Dollars and sense: What is the right payroll for the Orioles?

A few quick thoughts while wondering if Alex Rodriguez still thinks everyone is out to get him.

Let’s look at some payroll math and see which American League East team was most efficient with its spending in 2013.

Here were opening day payrolls for each team last year and the wins that money produced:

Orioles at $92.2 million for 85 wins
Red Sox at $154.5 million for 97 wins
Rays at $61.9 million for 92 wins
Yankees at $228.1 million for 85 wins
Blue Jays at $119.3 million for 74 wins

Here is how much each team paid per win in 2013:
* Yankees - $2.7 million
* Red Sox - $1.6 million
* Blue Jays - $1.6 million
* Orioles $1.1 million
* Rays - $672,800

This is pretty simplistic and I didn’t want to wear out my calculator. You don’t get a prize for being the most efficient with your dollars, but it’s likely no surprise that Tampa Bay ranks first here. They do more with less than most.

This brings us to the topic of money, something that comes up here almost daily. I think most fans are pretty reasonable when talking about the club’s payroll and they don’t knock the Orioles for not spending more. Of course, there are always some fans that believe that the club is more interested in profits than wins and you can’t change their minds on that.

So what do you think is a reasonable payroll for the Orioles in 2014? Should it be $100 million? Maybe $110 or $120 million? Maybe you think more than that.

It is easy to correlate spending with wins, but there are just too many examples about that not being close to true. Ask the Los Angeles Angels. Look at the clubs that have signed players to huge contracts and regretted them long before the deal was out.

The Orioles have reached a point in time where they potentially see a bit of a budget squeeze when they think about signing players like Chris Davis and Matt Wieters to long-term deals, while also handing out big arbitration raises to some and hopefully having enough left to add some new talent. When they look down the road, they’ll have to pay Manny Machado some big dollars at some point. projected the Orioles will pay out about $40 to $42 million to players like Jim Johnson, Davis and Wieters in arbitration. They have Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, Wei-Yin Chen and Darren O’Day already on the books next year for about $44 million. There is another group of players that will likely have their contracts renewed for a salary at or close to the major league minimum. This group, which includes players like Chris Tillman, Machado, Miguel Gonzalez, T.J. McFarland and several others, will probably add another $4 million or so to put the club at around $90 million before they add or extend anyone.

So what is your take on the O’s payroll? How many dollars make sense? Nice play on words, but also a very good question to ask and hopefully a lot of you debate this topic here today.

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