The Associated Press, which somehow seems to have gained a direct pipeline to major-league contracts over the years, has come out with its annual payroll analysis, and they peg the Mariners at $98,904,167 for 2009. That’s down $19.1 million from last year, when AP had the Mariners at $117,993,982.
Interestingly, The Mariners’ ranking only went down one spot, from ninth overall in 2008 to 10th this year. The top 10 last year was the Yankees ($209.1 million), Tigers ($138.7 million), Mets ($138.3 million), Red Sox ($133.4 million), White Sox ($121.2 million), Angels ($119.2 million), Cubs ($118.6 million), Dodgers ($118.5 million), Mariners ($117.9 million) and Braves ($102.4 million).
The top 10 this year are the Yankees ($201.4 million), Mets ($135.7 million), Cubs ($135.0 million), Red Sox ($122.6 million), Tigers ($115.0 million), Angels ($113.7 million), Phillies ($113.0 million), Astros ($102.9 million), Dodgers ($100.4 million) and Mariners ($98.9 million).
This news won’t come as a shock, because we’ve been writing all winter that their payroll was going to fall into this neighborhood. According to the AP analysis, payrolls declined cumulatively by $47 million — 1.7 percent, the first decline since 2004 and just the second since the 1994-95 strike. Sixteen of 30 teams cut payroll. Again, no shocker considering the recession and the notable drop that free agents seemed to be experiencing as the winter dragged on.
I think the upshot is that even with the decline, the Mariners still have a very healthy payroll — more than enough to win with, if spent wisely. And too often, under the previous regime, it wasn’t.