The major difference in spending between the Sox and Yanks

The Yankees' defensive improvement since 2008
The RAB Radio Show: January 10, 2011

To date this winter, the Yankees have spent $12 million on other teams’ free agents. That covers just two players, Russell Martin at $4 million and Pedro Feliciano at $8 million. The Red Sox have spent just a little bit more, $157 million on Carl Crawford, Bobby Jenks, and Dan Wheeler. It made me wonder how the teams have approached the free agent market during the last five years. We know the Yanks have spent more in general, but how much more than the Sox have they spent?

That’s where we get this little spreadsheet, which covers each team’s free agent outlays during the last five years. That is, from the winter following the 2006 season through the current off-season. You can click for a larger version.

It does seem a bit surprising that the Yankees have spent just $33.9 million more in free agency than the Sox. While fans and the media perpetually accuse the Yankees of buying their teams, the Red Sox aren’t that far behind in spending on other teams’ talent. The difference, as is made clear, comes from how each team handles its own free agents.

In those five years the Yankees have spent $477.5 million more on retaining its own free agents as the Red Sox. True, the Sox never had a Rivera, or a Jeter, or an A-Rod reach free agency, so the situations aren’t exactly comparable. The point, I think, is that much of the Yankees’ spending goes to towards retaining the players on their roster.

No one is trying to deny the Yankees’ monetary advantage. They can do things that other teams cannot. But it’s not as though they’re poaching other rosters. One winter they went nuts and spent $423.5 million on free agents — or 89 percent of their total free agency outlay over the last five years. For the most part, the Yankees use their most abundant resource as a tool to retain their own players. Most other teams don’t have that luxury.

NOTE: I forgot Kei Igawa on the Yanks’ side of the table. But I also didn’t include the posting fee for Matsuzaka. Mike and I tackled this issue on the podcast.

The Yankees' defensive improvement since 2008
The RAB Radio Show: January 10, 2011
  • Bulldozer

    Gosh, I hate the Sox.

  • CS Yankee

    Add in the April 4th, 2011 signing of their new 1B…bam, that 33.9M$ will more than go away.

    Good post.

    • Tom Zig

      Since Gonzalez was traded for and will have played a season under contract for the sox, that will just go under the “Sox’s own player” category. We still dwarf them in that category, A-Gonz or not.

      • Big Apple

        not if that extension is signed before he becomes an FA…

        • Big Apple

          pay no attention to my previous post…act like it never happened.

  • Jamie

    Does anyone have a link to the updated 2011 payrolls of each team? I know Cot’s has all the information on salaries, but is there an updated list for the coming season anywhere on there? I can’t seem to find it. Thanks in advance

  • Bulldozer

    The one positive from the new CBA, for me, will be the FA compensation system. I feel like Boston would rather lose a homegrown player if it meant gaining draft picks.

    • Rob

      Yeah, they play the system well. They sign Crawford and trade for AGon, but get 2 1sts and 2 Supplementsl #1’s for losing Beltre and VMartinez, thus netting 3 high picks with no loss in talent.

      I’m not big into revenue sharing for several reasons, but this is an area where the smaller market teams deserve help. Maybe you can’t get compensation picks if you sign a Type A free agent or something?

  • Hatfield

    “In fact, only two of the players on the Yankees’ retention list didn’t come up through the Yankees’s system. They also represent the two lowest outlays.”
    Does that mean this Alex Rodriguez fellow came up with the Yanks?

    • Joe Pawlikowski

      Yeah, botched on my part. But now fixed.

  • OldYanksFan

    Yup… well said.
    Yankee fans are lucky that the Yankees are concerned with their history, legacy and the fans.
    It’s obvious that the recent Jeter contract was not based on future production. ARod’s contract is based on hoping he gets the HR record, and that there is no doubt he wears a Yankees Cap in the HOF. To a lesser extent, Mo and Po’s contracts had a lot of ‘we’re not going to let you walk’ built into them.

    So yes, a lot of the Yankees money is NOT spent on simply trying to Win. And as fans, we are very lucky that many Yankee stars are kept on the team their entire career.

    Sox fans are so concerned with beating us, that they forget that on any given year, they can’t recognize half the players on their team.

    Mo Vaugn, Nomar, Manny, Fred Lynn, Pedro, Pudge Fisk…. they have said goodbye to many iconic players. While they may have been good moves in terms of competing per $$ spent, shit…. I’m glad I’m not a Sox fan.

    • Ed

      To a lesser extent, Mo and Po’s contracts had a lot of ‘we’re not going to let you walk’ built into them.

      Not really. Both were market rate.

      Mo’s ’10 contract was clearly market rate, as we learned the Red Sox offered him similar dollars. His previous few contracts were a little above the current record for a closer, which seems fair considering who he is.

      Posada’s contract boiled down to the Mets made a hard play for him, the Yankees believed that he’d switch teams, and every other available catcher sucked. The dollar value seemed fair considering he was an elite catcher coming off the best year of his career. The Mets got him the last year.

  • Thomas

    The other major spending difference between the teams is extensions before the player is a FA. The Sox have given extensions to Youkilis, Ortiz, Pedroia, and Lester (and possibly others) to lock up the players cheaply before they hit free agency. The Yankees do not do this practice with the exception of Cano.

    For the five players listed above the Sox have outspent the Yankees $163M to $30M (not including options).

    • Ed

      Who exactly would the Yankees give those contracts to? In recent years the only young players I can think of to sign long term were Cano, Wang, and Melky.

      Cano they signed.

      They held off on Wang because he had a history of shoulder issues. Smart move.

      Melky they traded away, but I doubt he would have gotten an extension, nor did he deserve one.

      Hughes and Joba are reaching a point to consider extensions.

      Gardner’s still too early.

      • Thomas

        The Yankees could have given an extension to Jeter, Posada, etc. before they reached FA (like the Sox did with Ortiz). This contract would not have been taken into account by the table above.

        I am not saying they should have signed a player, whether an established veteran or an up-and-coming young player, to one of those contract. I was simply saying the Red Sox have spent a very significant amount on those contracts (while the Yankees have not) and they should also be taken into consideration.

        • Ed

          Ah ok, sorry. I see what you mean now. I read your comment as the usual “Yankees don’t sign young players longterm” argument.

          But yeah, you’re right, the Yankees spend more on their own free agents because of their no extension policy.

        • Dave

          Jeter most certainly was locked up in a 10-year contract back in 2000. Jeter’s first experience as a FA was, in fact, this winter.

  • Mister Delaware

    “Most other teams don’t have that luxury.”

    Until we see some audited books, I’d be more comfortable saying “most other teams don’t spend this way.”

  • Joseph Cecala

    This goes against everything the MSM has teached me with their infinite wisdom. I feel used

  • UncleArgyle

    I’ve been saying for a while, The only difference in spending between the Yankees and Sox is that Sox are able to dupe players aleady on their rosters into signing contracts significantly below market value, while the Yankees always get bent over a barrel and have to pay an additonal premium to keep their own players. Have to give credit to Theo and the rest of the management. Despite having a billonaire owner and absurd revenue, the Sox usually convince players (and agents) that they’re this tiny small market club with limited payroll flexibility. Its actually pretty amazing.

    • Joe

      I think it’s a little bit of a stretch to say the “Yankees get bent over a barrel”. To a degree they bring it upon themselves with irresponsible contracts, and bidding against themselves at times

      • UncleArgyle

        Maybe that term is a little harsh, but you never see any existing Yankee give an inch when it comes to contracts. Jeter, Posada, ARod, Mo, Pettite, all played hardball until they got top dollar and as many years as possible. While on the other hand you have Varitek, Wakefield, Lowell, Arroyo etc, leaving tons of money on the table so they can stay in Boston.

        • Joe

          I also want to clarify, the reason their negotiations often seem to require a little something more, is the poor contstruction of the farm system up until a few years ago, as well as downright poor business decisions. Essentially I’m suggesting a developed farm system will allow them some leverage. As well as Hal, who seems to be a bit more of a business man, and willing to say no to certain deals.

        • AndrewYF

          “Jeter, Posada, ARod, Mo, Pettite”
          “Varitek, Wakefield, Lowell, Arroyo”

          Gosh, I wonder why one of these groups is paid so much more than the other one.

          • Joe

            One is better, much, much better? That however, doesn’t seperate the Yankees from where they draw a line

      • Mister Delaware

        Not to mention, our homegrown core has already been through 2 or 3 free agency buyouts by now. Theirs (Lester, Pedroia, Youkilis) had extensions that covered part of their arbitration years. When the situations are reversed, like if you compare Beckett (post arb) to Cano (still in arb), the much higher AAV is on the Boston side.

    • AndrewYF

      “Sox are able to dupe players aleady on their rosters into signing contracts significantly below market value”

      You can’t blame the players for that, Dustin Pedroia just wanted to have a salary commensurate with his shoe size.

      • Big Apple

        +1..that little elf should be makng toys, not playing pro ball

    • Big Apple

      i think that ended last year though with the deal for Beckett. What happens when you start paying every tom and dick $15MM? well, Harry also wants $15MM. Once they signed Lackey, they needed to sign Beckett for more. AGonz is going to want at least as much as Crawford. When Pedroia, Lester et al hit the FA market they are going to want that much.

      I’m glad the sox owners finally started writing the checks so the whining will stop…or at least it should.

      But once they did, they set a precendent for future deals.

  • Klemy

    If we had gotten Cliff Lee though, this comparison would’ve largely shifted back to us. It ends up this way, only because we missed our big free agent acquisition, for what that’s worth.

    • Klemy

      Obviously, this doesn’t change the fact that the numbers are what they are, but let’s not forget that we did try to outspend them by another $160 million+ just a few weeks ago.

    • The Fallen Phoenix

      And the Red Sox missed on their big free agent acquisition back in 2009 (Mark Teixeira), so it cuts both ways.

      • Mister Delaware

        Good point, shift Teix from our column to theirs and they double us up $600MM to $300MM.

        (Of course, Teix definitely means no Beltre and probably means either no Lackey or no Crawford but who cares about common sense, right? They would have us doubled!!!)

  • swo

    No love for Kei Igawa? :-P
    Of course, the amount spent on that contract is offset by the respective teams’ posting fees.

    Regardless, I can’t help but feel that Red Sox ownership is really pushing it with their fanbase. Yes, they sell out every home game, and basic economics says to jack up the prices until that streak is ended, but how long are they going to continue being so sanctimonious about payroll? Eventually the fans have to get irritated by their steadily rising ticket prices, don’t they?

    • AndrewYF

      How are they being sanctimonious about payroll? They just shelled out $16M each for Beckett and Lackey, and will be shelling out $20M for Carl Crawford for the next 7 years (god that’s terrible). And don’t forget the $20M they’ll be giving A-Gonz for the next 8.

      • Rick in Boston

        I think he’s referring to the comments that John Henry makes about the Sox being a medium market club and unable to spend like the Yankees.

        • Mister Delaware

          Sure, but its pretty obvious that’s narrative, not execution. I can say I can’t afford a house as nice as you but if I’m moving in next door, the truth is pretty clear.

      • Mister Delaware

        Last season that might apply (although the sellout streak is still technically alive, there were definitely open seats at the park and its pretty debateable whether the sellouts remained legit) although it seemed like the logical fans realized you can’t really do anything about major injury after major injury. Right now, fans are anything but irritated. If you could add 15,000 seats to Fenway tomorrow you’d sell them out for as long as they contend in 2011 and beyond.

  • Big Apple

    great point…the off season has been quiet because that’s the way it should be. if the right guys aren’t available, then don’t make the trades or spend the money. everyone is just used to the old way where George would make deals to make deals and pillage the farm system in the process.

    I don’t put a lot of weight on prospects b/c most of them don’t work out, but the yanks farm system is in the best shape it has been in for a long time. and its no secret why…once Cashman took over the crazy deals just stopped.

    • Tom Swift

      A GM should be credited for the bad deals he does not make, as well as the good ones he makes. It is a frustrating offseason for Yankee fans, but Cashman so far has avoided making a reflexive bad deal just for the sake of doing something. Good for him.

      • Big Apple

        i dont’ understand all of the frustration…beside Lee, who else was worth obtaining that was needed and worth the money?

        at some point, the yanks neeeded to have an off season like this. they need to get younger and get some use out of the farm system.

        • OldYanksFan

          I agree. Aside from Lee and maybe a LOOGY (which they got), I don’t think the Yankees were ‘zoned in’ on anyone in particular, and just looking around for possible RPs and Bench help.

          I don’t think the Yanks had any intentions of getting Carl or Werth… even at a $15m/yr cost. At $20m/yr for Crawford, I think Cashman would have just laughed.

  • bakekrukow412

    When the heck did the Red Six have Joel Pineiro?

    • bakekrukow412


  • Avi

    From 2000-2010 the Yanks have outspent the next highest spender from $50MM – $80MM per season. Even if the Yanks take their 2011 payroll to $210MM (they’d had to add about $30MM in payroll) they’ll still be only about $30MM more than Boston and the Phillies. Are these teams closing the spending advantage gap or could the Yanks take their payroll to $230MM should the opportunity present itself?

    • Thomas

      Since the Yankees were willing to give $13M to Pettitte and $25M to Lee for next season, I think they are willing to take they’re payroll to $230M if the situation presents itself.

      • Avi

        Good point.
        Correction: The margin wasn’t $50M to $80M till ’03.

    • 28 this year

      Many have suggested that the Yankees are trying to keep spending in some sort of check for the CBA negotiations. Right now, people can’t really complain (even though they do) that the Yankees are far away the biggest spenders cause this chart with an addition of the contracts the Red Sox have give out as extensions, the spending isn’ that far apart. And if any team can be dubbed having an expensive rotation, it would be the Phillies. Frankly, the Yankees have put themselves in a good position to really take the fruits of this farm and keep them for years to come if they work out. While this year may suffer (like OMG! only 90 wins!!), the Yankees have a good long term outlook in terms of being the only big spender to truly be able to expand payroll way being what it currently is.

  • Mr. Sparkle

    Who cares? It’s not how much you spend anyway…it’s how you spend it. You could buy the highest price free agent at every position and it won’t guarantee either a pennant nor a winning record. That to me is the whole crux of the argument when it comes to spending. Show me all the salaries, I don’t care. The only numbers that matter are those in the Win-Loss column at the end of the season.

    • Big Apple

      right…but what this post is saying is that all along the yanks have been the subject of the overspending in baseball when in fact, a few teams are right near them.

      i, for one, would love to see another team take over the highest payroll title for a few years…would be nice to see the yanks win a few with a lower payroll to shut up these idiots.

      the value conversations are always interesting but never amount to much b/c there is no cap.

      but look at left field….Grit is not Carl Crawford, but my God, the salary difference is immense…its $20MM to $4.MM…a diff of $19.6MM…i don’t think that disparity exists in any other position when comparing the two teams. looking at the stats, Crawford brings power but both play great D, get on base and steal bases…

      • Jerome S.

        Gardner’s OBP >>>>>>>>>>> Crawfords.

        That’s gonna be some long-term value.

      • Mr. Sparkle

        I do realize that and I’m always glad when someone attacks the premise perpetuated by the media that the Yankees are the ONLY team that spends money.

        However, the better argument is not to compare salaries in a spreadsheet, but rather point out teams like the 1992 Mets (the golden example) who spent a ton of money on free agents while ignoring the fact that they spent their money poorly.

        It’s the one thing I will ever appreciate about the Mets because they’ve not only supplied the eternal example that spending means nothing, but also that there’s no need for a salary cap as long as there are bad GMs with a large sum of money to spend. That’s the true equalizer.

        I’ve found that when you show the Yankee haters the facts (as in the spreadsheet format), they’ll ignore them every time. They simply can’t discount the 1992 Mets argument because the only way to explain it is that they had a lot of money to spend and made some awful decisions on how to spend it. It can happen to any team at any time. It might even happen with the 2011 Red Sox. That John Lackey money hasn’t panned out so far…what’s to say it will with Crawford?

        I personally don’t care if the Yankees have the highest or lowest payroll in baseball. A championship is a championship, and the money focused detractors can’t take that away from me.

      • CS Yankee

        It may be alright not to have the highest payroll but it doesn’t bother me at all.

        They have over the last 15 years been in the top 5 teams talent wise going into every single season. This ability to take the pennant and possibly win the WS is what it is all about…look at all the different pennant & WS winners over the last decade and all you need to do is to get healthy & hot come October.

        The fact that they are younger, more athletic and focused far outweighs the 2003-2008 teams…the dollars don’t mean squat to me as I’ll pay a kings ransom to see them play & BTW, to see the Sox one would have to pay a two queens ransom.

        BTW, 50M$ or so more than the next team is about 2 beers worth per game from 3M attendance (big wow is what I tell my friends when heckled about this), much less when TV revenue is placed.

        Stay thirsty my friend!

        • Big Apple

          and the Yanks will always rule b/c there is no such thing as a “bridge year”!

  • ND Mike

    A-Rod’s contract still makes me throw up a little in my mouth every time I see it in black and white.

    • Big Apple

      me too…but you know what’s interesting…the two biggest deals that set off the free agent market were both not made by the yanks…

      that idiot hicks signed the arod deal and the dodgers $105MM deal for Kevin Brown…both ended up with the yanks b/c no other team can absorb that kind of money and still be profitable.

      • CS Yankee

        Idiots HOF…

        3) Theo’s posting fee & contract of Dice-BB.
        2) Hick’s signing Arod to TWICE what any stars contract was.
        1) Hank’s resigning of arod for 275-300M$ after the fact.

        Genius HOF…
        3) Phillies fleacing Haladay for only a 3 year contract.
        2) Cashman getting Swish for a backup MIF.
        1) Ray’s GM to get Longoria to sign that shitty contract.

        • Big Apple

          where does the igawa deal fit here..IMO..that is the worst contract ever made b/c it never should’ve happened…I’ll raise your japanese junk with a piece of japanese poop