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Most Surprising Outcomes in Forbes' 2013 MLB Team Valuations

Doug MeadCorrespondent IMarch 27, 2013

Most Surprising Outcomes in Forbes' 2013 MLB Team Valuations

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    On Tuesday, Forbes Magazine released its 2013 MLB team valuations report, an annual look at each team's overall worth.

    Forbes uses a variety of factors to give an accurate accounting of each team's value, including operating expenses, revenue, broadcasting fees and value related to MLB Advanced Media.

    The top five teams—the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies—aren't much of a surprise; they've typically been at or near the top for several years.

    However, other teams could certainly qualify as surprises, as the outcomes may seem contradictory to the teams' current state of financial affairs and other factors.

    Here is a look at some of those surprising outcomes.

New York Mets

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    According to Forbes, the New York Mets finished just outside the top five. Valued at $811 million, at first glance the Mets would appear to be on sound financial footing.

    But as Forbes pointed out, the Mets refinanced a loan in moneys borrowed against SportsNet New York, of which the Mets own a 65-percent share. The transaction was finalized at the end of last year and presumably will help in taking care of day-to-day operations.

    Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz got caught in the middle of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme and were forced to settle with a trustee of Madoff's fraud victims early last year.

    Team payroll has also dropped significantly. In 2009, according to USA Today's MLB salary database, the Mets' Opening Day payroll was $149.4 million, the second-highest in the league.

    In 2012, the Mets paid out $93.4 million in salaries.

    The Mets also took on 12 minority investors early last year who each paid $20 million to claim a small stake in the club.

    It's understandable that the Mets are valued so highly considering they're located in the No. 1 market in the country. But with all of their recent struggles, it's still a bit of a surprise to see them at No. 6 on Forbes' list.

Houston Astros

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    The Houston Astros weigh in at No. 16 on the list.

    Houston's team payroll this year will be the lowest in MLB since the Florida Marlins paid out just under $15 million in 2006.

    The new television deal the Astros signed with Comcast SportsNet Houston, which pays the Astros an average of $80 million annually for the next 20 years, could cover their payroll almost four times over in 2013 alone.

    The Astros may look like a minor league team on the field, but they're up among the big boys in terms of value for sure.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    The Milwaukee Brewers came in at No. 22. While it's not altogether shocking based on the team's current market and its lousy television rights deal, its placement on the list belies the owner's modus operandi.

    Mark Attanasio has shown over the years that he's not afraid to do what it takes to make upgrades to his team.

    It seemed that might change this past offseason, however.

    The Brewers appeared to be cutting payroll substantially this season, largely because of sagging attendance at Miller Park and its paltry TV deal.

    Consider this fact—according to FanGraphs.com, the Brewers were paid $12 million for local broadcasting rights in 2012. In contrast, the Los Angeles Dodgers will be paid between $240-$280 million each year starting in 2014.

    However, despite the assertion that payroll was going to be slashed, Attanasio swooped in and signed free-agent pitcher Kyle Lohse to a three-year, $33 million deal on Monday.

    Numbers and valuations be damned—Attanasio wants to win, and he's not afraid to go against conventional wisdom to get it done.

Cincinnati Reds

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    I have to admit that seeing the Cincinnati Reds ranked as only the 24th highest team on Forbes' list was a bit surprising.

    The longest-running franchise in MLB is among the lowest seven teams in baseball in terms of team valuation.

    However, its television market ranking among metropolitan areas is at No. 34, just a tick above Milwaukee.

    Cincinnati has won the NL Central Division in two of the past three seasons and is a favorite to do so again in 2013.

    It just goes to show that a team's perceived value has nothing to do with overall performance.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Speaking of perceived team values and overall performance, the Tampa Bay Rays come in dead last on the Forbes' list, yet they've made the playoffs in four of the past six seasons and the World Series in 2008.

    The Rays had the worst home attendance in the American League last year and were second-to-last the year before. Their team payroll is in the bottom quarter virtually every year.

    Yet through a terrific farm system that's envied by most teams, the Rays have been contenders each and every year since 2008.

    That's a complete smack in the face to a top-five-valued team like the Chicago Cubs, who haven't even sniffed the playoffs since 2008.

     

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.

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