Thurm: How MLB teams are allocating their 2014 payrolls

From SABR member Wendy Thurm at FanGraphs on February 24, 2014:

Spring training is in full gear. Opening Day — Australia style — is 26 days away. Several free agents still hoping for major-league deals remain unsigned, most notably Stephen Drew, Kendrys Morales and Ervin Santana. They each received a qualifying offer from their last team, turned it down, and now sit waiting for a new team to pay them and agree to give up a draft pick. For the most part, though, teams have done the hard work to construct their Opening Day rosters, save for the usual spring training competitions for bench positions and the back end of the bullpen.

Combined, teams have committed more than $3 billion in salary for the 2014 season. The top spender is the Los Angeles Dodgers, at more than $220 million. The most frugal is the Miami Marlins, with approximately $42.5 million in salary obligations.

Every team, no matter the payroll, has to make decisions about how to spend the money allocated for player salaries. We wanted to know about those decisions. What percentage of a team’s payroll is spent on the highest-paid player? The starting rotations? The starting position players? The bullpen? The bench? How many pre-arbitration eligible players likely will be on each team’s Opening Day roster? Do big spending teams allocate their payroll in a different way than smaller spending team? If so, how? And so on.

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Originally published: February 25, 2014. Last Updated: February 25, 2014.