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Arizona Diamondbacks 2017 Opening Day Payroll: $93.2 million

That’s down 4.2% on the same figure last year.

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The Associated Press has collated payroll figures for all 30 major-league teams, and has come up with Opening Day total. Over at Forbes, Maury Brown has done a good job of collating the numbers and comparing them with the same figures for 2016, to get an idea of who has changed. A few general points to note, from the two articles, before we get into any team-specific analysis:

  • The AP's figures include salaries and prorated shares of signing bonuses and other guaranteed income for players on active rosters and disabled lists... For some players (Zack Greinke), parts of deferred money are discounted to reflect current values.
  • This season is the first under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, with an increased Luxury Tax threshold of $195 million in 2017. The Dodgers, Tigers, and Yankees would break the thresholds right now; calculations at the end of the year include the 40-man roster, travel, and other expenses.
  • Average and median salaries decline over the course of the season as veterans are released and replaced by younger players making closer to the minimum.
  • The $4.51 million average salary for major leaguers on opening day was up 1.6 percent from last year's average of $4.38 million, the lowest rise since 2011.
  • The total of players making $1 million or more dropped to 487 from 492 last year and 508 in 2015, a sign some veteran bench players may have been replaced by lower-priced prospects.

The Diamondbacks rank 24th in the majors, with an Opening Day payroll projected at a new car short of $93.2 million. Though as noted above, that figure would appear not to include the $10 million in deferred salary owed to Greinke. Still, the same would apply to last year’s figure, and the overall trend is down: the 2016 number was $97.3 million, so we’re getting a decline of 4.2%, and have dropped three places in the overall standings. The departures of Welington Castillo and Jean Segura are largely responsible for the dip.

Though it’s worth noting the actual amount paid by the team may end up being higher, even without any changes in personnel over the season. That’s due to a significant amount of cash that could be awarded in incentives. Fernando Rodney, for example, could earn up to an additional $4 million, depending how many games he pitches and finishes [though if Sunday’s outing is anything to go by, we’re not likely to end up on the hook for the full amount...] When Gregor Blanco comes back onto the roster, he’ll be another one whose salary is not fixed, with up to $2.7 million of incentives on the table.

The study also puts in stark contrast the situation faced in the NL West, even if, unlike last year, the Diamondbacks will no longer be the lowest-spending team in the division. That’s only because the Padres slashed payroll by 40%, and are now all the way down at $61.4 million. And even there, $26.8 million of it is due to players who are no longer on the San Diego roster, mostly James Shields and Melvin Upton Jr. Here’s how the entire division stacks up in 2017:

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers: $225.6 million
  2. San Francisco Giants: $181.5 million
  3. Colorado Rockies: $127.9 million
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks: $93.2 million
  5. San Diego Padres: $61.4 million

That’s a total of $689.6 million being spent in the NL West, with Arizona responsible for only 13.5% of it, or less than one dollar in every seven. For even though the Dodgers have slashed payroll by $47 million over the last two years, they’re still the only team to crash through the $200 million barrier, and the Giants also finish in the top four across the majors. Interestingly, it’s the Rockies who post the biggest increase, both in percentage and absolute terms, up 13% and $14.7 million from their figure in 2016.