2014 MLB Team Valuations Released by Forbes

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2014

AP Images

Even as the landscape of Major League Baseball continues to change, some things remain constant, such as the New York Yankees remaining the league's richest franchise, according to Forbes.

Mike Ozanian of Forbes reports the Yankees are at the top of the heap for the 17th straight year with an overall value of $2.5 billion. That also makes the Yanks the most valuable team in American sports ahead of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys at $2.3 billion.   

The Yankees are far from the only MLB team on the upswing, however, as the average team is now worth $811 million. That is a nine percent increase from just one year ago, per Ozanian.

Here is a closer look at where every MLB team stands in terms of valuation heading into the 2014 season.

Tier 1
RankTeamCurrent Value1-Year ChangeRevenueOperating Income
1New York Yankees$2.5 billion9%$461 million-$9.1 million
2Los Angeles Dodgers$2 billion24%$293 million-$80.9 million
3Boston Red Sox$1.5 billion14%$357 million$25.3 million
4Chicago Cubs$1.2 billion20%$266 million$27.3 million
5San Francisco Giants$1 billion27%$316 million$53.3 million
Forbes.com

Darren Rovell of ESPN also passed along each club's Opening Day payroll:

The top tier of MLB's most valuable franchises features five of the most famous organizations in the history of baseball. The Yankees may top them all, but the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants are all worth at least $1 billion as well.

Although the Yankees sold their controlling stake in YES Network to News Corporation, per Ozanian, their existing stake is a huge part of the organization's revenue.

The Dodgers bring in huge television revenue as well thanks to a deal with Time Warner Cable. While L.A. still trails New York by $500 million in terms of overall value, the Dodgers now have the highest payroll in baseball, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com) and are considered the favorite to win the 2014 World Series.

Tier 2
RankTeamCurrent Value1-Year ChangeRevenueOperating Income
6Philadelphia Phillies$975 million9%$265 million-$20.9 million
7Texas Rangers$825 million8%$257 million-$4.9 million
8St. Louis Cardinals$820 million15%$283 million$65.2 million
9New York Mets$800 million-1%$238 million$1.6 million
10Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim$775 million8%$253 million$5.8 million
Forbes.com

The following tier contains some marquee clubs as well, including World Series contenders such as the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals. Perhaps the most interesting organization in the group, though, is that of the New York Mets.

Despite the New York market, the Mets were one of just three organizations to drop in value over the past year, as they took a one percent hit. Ozanian blames the dip largely on the aftermath of the Bernie Madoff scandal as well as a precipitous drop in attendance.

Tier 3
RankTeamCurrent Value1-Year ChangeRevenueOperating Income
11Atlanta Braves$730 million16%$253 million$38.4 million
12Seattle Mariners$710 million10%$210 million$5.3 million
13Washington Nationals$700 million11%$244 million$22.4 million
14Chicago White Sox$695 million0%$210 million-$2.7 million
15Detroit Tigers$680 million6%$262 million$7.5 million
Forbes.com

The Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals and Detroit Tigers are three teams that figure to use their strong valuations toward on-field success in 2014. All of them could potentially challenge for a championship, but the Seattle Mariners are the talk of the third tier.

There is a great deal of hype surrounding the M's after the signing of superstar second baseman Robinson Cano this offseason, but they coupled that with a new $2.5 billion television deal, according to Ozanian. That means their continued growth should be sustainable.

Tier 4
RankTeamCurrent Value1-Year ChangeRevenueOperating Income
16Baltimore Orioles$620 million0%$198 million$1.6 million
17San Diego Padres$615 million2%$207 million$33 million
18Toronto Blue Jays$610 million7%$218 million-$14.9 million
19Minnesota Twins$605 million5%$221 million$30.2 million
20Cincinnati Reds$600 million10%$209 million-$11.6 million
Forbes.com

The next tier is occupied by many of the league's middling teams, including the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto went for the gusto last season when it made big acquisitions such as shortstop Jose Reyes and pitchers Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey.

They didn't work out, as the Jays finished last in the American League East, and all MLB's only Canadian team has to show for it is an operating income loss of $14.9 million.

Tier 5
RankTeamCurrent Value1-Year ChangeRevenueOperating Income
21Arizona Diamondbacks$585 million0%$192 million-$5.8 million
22Colorado Rockies$575 million7%$197 million$13.7 million
23Pittsburgh Pirates$572 million19%$204 million$21.8 million
24Cleveland Indians$570 million2%$196 million-$1.9 million
25Milwaukee Brewers$565 million1%$197 million$6.8 million
Forbes.com

Many blue-collar cities rest in the league's second-to-last tier, including a true comeback story in the form of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Bucs reached the playoffs last year for the first time since 1992, which sparked an organizational revival of sorts.

The Pirates experienced the fourth-largest change in valuation with an increase of 19 percent. Pittsburgh will have to continue to put a winning product on the field to bolster that number, but it is encouraging considering the fact that the Pirates were a moribund franchise previously.

Tier 6
RankTeamCurrent Value1-Year ChangeRevenueOperating Income
26Houston Astros$530 million-15%$186 million$55.9 million
27Miami Marlins$500 million-4%$159 million-$8 million
28Oakland Athletics$495 million6%$187 million$27.4 million
29Kansas City Royals$490 million7%$178 million-$6.5 million
30Tampa Bay Rays$485 million8%$181 million$15.3 million
Forbes.com

As expected, the bottom tier features many of the league's bottom feeders. That includes the Miami Marlins and Houston Astros, which both experienced a drop in value over the past year.

The Astros had the biggest drop with a 15 percent loss, which had much to do with Comcast SportsNet Houston filing for bankruptcy, according to Ozanian.

A low value doesn't necessarily mean a poor record, though, as the Oakland Athletics have proven for more than a decade. General manager Billy Beane led the A's to their second consecutive AL West title in 2013, and they look to be playoff contenders once again in 2014.

While these valuations are great from a bottom-line perspective, they simply aren't accurate reflections of on-field success. The Yankees missed the playoffs last season, and while they could very well rebound after an offseason spending spree, there are no guarantees.

It can be argued that the Athletics have an equal or greater chance at winning the World Series when compared to the Yanks, and that is truly the beauty of baseball.

 

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