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Royals field $123 million Opening Day payroll

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The payroll is down 15% over last year’s opening payroll.

Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Royals fielded an Opening Day roster with a total payroll of $123 million, in unofficial numbers according to Cot’s Contracts. The total is 15% down from the franchise-record $145 million payroll the team assembled for Opening Day last year.

At the outset of the off-season, Dayton Moore had stated his intent to reduce payroll to the $110-120 million range, saying, “we’ve got flexibility in that $110 to $120 [million range]. But I don’t necessarily think it makes sense to be in that $120 if we don’t feel like we match up well with the other teams in the division.” Initially, the Royals were able to reduce payroll by finding inventive deals to shed part of the contractual obligations of Joakim Soria and Brandon Mooss. Moore later took advantage of a slow market and scooped up free agents Jon Jay, Lucas Duda, and Mike Moustakas at bargain prices.

Royals 2018 payroll

Player 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Player 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Alex Gordon $20,000,000 $20,000,000 $4,000,000
Ian Kennedy $16,000,000 $16,500,000 $16,500,000 Free Agent
Danny Duffy $14,000,000 $15,250,000 $15,250,000 $15,250,000 Free Agent
Jason Hammel $9,000,000 $2,000,000
Salvador Perez $8,700,000 $11,200,000 $14,200,000 $14,200,000 Free Agent
Kelvin Herrera $7,937,500 Free Agent
Mike Moustakas $5,500,000 $1,000,000
Jorge Soler $4,666,667 $4,666,667 $4,666,667 Free Agent
Lucas Duda $3,500,000 Free Agent
Jon Jay $3,000,000 Free Agent
Brandon Maurer $2,950,000 Arbitration Free Agent
Alcides Escobar $2,500,000 Free Agent
Drew Butera $2,300,000 Free Agent
Nate Karns $1,375,000 Arbitration Arbitration Free Agent
Justin Grimm $1,250,000 Arbitration Free Agent
Blaine Boyer $1,000,000 Free Agent
Ryan Goins $1,000,000 Arbitration Arbitration Free Agent
Jesse Hahn $574,000 Arbitration Arbitration Arbitration
Cheslor Cuthbert $573,500 Arbitration Arbitration Arbitration
Brian Flynn $573,500 Arbitration Arbitration Arbitration
Whit Merrifield $569,500 Arbitration Arbitration Arbitration
Paulo Orlando $568,500 Arbitration Arbitration Arbitration
Jorge Bonifacio $561,900
Jakob Junis $554,250
Burch Smith $552,450
Eric Skoglund $546,625
Cam Gallagher $546,400
Tim Hill $545,000
Brad Keller $545,000
Dead money
Travis Wood $6,000,000
Brandon Moss $3,250,000
Wily Peralta $1,500,000 $30,000
Joakim Soria $1,000,000
Total $123,139,792 $70,646,667 $54,616,667 $29,450,000 $0

Alex Gordon has a $23 million mutual option in 2020 that will almost certainly be declined, giving him a $4 million buyout that year. Jason Hammel has a $12 million mutual option for 2019 that gives him a $2 million buyout if declined, and Mike Moustakas has a $15 million mutual option for next year with a $1 million buyout. These salary figures do not include incentives.

The Boston Red Sox top the list of baseball’s biggest spenders, with a payroll of $223 million. The Yankees and Dodgers, known for being profligate spenders in the past, will be tenth and eleventh in payroll, respectively. Both teams shed salary obligations to get under the a luxury tax threshold that is more punitive under the new collective bargaining agreement, and to set up for what is expected to be a monster free agent class next off-season.

Overall, the spending around baseball has slowed due to a lack of action on the free agent market. Salaries rose just 1% overall, and teams spent a total of $1.98 billion on 65 multi-year contracts this winter, far less than the past two off-seasons. Ten teams are spending less than $100 million on payroll, with the Oakland Athletics and Chicago White Sox at the bottom with $71 million.