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Royals field $100 million Opening Day payroll, down 19 percent from last year

The Royals regress their payroll.

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

The Royals began the season with an Opening Day payroll of $100 million, according to numbers from Sportrac. That number is a significant decline of 19 percent over last year’s figure, when the team fielded a $123 million payroll. Those numbers include players on the active roster and on the injured list, such as Salvador Perez, who is out for the entire year with an elbow injury. The Royals have insurance to cover an undisclosed amount of Perez’s salary this year. Performance incentives are not included in these figures.

The numbers do not count Eric Skoglund, who is suspended 80 games without pay for violating the league’s banned substances policy. Also not included is what the Royals would have owed Yordano Ventura under his $23 million contract. Ventura was owed $9.75 million in 2019 under the terms of his deal, but his estate has not been paid the full amount.

Royals’ 2019 Opening Day payroll

Player 2019 Salary 2020 Salary 2021 Salary Notes
Player 2019 Salary 2020 Salary 2021 Salary Notes
Alex Gordon $20,000,000 $4,000,000 Free agent $20M club option in 2020
Ian Kennedy $16,500,000 $16,500,000 Free agent
Danny Duffy $15,250,000 $15,250,000 $15,500,000
Salvador Perez $11,200,000 $14,200,000 $14,200,000
Jorge Soler $4,666,667 $4,666,667 Arbitration
Billy Hamilton $4,250,000 $1,000,000 Free agent $7.5M mutual option in 2020
Chris Owings $3,000,000 Free agent
Martin Maldonado $2,500,000 Free agent
Jake Diekman $2,250,000 $500,000 Free agent $5.75M mutual option in 2020
Wily Peralta $2,250,000 $1,000,000 Free agent $7M mutual option in 2020
Brad Boxberger $2,200,000 Free agent
Lucas Duda $1,250,000 Free agent
Whit Merrifield $1,000,000 $5,000,000 $6,750,000
Brian Flynn $800,000 Arbitration Arbitration
Jesse Hahn $800,000 Arbitration Arbitration
Scott Barlow $650,000
Terrance Gore $650,000
Jakob Junis $578,200 Arbitration
Kevin McCarthy $578,200
Brad Keller $578,125 Arbitration
Adalberto Mondesi $576,000 Arbitration
Tim Hill $573,175
Hunter Dozier $567,225
Jorge Lopez $562,250
Ryan O'Hearn $557,650
Cam Gallagher $557,125
Trevor Oaks $555,350
Chris Ellis $555,000
Frank Schwindel $555,000
Kyle Zimmer $555,000
Deferred Salaries 2019 Salary 2020 Salary 2021 Salary Notes
Jason Hammel $2,000,000
Travis Wood $1,500,000
Wily Peralta $25,000
$100,089,967 $62,116,667 $36,450,000

Sources: Sportrac and Cot’s Contracts.

The Royals still owe $2 million on the buyout for Jason Hammel’s declined mutual option for this year. Sportrac lists Travis Wood’s 2019 buyout on the Royals’ payroll, although the Padres may be actually picking up the tab, with the Royals having already sent $8 million to the club upon the trade of Wood back in 2017. Much of the drop in payroll this year is due to the departure of veterans from last year’s club such as Hammel, Kelvin Herrera, Mike Moustakas, Jon Jay, and Alcides Escobar. The Royals did add $15.45 million in payroll this year to add six free agents - Billy Hamilton, Chris Owings, Martin Maldonado, Jake Diekman, Brad Boxberger, and Lucas Duda.

The Royals have said in the past that their “break-even point” for payroll is $115 million, but that is with an assumption of drawing 2 million fans in attendance. Last year, the Royals drew 1.66 million fans to watch a 58-104 team.

According to figures from Sportrac, the Royals are 23rd in the league in player payroll, spending more than the Padres, Athletics, White Sox, Pirates, Orioles, Marlins, and Rays. The Boston Red Sox have the highest payroll in baseball at $225 million, followed by the Cubs, Yankees, Dodgers, and Giants.

Overall, MLB payrolls are down 2.3 percent over last year’s Opening Day payrolls, with an average of $133.6 million. It is the second consecutive year payrolls have dropped.