Nats' opening day payroll ranks fourth in majors

CINCINNATI - The precise figure varies depending on your preferred method of calculation, but here's one fact that holds true no matter the math: The Nationals have one of the highest payrolls in baseball this season.

Mike-Rizzo-NLDS-presser-sidebar.jpgThe Nationals' opening day payroll of $180,193,628 (by USA Today's calculations) ranks fourth in the majors, trailing only the Giants ($220,881,444), Red Sox ($206,247,686) and Cubs ($182,560,002). The Associated Press has the Nats tied with the Dodgers for fourth place, behind those same three clubs. The website Spotrac has the Nationals fifth at $181,349,058, with the Dodgers bumped up to the third spot due to $12 million in "buried" money (guaranteed salaries being paid to minor leaguers).

It's the highest the Nationals have ever ranked in team payroll entering a season, and it's up about $17 million from their 2017 opening day payroll of $163,375,490.

Opening day payroll is only one way to measure a club's finances. The actual amount the Nationals will pay out to their major league players in 2018 will be far different, based on roster changes throughout the season. For example, the Nationals' end-of-season salary payout in 2017 was $202,240,951, which ranked fifth in the majors (according to Cot's Contracts).

Then there's the club's payroll, as calculated for Major League Baseball's luxury tax purposes. This method uses the average annual value of a player's contract for each season's salary figure, ultimately determining whether a team exceeds the sport's luxury tax threshold (this year the threshold is $197 million) and thus has to pay a penalty.

The Nationals' luxury tax payroll to begin the season, according to Cot's Contracts, is $204,110,176. Thus, they are more than $7 million over the threshold and subject to a 30 percent tax on that amount as an offender for the second straight year. (If they go over next year's $206 million threshold, they'll be subject to a 50 percent tax.)

Here's the full player-by-player salary breakdown for the Nationals in 2018, using Spotrac's formula (which also includes prorated signing bonuses, deferred money and buyouts):

Max Scherzer: $22,142,857
Bryce Harper: $21,625,000
Stephen Strasburg: $18,333,333
Ryan Zimmerman: $14,000,000
Anthony Rendon: $12,300,000
Gio Gonzalez: $12,000,000
Matt Wieters: $10,500,000
Ryan Madson: $7,666,668
Tanner Roark: $6,475,000
Adam Eaton: $6,000,000
Shawn Kelley: $5,500,000
Brandon Kintzler: $5,000,000
Sean Doolittle: $4,380,000
Matt Adams: $4,000,000
Howie Kendrick: $3,000,000
Michael A. Taylor: $2,525,000
Miguel Montero: $1,300,000
Trea Turner: $577,200
Enny Romero: $565,000
Sammy Solis: $560,300
Wilmer Difo: $557,900
Matt Grace: $557,000
A.J. Cole: $555,300
Trevor Gott: $555,000
Brian Goodwin: $553,900

Daniel Murphy: $17,500,000
Joaquin Benoit: $1,000,000
Joe Ross: $567,900
Koda Glover: $551,700

Adam Lind: $500,000

Jayson Werth: $10,500,000
Rafael Soriano: $2,000,000
Joe Blanton: $1,000,000

TOTAL PAYROLL: $181,349,058

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