MLB Payroll Spending Declined by $18 Million in 2018; 1st Decrease Since 2010

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2019

Boston Red Sox's J.D. Martinez celebrates his solo home run as he crosses the plate in the second inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

With close attention being paid to the number of free agents still unsigned, Major League Baseball teams did something last season that hasn't happened since 2010. 

Per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com), the $4,227,041,948 combined payroll for all 30 teams in 2018 was a drop of $18 million from the previous season. 

It marked the first time in eight years that payroll spending went down from season to season and the largest decline since a $32 million drop from 2003-04. 

Yu Darvish (Chicago Cubs), Eric Hosmer (San Diego Padres) and J.D. Martinez (Boston Red Sox) were the only free agents to receive deals over $100 million last offseason. All three of them went unsigned until February, with Hosmer and Martinez signing after spring training began. 

As of Jan. 4, Jon Tayler of Sports Illustrated noted there remain over 200 free agents still unsigned, with only eight of the approximately 50 players who received major league deals getting at least three guaranteed years.  

Per Spotrac, the Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants were the only teams that spent over $200 million. The last time fewer than three teams spent $200 million in player salary was 2015. 

Per The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh, teams spent half as much money on free agents during the offseason ($600 million) as they did in the winter of 2016 ($1.2 billion).

Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, the top two prizes in free agency this offseason, remain unsigned. Their potential deals could lead to an increase in total MLB payroll next season. 

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