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Ranking MLB Teams on Which Will Get the Best Bang for Their Buck

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2013

Ranking MLB Teams on Which Will Get the Best Bang for Their Buck

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    For some teams, the offseason is an annual time for spending big and improving the team for the season ahead. However, for others it's a time to look for bargains as they work within the confines of tight payroll restrictions.

    In either case, it is important that teams make the most of the money they spend and get everything they can out of their payrolls.

    So here is where I rank all 30 MLB teams based on which will get the most bang for their buck this coming season.

     

    *All payroll estimates and salary figures came from MLBDepthCharts magazine as of 1/31/13.

30. New York Yankees (Payroll Rank: 2)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $219,620,000

     

    Overview

    The Yankees have the highest-paid player in baseball in Alex Rodriguez and they'll be paying him to sit on the sideline for at least half of the season. On top of the $29 million he'll make, the team spent another $12 million to replace him in signing Kevin Youkilis.

    From A-Rod on down the line, the Yankees are a collection of aging stars who are only getting worse, side from ace CC Sabathia and slugging second baseman Robinson Cano.

    If the team is hit by injuries or some of their aging players continue to decline, the Yankees could struggle to make the playoffs in an improved AL East, and with a payroll over $200 million, missing the postseason is unacceptable.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. 3B Alex Rodriguez: $29 million
    2. SP CC Sabathia: $23 million
    3. 1B Mark Teixeira: $22.5 million
    4. SS Derek Jeter: $17 million
    5. SP Hiroki Kuroda: $15 million
    5. 2B Robinson Cano: $15 million 
    5. CF Curtis Granderson: $15 million
    8. SP Andy Pettitte: $12 million
    8. 3B Kevin Youkilis: $12 million 
    10. RP Mariano Rivera: $10 million

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    C Chris Stewart, C Francisco Cervelli, UT Eduardo Nunez, SP Ivan Nova, RP Clay Rapada, RP David Phelps

29. Colorado Rockies (Payroll Rank: 23)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $80,255,500

     

    Overview

    The Rockies have a number of questionable contracts, led by "ace" Jorge De La Rosa, who exercised an $11 million player option at the beginning of the offseason.

    Catcher Ramon Hernandez has been replaced by Wilin Rosario, and Michael Cuddyer could easily be replaced by Tyler Colvin, so both of those contracts are tough to deal with.

    Still, if Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez can stay healthy and produce, they're both relative bargains, and guys like Josh Rutledge and Drew Pomeranz could make an impact at the league minimum.

    They need to spend on some pitching to shore up what is a rough starting rotation, and spending $4.25 million on closer Rafael Betancourt and $4.1 million on setup man Matt Belisle seems like a waste of money, given the struggles of their starters.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. SP Jorge De La Rosa: $11 million
    2. RF Michael Cuddyer: $10.5 million
    3. SS Troy Tulowitzki: $10 million
    4. LF Carlos Gonzalez: $7.5 million
    5. 1B Todd Helton: $5 million 
    6. CP Rafael Betancourt: $4.25 million
    7. RP Matt Belisle: $4.1 million
    8. CF Dexter Fowler: $3.75 million
    9. C Ramon Hernandez: $3.2 million 
    10. 1B/OF Tyler Colvin: $2.275 million 

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    C Wilin Rosario, 2B Josh Rutledge, 3B Chris Nelson, SP Drew Pomeranz, SP Juan Nicasio, RP Rex Brothers

28. New York Mets (Payroll Rank: 14)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $104,723,000

     

    Overview

    The fact that Johan Santana is still making $25.5 million is a serious drain on the Mets payroll, as he missed all of 2011 and went just 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA in 21 starts last season. He has a $25 million option with a $5.5 million buyout for 2014.

    On the other hand, locking up David Wright on a seven-year, $122 million extension was a solid move after losing Jose Reyes last offseason.

    The team has a rough bullpen despite their high payroll, and closer Frank Francisco was far from worth $6.5 million last season, but landing Pedro Feliciano and LaTroy Hawkins in minor-league deals could help.

    Pitchers Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard have bright futures, and the Mets have a lot of other solid young pieces, but they are still a few years off and seriously need to free up some payroll.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. SP Johan Santana: $25.5 million
    2. 3B David Wright: $16 million
    3. CP Frank Francisco: $6.5 million
    4. C John Buck: $6 million
    5. SP Shaun Marcum: $4 million
    6. 1B Ike Davis: $3.125 million 
    7. SP Jon Niese: $3 million 
    8. 2B Daniel Murphy: $2.925 million 
    9. RP Bobby Parnell: $1.7 million
    10. RP Pedro Feliciano: $1 million (projected major league contract)
    10. RP LaTroy Hawkins: $1 million (projected major league contract) 

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    C Travis d'Arnaud, SS Ruben Tejada, CF Kirk Nieuwenhuis, LF Lucas Duda, SP Matt Harvey, SP Dillon Gee, RP Josh Edgin

27. Chicago White Sox (Payroll Rank: 9)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $123,011,000

     

    Overview

    The White Sox are spending a ton of money on sluggers Adam Dunn and Alex Rios, and while they had bounce-back seasons last year, it was after horrible performances in 2011.

    Those two, along with veteran Paul Konerko, eat up a good chunk of the team's payroll and they certainly aren't getting any younger.

    The team made a sound move to kick off the offseason in declining their $22 million option on Jake Peavy and bringing him back on a two-year, $29 million deal.

    Ace Chris Sale won't be arbitration eligible until next year and remains a steal, while closer Addison Reed will be had on the cheap through 2014. Those two, along with Jose Quintana, should form the core of the White Sox pitching staff along with John Danks.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. DH Adam Dunn: $15 million
    2. SP Jake Peavy: $14.5 million
    3. SP John Danks: $14.25 million
    4. 1B Paul Konerko: $13.5 million
    5. RF Alex Rios: $12.5 million 
    6. SP Gavin Floyd: $9.5 million
    7. SS Alexei Ramirez: $7 million
    8. RP Matt Thornton: $5.5 million
    9. RP Jesse Crain: $4.5 million
    10. 3B Jeff Keppinger: $3.5 million

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    C Tyler Flowers, SP Chris Sale, SP Jose Quintana, RP Addison Reed

26. Miami Marlins (Payroll Rank: 29)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $51,513,000

     

    Overview

    After a rough season last year when expectations were incredibly high, the Marlins blew it up this offseason and sent a a good deal of talent and payroll to the Blue Jays for a handful of prospects.

    As a result, the team has just one player making over $3 million in right-hander Ricky Nolasco, and he's a sure thing to be moved at the deadline as a free-agent-to-be.

    With a number of youngsters making an impact and "veteran" sluggers Logan Morrison and Giancarlo Stanton still making the league minimum, any production they get will come at a good price.

    It could be a tough season in Miami, but with a $51 million payroll, they have a relatively talented roster of young players.

     

    Top 8 Highest Paid

    1. SP Ricky Nolasco: $11.5 million
    2. 3B Placido Polanco: $2.75 million
    3. SS Adeiny Hechavarria: $1.75 million
    4. LF Juan Pierre: $1.6 million 
    5. C Jeff Mathis: $1.5 million
    5. IF/OF Greg Dobbs: $1.5 million
    7. SP Jacob Turner: $1.175 million 
    8. RP Ryan Webb: $975,000

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    C Rob Brantly, 1B Logan Morrison, 2B Donovan Solano, RF Giancarlo Stanton, CF Justin Ruggiano, SP Henderson Alvarez, SP Wade LeBlanc, SP Nate Eovaldi, RP Steve Cishek, RP Mike Dunn

25. Chicago Cubs (Payroll Rank: 13)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $108,689,667

     

    Overview

    The Cubs have spent the offseason filling out their roster with mid-level veterans on short-term deals, and they've specifically focused on pitching with Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman, Scott Baker and Carlos Villanueva joining the staff.

    It will be far from enough to make the Cubs contenders this coming season, but it should make them a little more watchable and could give them more trade bait at the deadline.

    The $36 million Alfonso Soriano is still due over the next two seasons remains an anchor, but aside from him and free-agent-to-be Matt Garza, the Cubs are without any sizable contracts as they work toward rebuilding.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. LF Alfonso Soriano: $18 million
    2. SP Matt Garza: $11.5 million
    3. SP Edwin Jackson: $11 million
    4. RP Carlos Marmol: $9.8 million
    5. SP Scott Feldman: $6 million
    6. SP Scott Baker: $5.5 million
    7. SS Starlin Castro: $5 million
    7. SP Carlos Villanueva: $5 million 
    9. RF David DeJesus: $4.25 million
    10. RP Kyuji Fujikawa: $4 million 

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    C Welington Castillo, 1B Anthony Rizzo, 2B Darwin Barney, P Travis Wood

24. Houston Astros (Payroll Rank: 30)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $35,401,000

     

    Overview

    The Astros have just eight players on the roster slated to make over $800,000 this coming season, and two of them are guys on minor-league contracts in Erik Bedard and Rick Ankiel, who have to earn themselves a spot on the roster first.

    As such, their team payroll is just $6.4 million more than what Alex Rodriguez will make by himself this coming season.

    So while there is not all that much in the way of bucks being spent in Houston, there won't be all that much bang, either, as they'll be hard-pressed to avoid another 100-loss season.

     

    Top 8 Highest Paid

    1. SP Bud Norris: $3 million
    2. DH Carlos Pena: $2.9 million
    3. SS Jed Lowrie: $2.4 million 
    4. CP Jose Veras: $1.85 million
    5. SP Erik Bedard: $1 million (projected major-league deal)
    5. RP Wesley Wright: $1 million (projected arbitration figure)
    7. OF Rick Ankiel: $850,000 (projected major-league deal)
    8. SP Phil Humber: $800,000

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration

    C Jason Castro, 1B Brett Wallace, 2B Jose Altuve, 3B Matt Dominguez, OF J.D. Martinez, OF Justin Maxwell, OF Fernando Martinez, SP Lucas Harrell, SP Jordan Lyles, RP Xavier Cedeno

23. Boston Red Sox (Payroll Rank: 4)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $163,448,001

     

    Overview

    The Red Sox did a fantastic job last August unloading a ton of salary on the Dodgers in trading Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford.

    However, they turned around and spent that money on a gaggle of middling veterans this offseason, adding Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster, Stephen Drew, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, David Ross, Lyle Overbay and Koji Uehara for a combined $58.49 million this coming season.

    It may make them a better team for 2013, but good enough to contend in the AL East? One thing's for sure, it does little to build a foundation for sustained success, and outside of Will Middlebrooks, there is not much in the way of low-cost young talent on the roster.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. SP John Lackey: $15.25 million
    2. DH David Ortiz: $14 million
    3. SP Ryan Dempster: $13.25 million
    4. RF Shane Victorino: $13 million
    5. SP Jon Lester: $11.625 million
    6. 2B Dustin Pedroia: $10 million
    7. SS Stephen Drew: $9.5 million
    8. CF Jacoby Ellsbury: $9 million 
    9. CP Joel Hanrahan: $7.04 million 
    10. SP Clay Buchholz: $5.5 million 

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    3B Will Middlebrooks, RP Junichi Tazawa

22. Texas Rangers (Payroll Rank: 8)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $128,653,000

     

    Overview

    The Rangers have roughly the same payroll as last season despite losing Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Michael Young, Ryan Dempster, Koji Uehara and Mike Adams.

    Giving $10 million to Lance Berkman was a clear desperation move after missing out on their top targets, and paying Young $10 million to play for the Phillies isn't a great allocation of funds, either.

    The team does have a strong pitching staff that comes relatively cheap as Yu Darvish is the big money arm at $9.5 million. Recently extended Matt Harrison ($5 million) and Derek Holland ($3.2 million) are bargains and Alexi Ogando and Martin Perez are still pre-arbitration.

    Still, the Rangers have clearly taken a step back from last season but are still paying the same amount, so it's hard to get too excited about their financial situation, though they do have the money to spend.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. 3B Adrian Beltre: $16 million
    2. 2B Ian Kinsler: $13 million 
    3. RF Nelson Cruz: $10.5 million
    4. DH Lance Berkman: $10 million
    5. SP Yu Darvish: $9.5 million
    6. CP Joe Nathan: $7 million
    7. C A.J. Pierzynski: $7.5 million
    8. LF David Murphy: $5.775 million 
    9. SP Matt Harrison: $5 million
    10. SS Elvis Andrus: $4.8 million 

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    1B Mitch Moreland, CF Leonys Martin, OF Craig Gentry, SP Alexi Ogando, SP Martin Perez, RP Robert Ross, RP Josh Lindblom, RP Tanner Scheppers

21. Cleveland Indians (Payroll Rank: 24)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $73,855,500

     

    Overview

    While they were expected to deal some of their more expensive veteran pieces this offseason and start rebuilding, the Indians instead opted to go the route of buyer this offseason.

    As it stands, they'll be paying nearly $20 million for the under-performing trio of Brett Myers, Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson.

    Adding Nick Swisher on a four-year, $56 million deal may have seemed like a dumb move for a rebuilding team, but he'll be a welcome run producer and veteran leader for their young core.

    With Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley and Trevor Bauer among others still not arbitration eligible and Carlos Santana making just $550,000 on a five-year, $21 million deal, the team has some solid, low-cost pieces.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. RF Nick Swisher: $11 million
    2. RP Chris Perez: $7.3 million
    3. SP Brett Myers: $7 million
    4. SS Asdrubal Cabrera: $6.5 million 
    5. 1B Mark Reynolds: $6 million
    6. SP Ubaldo Jimenez: $5.75 million
    7. SP Justin Masterson: $5.6785 million 
    8. RP Joe Smith: $3.15 million 
    9. CF Drew Stubbs: $2.825 million 
    10. IF Mike Aviles: $1.8 million (projected arbitration figure)

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    2B Jason Kipnis, 3B Lonnie Chisenhall, CF Michael Brantley, SP Trevor Bauer, SP Zach McAllister, SP Carlos Carrasco, RP Vinnie Pestano

20. Philadelphia Phillies (Payroll Rank: 3)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $164,421,000

     

    Overview

    The Phillies are a rapidly aging group of superstars, but if they can stay healthy this coming season, they may have one last shot at title contention.

    The trio of Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels can still rival any in baseball, and they'll make a combined $64.5 million this coming season.

    They will go to battle with a veteran infield of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Michael Young that will make a combined $62 million this coming season, as those seven guys make more than most teams.

    Again, health will be the driving factor in whether the Phillies' core of stars can earn their hefty salaries this coming season, but on paper they look like a solid group.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. SP Cliff Lee: $25 million
    2. 1B Ryan Howard: $20 million
    2. SP Roy Halladay: $20 million
    3. SP Cole Hamels: $19.5 million
    5. 3B Michael Young: $16 million ($10 million paid by TEX)
    6. 2B Chase Utley: $15 million
    7. CP Jonathan Papelbon: $13 million
    8. SS Jimmy Rollins: $11 million
    10. C Carlos Ruiz: $5 million
    10. RP Mike Adams: $5 million

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    CF Ben Revere, OF Domonic Brown, OF John Mayberry, RP Jeremy Horst

19. Minnesota Twins (Payroll Rank: 19)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $86,977,000

     

    Overview

    Things looked bleak after Joe Mauer played in just 82 games in 2011 and struggled while he was on the field, but he bounced back well last season with a .319/.416/.446 line.

    He makes up over a quarter of the Twins payroll, and another sizable chunk goes to former MVP Justin Morneau, though he is in the final year of his six-year, $80 million deal.

    After those two, though, the team doesn't have any overly expensive players and the three-year, $21 million deal they signed Josh Willingham to last offseason was perhaps the steal of the winter.

    Pitchers Vance Worley and Scott Diamond will be values in this year's rotation, and newly acquired prospects Alex Meyer and Trevor May will be the future of the staff as their pitching is cheap from top to bottom.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid Players

    1. C Joe Mauer: $23 million
    2. 1B: Justin Morneau: $14 million
    3. LF Josh Willingham: $7 million 
    4. SP Kevin Correia: $4.5 million 
    5. SP Mike Pelfrey: $4 million 
    6. 2B Jamey Carroll: $3.75 million
    7. DH Ryan Doumit: $3.5 million 
    8. CP Glen Perkins: $2.5 million
    9. RP Jared Burton: $2 million 
    10. SP Brian Duensing: $1.3 million

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    3B Trevor Plouffe, OF Darin Mastroianni, OF Chris Parmelee, SP Vance Worley, SP Scott Diamond, SP Liam Hendriks, RP Casey Fien, RP Alex Burnett

18. Arizona Diamondbacks (Payroll Rank: 18)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $88,539,000

     

    Overview

    The Diamondbacks have a solid young core of position players, and a projected starting rotation that will cost just under $15 million combined this coming season and could very well rank among the best in the National League.

    Their bullpen is pricey, led by J.J. Putz, Heath Bell and Brad Ziegler ($3.15 million) and remains one of the weaker areas of the team entering the season, but it has been improved with the additions of Bell, Tony Sipp and Matt Reynolds.

    The Snakes took a big step back last year after winning the division in 2011, and while the Giants and Dodgers are looking strong, they have an outside shot at contending if they can catch a few breaks.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. C Miguel Montero: $10 million
    2. RP Heath Bell: $9 million ($4 million paid by MIA)
    3. LF Jason Kubel: $7.5 million
    4. 3B Martin Prado: $7 million 
    5. CP J.J. Putz: $6.5 million
    6. RF Cody Ross: $6 million
    7. SP Trevor Cahill: $5.5 million
    7. 2B Aaron Hill: $5.5 million
    9. SP Ian Kennedy: $4.265 million
    10. SP Brandon McCarthy: $4 million

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    1B Paul Goldschmidt, CF Adam Eaton, SP Wade Miley, SP Tyler Skaggs

17. Los Angeles Dodgers (Payroll Rank: 1)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $227,320,286

     

    Overview

    With a payroll north of $225 million, the Dodgers have officially claimed the title of highest payroll in the league, and it will be interesting to see how their group of stars comes together as a team.

    The former Red Sox trio of Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford will make a combined $58 million this coming season, and they will need to bounce back after down years last year.

    That, along with healthy seasons from highly paid outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, will determine whether the Dodgers' big spending was worth it.

    They landed the market's big pitcher in Zack Greinke at $17 million this coming season, and Clayton Kershaw is an absolute steal at $11 million. He'll get significantly more expensive very soon, and could be the first $200 million pitcher.

     

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. 1B Adrian Gonzalez: $21 million
    2. CF Matt Kemp: $20 million
    2. LF Carl Crawford: $20 million
    4. SP Zack Greinke: $17 million
    5. SP Josh Beckett: $15.75 million
    6. SS Hanley Ramirez: $15.5 million
    7. RF Andre Ethier: $13.5 million 
    8. SP Ted Lilly: $12 million
    9. SP Chad Billingsley: $11 million
    9. SP Clayton Kershaw: $11 million 

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    3B Luis Cruz, RP Kenley Jansen, RP Javy Guerra

16. Kansas City Royals (Payroll Rank: 20)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $86,080,000

     

    Overview

    The Royals have a terrific young core of players, and young sluggers Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas will still be making the league minimum this coming season. 

    Other core offensive players like Alcides Escobar, Billy Butler and Alex Gordon are solid bargains as well, though Jeff Francoeur is a payroll drain at this point with a $7.5 million salary.

    On the other side of things, pitching has been a problem in years past, and the team made it its main area of focus this offseason.

    The Royals will spend a combined $40 million on their six starting pitching candidates this coming season, and while Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie may be overpaid, that's offset by James Shields and Wade Davis being relative bargains.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. SP Ervin Santana: $13 million ($1 million paid by LAA)
    2. SP James Shields: $10.25 million
    3. LF Alex Gordon: $9 million
    4. DH Billy Butler: $8 million
    5. RF Jeff Francoeur: $7.5 million 
    6. SP Jeremy Guthrie: $5 million
    7. SP Luke Hochevar: $4.56 million
    8. SP Bruce Chen: $4.5 million
    9. SS Alcides Escobar: $3 million
    10. SP Wade Davis: $2.8 million

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    1B Eric Hosmer, 3B Mike Moustakas, CF Lorenzo Cain, RP Kelvin Herrera, RP Aaron Crow, RP Tim Collins, CP Greg Holland

15. San Diego Padres (Payroll Rank: 26)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $72,377,000

     

    Overview

    The Padres were expected to be sellers at the deadline last season, but instead they signed veterans Carlos Quentin and Huston Street to extensions and opted not to move Chase Headley.

    Headley wound up turning in a monster season, leading the NL in RBI, and he is now in line for a huge extension or a huge contract in free agency at the end of the 2014 season. At $8.575 million this coming season, he's a bargain if he can repeat his 2012 numbers.

    The Padres have one of the deepest farm systems in all of baseball, and they should begin to reap the benefits of that this coming season, led by slugging second-base prospect Jedd Gyorko. That should mean solid production at a low price up and down the roster.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. LF Carlos Quentin: $9.5 million
    2. 3B Chase Headley: $8.575 million 
    3. CP Huston Street: $7 million
    4. SP Edinson Volquez: $5.725 million
    5. SP Clayton Richard: $4.2 million (projected arbitration figure)
    6. RP Luke Gregerson: $3.2 million
    7. SP Jason Marquis: $3 million 
    7. C Nick Hundley: $3 million
    7. CF Cameron Maybin: $3 million 
    10. RF Wil Venable: $2.675 million 

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    1B Yonder Alonso, 1B/OF Jesus Guzman, 2B Jedd Gyorko, 2B Logan Forsythe, SP Eric Stults, RP Brad Brach, RP Dale Thayer, RP Nick Vincent, RP Anthony Bass

14. Los Angeles Angels (Payroll Rank: 5)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $156,613,857

     

    Overview

    There may be no player in baseball who gives a team less bang for its buck than Vernon Wells this coming season, as he'll make roughly $25 million as the Angels' fourth outfielder.

    They are also spending big on sluggers Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton as well as starter Jered Weaver, but that trio has the tools to once again be among the best in the game this coming season.

    Joe Blanton at $6.5 million is no bargain, and infielders Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick are among the highest-paid at their positions as well.

    They spent $7 million combined on Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett to shore up their bullpen and added Jason Vargas and Tommy Hanson to their rotation. It's a collection of high-priced players, but they have the potential to make plenty of noise.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. OF Vernon Wells: $24.643 million
    2. 1B Albert Pujols: $16 million
    2. SP Jered Weaver: $16 million
    4. RF Josh Hamilton: $15 million
    5. SP C.J. Wilson: $11 million
    6. 2B Howie Kendrick: $8.75 million
    7. SS Erick Aybar: $8.5 million
    7. SP Jason Vargas: $8.5 million 
    9. SP Joe Blanton: $6.5 million
    10. C Chris Iannetta: $5.05 million

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    DH Mark Trumbo, OF Peter Bourjos, OF Mike Trout, RP Ernesto Frieri, RP David Carpenter

13. Pittsburgh Pirates (Payroll Rank: 25)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $72,674,667

     

    Overview

    The Pirates have made a push toward contention each of the past two seasons, but have come up short down the stretch, as their streak of losing seasons stands at 20.

    Their signing of Russell Martin away from the Yankees was as much a symbolic move of their commitment to contention as it was a significant upgrade over Rod Barajas at catcher.

    They still have a modest payroll, but the continued improvement of their young hitters Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez, along with the arrival of top pitching prospects Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon, could be enough to push them over the top.

    The six-year, $51.5 million extension that McCutchen signed may well be the best contract in all of baseball moving forward.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. SP A.J. Burnett: $16.5 million ($8.5 million paid by NYY)
    2. SP Wandy Rodriguez: $13 million ($5 million paid by HOU)
    3. C Russell Martin: $6.5 million
    4. SP Francisco Liriano: $6.25 million
    5. SS Clint Barmes: $5.5 million
    6. CF Andrew McCutchen: $4.5 million
    6. 1B Garrett Jones: $4.5 million
    8. 2B Neil Walker: $3.3 million
    9. SP James McDonald: $3.025 million 
    10. SP Jeff Karstens: $2.5 million 

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    LF Starling Marte, OF Travis Snider, RP Mark Melancon, RP Tony Watson, RP Jared Hughes, RP Justin Wilson, RP Bryan Morris

12. San Francisco Giants (Payroll Rank: 7)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $143,425,000

     

    Overview

    The Giants' focus this offseason was retaining their key free-agent pieces, and while Angel Pagan was a solid value on a four-year, $40 million deal, the team vastly overpaid for Marco Scutaro and spent big on Jeremy Affeldt as well.

    Barry Zito finally earned some of his excessive salary last season and is finally in the last year of his seven-year, $126 million deal. Meanwhile, former Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum fell off significantly last year and will be hitting the open market as well.

    Buster Posey got $8 million in his first year of arbitration but remains a great value, and a bounce-back season from Hunter Pence ($13.8 million) would be a major help to the team's offensive production.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. SP Tim Lincecum: $22 million
    2. SP Matt Cain: $20 million
    2. SP Barry Zito: $20 million
    4. RF Hunter Pence: $13.8 million
    5. C Buster Posey: $8 million
    6. CF Angel Pagan: $7 million
    7. 2B Marco Scutaro: $6 million
    7. RP Jeremy Affeldt: $6 million
    9. 3B Pablo Sandoval: $5.7 million 
    10. SP Ryan Vogelsong: $5 million 

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    1B Brandon Belt, SS Brandon Crawford, RP George Kontos

11. Seattle Mariners (Payroll Rank: 21)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $82,682,000

     

    Overview

    Felix Hernandez is one of the best pitchers in baseball and is worth every penny of the $19.5 million he'll make this coming season, and beyond him, the Mariners don't have much in the way of big contracts.

    Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales were brought on board to improve the league's worst offense, and they aren't overly expensive as one-year additions.

    The real story in Seattle is the arrival of their top prospects, as Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, Nick Franklin, Mike Zunino, Carter Capps and Stephen Pryor could all make an impact this coming season as rookies.

    That will mean significant production at the league minimum, and Jesus Montero, Kyle Seager, Tom Wilhelmsen and a handful of others will join them in making virtually nothing.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. SP Felix Hernandez: $19.5 million
    2. CF Franklin Gutierrez: $7 million
    3. LF Michael Morse: $6.75 million
    4. SP Hisashi Iwakuma: $6.5 million
    5. DH Kendrys Morales: $5.25 million 
    6. SS Brendan Ryan: $3.25 million 
    7. OF Raul Ibanez: $2.75 million 
    8. 2B Dustin Ackley: $1.75 million (pre-arbitration)
    8. IF Robert Andino: $1.75 million (projected arbitration figure) 
    10. C Kelly Shoppach: $1.5 million
    10. RP Oliver Perez: $1.5 million 

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    C Jesus Montero, 1B Justin Smoak, 3B Kyle Seager, RF Michael Saunders, SP Erasmo Ramirez, SP Blake Beavan, SP Hector Noesi, RP Carter Capps, RP Stephen Pryor, RP Charlie Furbush, CP Tom Wilhelmsen

10. St. Louis Cardinals (Payroll Rank: 11)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $120,652,000

     

    Overview

    The Cardinals entered the offseason without any clear needs, even with the departure of Cy Young candidate Kyle Lohse, and they have always been good at funneling in new talent with their veterans.

    Jake Westbrook ($8.75 million) and Rafael Furcal ($7 million) are overpaid at this point in their careers, but they fill needs and should still provide solid production.

    Allen Craig should continue to emerge as one of the NL's premier run producers, and he won't be arbitration eligible until next offseason. The same goes for center fielder John Jay, and 18-game winner Lance Lynn isn't eligible until 2015. 

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. LF Matt Holliday: $17 million
    2. C Yadier Molina: $14 million
    3. RF Carlos Beltran: $13 million 
    4. SP Chris Carpenter: $12.5 million
    5. SP Adam Wainwright: $12 million
    6. SP Jake Westbrook: $8.75 million
    7. SS Rafael Furcal: $7 million 
    8. CP Jason Motte: $6 million (projected arbitration figure)
    9. SP Jaime Garcia: $5.75 million
    10. RP Edward Mujica: $3.2 million

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    1B Allen Craig, 2B Daniel Descalso, CF Jon Jay, SP Lance Lynn, SP Shelby Miller, SP Joe Kelly, RP Trevor Rosenthal, RP Fernando Salas

9. Baltimore Orioles (Payroll Rank: 16)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $95,794,000 

     

    Overview

    The Orioles have built a solid core of players from within, and with the bulk of their payroll tied up in the lineup, they have a cheap but also fairly weak starting rotation.

    Chris Tillman has the stuff to be the staff ace this coming season, and he won't be arbitration eligible until after 2014, while future star Manny Machado won't be up until the following offseason.

    Prospects like Dylan Bundy and Jonathan Schoop could make an impact this season as well at a bargain price. On the other side of things, the team will be happy to be out from under the four-year, $40 million deal they gave Brian Roberts, as he'll be a free agent at season's end.

    The Orioles have a number of players who will get more costly moving forward, but for now they'll enjoy paying guys like Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Wei-Yin Chen and others a fraction of their market value. 

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. RF Nick Markakis: $15 million
    2. 2B Brian Roberts: $10 million
    3. CF Adam Jones: $8.5 million
    4. SS J.J. Hardy: $7 million
    5. SP Jason Hammel: $6.3 million (projected arbitration figure)
    6. RP Jim Johnson: $6 million (projected arbitration figure)
    7. C Matt Wieters: $5.5 million
    8. SP Wei-Yin Chen: $3.572 million
    9. 1B Chris Davis: $3.3 million
    10. RP Darren O'Day: $2.2 million (projected arbitration figure)

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    3B Manny Machado, SP Chris Tillman, SP Miguel Gonzalez, RP Pedro Strop 

8. Milwaukee Brewers (Payroll Rank: 22)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $80,843,000

     

    Overview

    This will be the last season that the Brewers have the luxury of paying superstar Ryan Braun less than $10 million, and he'll be back along with the rest of the key pieces from the highest-scoring offense in the National League last season.

    Ace Yovani Gallardo is also a solid deal at $7.75 million this coming season, as he ranks among the best pitchers in all of baseball and is in the prime of his career.

    The Brewers are paying virtually nothing for the rest of their pitching staff aside from the $5 million that closer John Axford will make, and it's a young group that has the potential to surprise led by guys like Michael Fiers and Marco Estrada.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. 3B Aramis Ramirez: $10 million
    1. 2B Rickie Weeks: $10 million
    1. 1B Corey Hart: $10 million
    4. LF Ryan Braun: $8.5 million 
    5. SP Yovani Gallardo: $7.75 million 
    6. CP John Axford: $5 million 
    7. CF Carlos Gomez: $4.3 million 
    8. RP Tom Gorzelanny: $2.6 million
    9. RP Mike Gonzalez: $2.25 million 
    10. SP Marco Estrada: $1.955 million 

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    1B Mat Gamel, SS Jean Segura, SP Mike Fiers, SP Wily Peralta, SP Mark Rogers, SP Tyler Thornburg, RP Jim Henderson, RP Brandon Kintzler

7. Detroit Tigers (Payroll Rank: 6)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $155,901,000

     

    Overview

    The Tigers have three players making over $20 million, but the trio of Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder rank among the best in the game at their respective positions and are worth every penny.

    Torii Hunter was signed to a solid two-year, $26 million deal, and the five-year, $80 million deal that Anibal Sanchez signed is back-loaded, so he is a bargain this coming season.

    The team picked up their $6 million option on Jhonny Peralta, and while he's not quite worth it at this point in his career, the shortstop market was thin so they didn't have much choice.

    All in all, for as high as their payroll is, the Tigers don't have any players they are glaringly overpaying for, and top prospects like Bruce Rondon and Nick Castellanos should make a solid impact at the minimum.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. 1B Prince Fielder: $23 million
    2. 3B Miguel Cabrera: $21 million
    3. SP Justin Verlander: $20 million
    4. DH Victor Martinez: $13 million
    5. RF Torii Hunter: $12 million
    6. SP Anibal Sanchez: $8 million
    7. SP Max Scherzer: $7 million (projected arbitration figure)
    8. SS Jhonny Peralta: $6 million 
    9. RP Joaquin Benoit: $5.5 million
    10. SP Rick Porcello: $5.1 million

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    LF Andy Dirks, SP Drew Smyly, RP Al Alburquerque, RP Brayan Villarreal, CP Bruce Rondon

6. Toronto Blue Jays (Payroll Rank: 10)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $121,981,000

     

    Overview

    The Blue Jays went all-in this offseason, pulling off a pair of blockbuster deals to acquire Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Emilio Bonifacio (combined $37.35 million) from the Marlins and R.A. Dickey ($5 million) from the Mets.

    Getting Dickey to agree to a two-year, $25 million extension was a solid signing for a reigning Cy Young winner.

    Sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion should have no problem living up to their contracts if they're healthy, and budding superstar third baseman Brett Lawrie won't be arbitration eligible until 2015.

    For all the action that went on this offseason, the Blue Jays payroll is still relatively manageable and sits a comfortable $100 million behind the Yankees', who they'll be contending with for the AL East crown.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. RF Jose Bautista: $14 million
    2. SP Josh Johnson: $13.75 million
    3. SP Mark Buehrle: $11 million
    4. SS Jose Reyes: $10 million
    5. SP Brandon Morrow: $8 million
    5. LF Melky Cabrera: $8 million 
    5. 1B Edwin Encarnacion: $8 million 
    8. SP Ricky Romero: $7.5 million 
    9. SP R.A. Dickey, $5 million
    9. DH Adam Lind: $5 million

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    C J.P. Arencibia, 3B Brett Lawrie, RP Steve Delabar, RP Brad Lincoln, RP Esmil Rogers

5. Cincinnati Reds (Payroll Rank: 15)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $102,428,000

     

    Overview

    The Reds have the slugging duo of Joey Votto and Jay Bruce locked up long-term, and for as good as their pitching staff is, they aren't paying all that much for their staff.

    Their terrific bullpen is relatively inexpensive as well, led by left-hander Sean Marshall and re-signed closer Jonathan Broxton ($4 million), while Aroldis Chapman ($2 million) will transition to the rotation.

    All in all, the Reds have a complete team top to bottom, and they aren't really overpaying for anyone. Their rotation will get far more expensive moving forward, but for now they are getting terrific value out of their $102 million payroll.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. 1B Joey Votto: $17 million
    2. 2B Brandon Phillips: $10 million
    3. RF Jay Bruce: $7.5 million
    3. LF Ryan Ludwick: $7.5 million
    3. CF Shin-Soo Choo: $7.5 million (projected arbitration figure)
    6. SP Johnny Cueto: $7.4 million
    7. SP Bronson Arroyo: $6.5 million
    8. SP Homer Bailey: $5 million 
    9. RP Sean Marshall: $4.5 million
    10. SP Mat Latos: $4.2 million (projected arbitration figure) 

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    SS Zack Cozart, 3B Todd Frazier, RP J.J. Hoover

4. Washington Nationals (Payroll Rank: 12)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $117,040,500

     

    Overview

    The Nationals began their new era of spending by giving an ill-advised seven-year, $126 million deal to Jayson Werth in what appeared to be more of a statement move than anything.

    Since then, they have quickly assembled a roster, with a terrific mix of veterans and homegrown prospects, that can rival any in baseball on paper.

    Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper lead the homegrown group, and they'll continue to emerge as stars on the cheap for the next several seasons. 

    Adding Dan Haren for $13 million was a risky move, and signing Rafael Soriano to a two-year, $28 million deal may have been unnecessary, but with so much young talent and a chance to contend for a title, the moves don't look bad at all.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. RF Jayson Werth: $16 million
    2. 3B Ryan Zimmerman: $14 million 
    3. SP Dan Haren: $13 million
    4. 1B Adam LaRoche: $10 million 
    5. CP Rafael Soriano: $7 million
    6. C Kurt Suzuki: $6.25 million 
    7. CF Denard Span: $4.75 million
    8. SP Gio Gonzalez: $4.7 million 
    9. RP Tyler Clippard: $4 million |
    10. SP Stephen Strasburg: $3.9 million (pre-arbitration)

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    C Wilson Ramos, 2B Danny Espinosa, IF/OF Tyler Moore, IF/OF Stephen Lombardozzi, RP Ryan Mattheus, RP Henry Rodriguez

3. Atlanta Braves (Payroll Rank: 17)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $93,514,500

     

    Overview

    The Braves have over half of their payroll ($56.2 million) tied up in their five highest-paid players, and while it's debatable whether any of them outside of Justin Upton are worth what they're set to make in 2013, there are plenty of bargains beyond those guys.

    The bullpen, which is one of the best in baseball, comes at a great price as the trio of Craig Kimbrel, Jordan Walden and Jonny Venters will make under $3 million combined this coming season.

    Jason Heyward will only get pricier moving forward but is still a steal in his first year of arbitration, while Freddie Freeman will be eligible for the first time next season. 

    All in all, for as complete a roster as they have top to bottom, it's impressive the Braves have managed to keep their payroll under $100 million.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. 2B Dan Uggla: $13 million
    2. CF B.J. Upton: $12.45 million
    3. C Brian McCann: $12 million
    4. LF Justin Upton: $9.75 million
    5. SP Tim Hudson: $9 million
    6. SP Paul Maholm: $6.5 million
    7. RP Eric O'Flaherty: $4.32 million
    8. RF Jason Heyward: $3.65 million
    9. SP Kris Medlen: $2.6 million
    10. 3B Chris Johnson: $2.287.5 million

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    1B Freddie Freeman, SS Andrelton Simmons, SP Mike Minor, SP Julio Teheran, RP Craig Kimbrel, RP Jordan Walden

2. Tampa Bay Rays (Payroll Rank: 27)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $68,150,500

     

    Overview

    The Rays have been great at making the most out of their low payroll the past several seasons, but the fact remains that they don't have the flexibility of their fellow AL East foes.

    That could mean trading Cy Young winner David Price at some point, as he earned a whopping $10.1 million in his second year of arbitration after making $4.35 million last season.

    Still, there are bargains up and down the roster beyond him, starting with Evan Longoria ($6 million) and Ben Zobrist ($5.5 million).

    The team has already locked up young starter Matt Moore on a team-friendly deal and could look to do the same with Jeremy Hellickson this coming season after trading James Shields. Speaking of Shields, expect newly-acquired prospect Wil Myers to be making a serious impact by midseason while making the minimum.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. SP David Price: $10.1125 million
    2. 3B Evan Longoria: $6 million
    3. RF Ben Zobrist: $5.5 million
    4. SS Yunel Escobar: $5 million
    5. DH Luke Scott: $4 million
    6. RP Roberto Hernandez: $3.25 million
    7. 2B Kelly Johnson: $3 million
    7. SP Jeff Niemann: $3 million
    7. RP Joel Peralta: $3 million
    10. UT Ryan Roberts: $2.95 million

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    CF Desmond Jennings, RF Wil Myers, SP Jeremy Hellickson, SP Alex Cobb, RP Jake McGee, RP Cesar Ramos

1. Oakland Athletics (Payroll Rank: 28)

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    Projected 2013 Payroll: $64,662,000

     

    Overview

    The A's don't have a player making over $10 million, yet they have a real shot at repeating as AL West champions with essentially the same team returning aside from the departed Jonny Gomes and Brandon McCarthy and newly signed Hiroyuki Nakajima.

    Last season, the team got major contributions from bargain-priced journeymen like Brandon Moss and Bartolo Colon as well as a number of youngsters.

    Aside from Brett Anderson and Colon, all of the team's starting pitchers will be making the league minimum this coming season, and Jarrod Parker, Tom Milone, A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily all have the potential to be impact arms.

    Whether they are able to repeat will depend greatly on how well the aforementioned guys can once again perform, but on paper, the A's look like a major boom-for-buck group at a total of $64 million.

     

    Top 10 Highest Paid

    1. OF Yoenis Cespedes: $8.5 million
    1. OF Chris Young: $8.5 million
    3. CF Coco Crisp: $7 million
    4. SP Brett Anderson: $5.75 million 
    5. CP Grant Balfour: $4.5 million 
    6. DH Seth Smith: $3.675 million
    7. SP Bartolo Colon: $3 million 
    8. SS Hiroyuki Nakajima: $2.25 million 
    9. C John Jaso: $1.8 million 
    10. 1B Brandon Moss: $1.6 million

     

    Key Pre-Arbitration Players

    C Derek Norris, 1B Chris Carter, 2B Scott Sizemore, 3B Josh Donaldson, RF Josh Reddick, SP Jarrod Parker, SP Tom Milone, SP A.J. Griffin, SP Daniel Straily, RP Ryan Cook, RP Sean Doolittle, RP Jordan Norberto 

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