties on its payroll this year.
GM A.J. Preller has made it clear he wants to bring San Diego its first World Series title — could 2023 be the year?
MANNY. MACHADO. #CaptureTheMoment pic.twitter.com/jHBJORVp2K
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) October 8, 2022
Lowest Payroll in MLB
Oakland Athletics – $42,425,000
They were the second-lowest last season, and in 2023 the Athletics are paying out even less money. This year, Oakland’s payroll is 71.3% lower than the league average and 12.6% lower than 2022 ($48,513,578).
In 2022, the Athletics finished the regular season last in the AL West and second-to-last in the entire MLB with a record of 60-102. Considering the team has invested even less money in payroll this year and not made any effort to bolster the roster with a top player or two, it’s hard to expect anything too inspiring to come out of Oakland in 2023.
Still, money isn’t everything, and maybe the Athletics can prove all the detractors wrong.
I doubt it, though.
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