The Four Lowest Payrolls in the MLB

posted March 27, 2019 in Sports, CommRadio by Tom Johnston

On Thursday, Major League Baseball will begin another season. However, there are four teams who have very low payrolls and may not expect that much out of their seasons. Those teams are the Pirates, Rays, Marlins, and Orioles.

Tampa Bay Rays

Starting with the Tampa Bay Rays, they will enter the 2019 campaign with the lowest payroll in all of MLB at almost $55.5 million dollars. The Tampa Bay Rays had a surprising offseason, locking in 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell to a long-term deal. They countered that by signing former Astros pitcher Charlie Morton in free agency to create a unique one-two punch at the top of the rotation. Tyler Glasnow, who was the Pirates’ former top prospect, will be their third starter in the rotation.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Rays added White Sox All-Star Avisail Garcia and former Mariners catcher Mike Zunino. The unique scenario about the Rays last season was that they won 89 games. This season, the Rays’ are projected to win 84 games. In a very competitive AL East, facing the Yankees and Red Sox in 18 games a piece comes into factor. The Rays may be in the ballpark of 75 to 80 wins this season.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ are next on this list. The Pirates’ current payroll entering the 2019 campaign currently stands at over $62.7 million dollars. This makes the Pirates’ the second lowest in front of the Rays.

The Pirates’ offseason wasn’t that busy either. To begin the offseason, the Pirates’ bought out Josh Harrison of his contract for $10.5 million. They also let Jordy Mercer slide, losing the entire left side of the infield. Ironically, both are now on the Detroit Tigers.

To make up for some loses, the Pirates did end up signing Lonnie Chisenhall to provide some utility depth in the outfield and perhaps occasionally around the infield. They also signed Jung Ho Kang to a one-year deal worth $3 million, which is less then what his old deal with the team was. Cap that off with the signing of veteran utility Melky Cabrera.

The Pirates signed Jordan Lyles to a one-year $2.05 million dollar deal. Lyles will be in the rotation but the question is will he be a productive piece. Current projections lead to a 79-win season and fourth place finish. That’s very accurate considering how tough the NL Central currently is.

Miami Marlins

Next is the Miami Marlins. The Marlins currently have a payroll of $63.5 million dollars. People may expect the Marlins to do the least here considering they’re coming off a season in which they won 69 games. After trading J.T Realmuto to the Phillies, the Marlins signed international free agent Víctor Víctor Mesa.

Miami also acquired pitcher Riley Ferrell, who was left unprotected by the Astros. What made that acquisition even better was McKenzie Mills and Christopher Torres, along with others, were left unprotected and not picked up by other teams. To top it off, the Marlins went out and got veterans Curtis Granderson (non-roster spring training invite), Neil Walker and pitcher Sergio Romo.

The Marlins have improved their talent overall. This team should win around 74 to 80 games. They may also be in line to finish in last place in the NL East too.

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles current payroll entering the 2019 campaign stands at around $73.2 million dollars. Baltimore is coming off a 2018 season the organization as a whole would love to forget and put behind them. Last season, the Orioles only won 47 games.

Chris Davis, who the Orioles have invested a lot of money into, did not live up to expectations at first base. Instead of investing on the roster, they invested in the front office. The minor roster moves they made were a few waiver claims and a pair of Rule 5 Draft picks. Longtime manager Buck Showalter was let go, along with general manager Dan Duquette.

The Orioles got Mike Elias, former Astros assistant general manager, to take Duquette's spot. Astros’ director of decision sciences Sig Mejdal took on the role as assistant general manager of analytics. Plus, the addition of international scouting director Koby Perez and manager Brandon Hyde, formerly the Cubs bench coach, should look to make some needed improvements within this organization. Expect the Orioles to win at least 55 to 66 games. Being in the competitive AL East, they will most likely finish in last place.



Tom Johnston is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at