Nats' opening day payroll down for first time since 2007

ATLANTA - For the first time in nine years, and for only the second time in club history, the Nationals' opening day payroll is down from the previous season.

The Nationals' current roster (the 25 active players, plus those on the major league disabled list) is earning a combined $141,652,646 this season, ranking 11th in baseball, according to figures calculated by USA Today in its annual salary survey).

That's down nearly $25 million from last year's opening day payroll, which ranked sixth in the majors.

This is the first time the Nationals have reduced payroll year-over-year since 2007, the first full season played under ownership of the Lerner family. That year's payroll of $37,347,500 paled in comparison to the current mark.

Payroll steadily rose each year since 2007, topping $100 million for the first time in 2013 and then peaking last season at $166,010,977. But with four high-profile free agents (Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann, Denard Span, Doug Fister) departing over the winter, the Nationals shed a fair bit of salary off the books.

Rizzo-Points-Presser-Sidebar.jpgThe reduced payroll could have a significant benefit later this summer: If general manager Mike Rizzo needs to fortify his roster at the trade deadline, he should have the financial flexibility to make deals for high-priced veterans. That wasn't the case a year ago, when Rizzo acquired closer Jonathan Papelbon only because the Phillies were willing to pay the remainder of his 2015 salary.

Here are the salaries of the Nationals' full opening day roster, as calculated by USA Today. (Deferred payments and incentive clauses are not included.)

RHP Max Scherzer: $22,142,857
OF Jayson Werth: $21,733,615
1B Ryan Zimmerman: $14,000,000
LHP Gio Gonzalez: $12,100,000
RHP Jonathan Papelbon: $10,936,574
RHP Stephen Strasburg: $10,400,000
2B Daniel Murphy: $8,000,000
OF Ben Revere: $6,250,000
C Wilson Ramos: $5,350,000
OF Bryce Harper: $5,000,000
RHP Shawn Kelley: $4,000,000
LHP Oliver Perez: $3,000,000
IF Stephen Drew: $3,000,000
SS Danny Espinosa: $2,875,000
3B Anthony Rendon: $2,800,000
RHP Yusmeiro Petit: $2,500,000
C Jose Lobaton: $1,387,500
OF Chris Heisey: $1,250,000
RHP Matt Belisle: $1,250,000
RHP Tanner Roark: $543,400
1B/OF Clint Robinson: $534,900
RHP Blake Treinen: $524,900
OF Michael A. Taylor: $524,000
RHP Aaron Barrett: $519,400*
LHP Felipe Rivero: $516,100
RHP Joe Ross: $514,400

* on 60-day DL

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