Good day friends, it’s your old pal BeefLoaf and I thought it might be about time we start taking a look at the White Sox payroll. As this rebuild lumbers along from fiery excitement at the start, to mundane plodding losing with only Palk Smashes worth of hope, to the girthy middle late period we are in now, where some good players are emerging, but still not enough to really consider this thing a success, I think it is prudent to look at some near term history and set up some expectations for a future White Sox team. I must warn you, there will be some numbers.
I pulled WA (or widely available) data as they might say from Spotrac and looked at the 2012-2018 seasons, as these are the seasons in which MLB has had 2 wild card teams from each league. I did this specifically, not only because it mirrors the current playoff environment that our heroes are in right now, but also because more recent years reflect similarities in payrolls due to a more oppressive luxury tax. Anywho, on with the findings……………..
FIRST….Our White Sox……
Over the period in question (2012-2018), our White Sox had an average payroll of 17% below league average. I will add a virtual asterisk to this, as during that period of time, the White Sox did spend $52M on Luis Robert, which was a very unusual international signee. His $$$ doesn’t show up in this data so because I am a charitable muthafucka, I decided to add it, and when I add that into the White Sox payrolls over this period, the Sox are still 10% below league average in payroll.
I know, I know some of you are out there saying, WAIT BEEF, the White Sox have been rebuilding, ergo suppressing payroll. Now, you don’t have to suppress payroll to rebuild. The counter argument could be made that you want to suppress payroll so as to have a lower quality team and shoot for a higher draft pick. That is one methodology, another would have you signing some free agents with hopes to move those players and help rebuild your team that way as well. There is more than one way to do it, so I won’t give them any explicit credit for that, especially since I gave them credit for Luis Robert. I will however take a look at the White Sox excluding 2017 & 2018, the rebuilding payrolls and they are still sitting at 10% below league average for the years 2012-2016. Hmmm……..
Doesn’t matter, now the White Sox are heading into the part of the rebuild where, as many of you have been mocking over the last 12 months “THE MONEY WILL BE SPENT“, let’s look at how playoff teams spend. Let’s look what it is going to take to be a team with sustained success.
The average playoff team (including the 4 wild cards each year) spent 16% above league average. If we use an average payroll from 2019 of $136M, which is probably our best guesstimate of what league average will look like going forward, a 16% above league average payroll is $158M. Here is a look at the years in which the White Sox have had a payroll of $158M or more in their history.
Now wait, some of you at home are saying the average number is currently skewed because the Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees and Giants were in the playoffs a bunch during this window and those are the big payroll teams. I don’t disagree, the average payroll may in fact be a skewed measure, but I wanted to put something out there that I thought was a fair representation. Going forward, the Red Sox / Yankees / Dodgers / Astros are all expected to still be good teams, at least for the next few years and they’ll all have the resources to run up to the ceiling of the luxury tax limit. But let’s for a second take a look at something different. What if I just take the bottom half of the playoff teams payrolls and average those together. That should surely remove the bias that pushes up the average for these big market teams. The bottom half of the playoff group from 2012-2018 had payrolls averaging 14% below league average. That’s right. A much more palatable number for White Sox fans. In 2019 numbers 14% below league average would be a payroll of $118M. In fact the 2011 White Sox had a payroll number that exceeded that.
The 2020 White Sox only have commitments of approximately $20M right now. This is before arb raises, so let’s assume $40M after that, give Jose Abreu $15M (generous) and we are sitting at $55M. The raise to $118M ($63M moar) in one off-season seems quite ambitious, but you just never know.
I know a few of the nearly dozens of people that will click on this blog post just for the gifs is saying “IDGAF about average playoff teams, or cheap playoff teams, I WANT ANOTHER WORLD SERIES”……
The average payroll of World Series winners in the 2 wild card era is a whopping 32% above league average, which based on 2019’s average payroll would be $181M, a ginormous payroll, in fact only the 2017 Astros ($139M) and the 2015 Royals ($127M) were below league average payrolls. It takes a lot of depth to win a World Series these days and that depth costs quite a bit.
Will the White Sox spend on par with some of these playoff teams of recent vintage? I have no idea, but I am hopeful that a new era of spending will take place in the not so distant future and that aggression in accumulating major league talent in all it’s various forms begins to take place. The AL is tough right now and the White Sox aren’t going to have it easy, even with what looks like a good young core coming of age.