Rockies Payroll Nears Club Record
In the off-season the Rockies sent Matt Holliday, the second-highest paid player on the team a year ago, to Oakland for a package of players, and saw closer Brian Fuentes, the fourth-highest paid player on the team a year ago, leave as a free agent.
And the doomsayers had a field day, moaning about the low-budget team slashing salary.
The 2009 season opens on Monday and even without Holliday and Fuentes, the Rockies will have a team payroll that challenges the largest in franchise history, according to an insidetherockies.com analysis of information filed with the Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball.
With the idea that Juan Morillo will earn the final spot on the roster, the Rockies are looking at a payroll of $77,203,849 for their 25-man active roster plus pitchers and Taylor Buchholz on the disabled list.
That is nearly a $7 million increase from a year ago, and up nearly $23 million from 2007, when the Rockies advanced to the World Series for the first time in franchise history. It also is only $280,151 shy of the franchise Opening day record of $77,484,000 in 2001, the year they added left-handed free agent pitchers Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle.
Morillo has a big-league salary of $401,000 so if the Rockies were to bring in a pitcher from outside the organization or decide to keep instead of Morillo the Opening Day figure could become the largest in franchise history.
Team’s payrolls can be figured in various manners, but this annual survey is based off the base salary for the players on the active roster and disabled list, along with pro-rated portions of their signing bonuses and buyouts on option years.
The Rockies do get $875,000 in help from the Chicago Cubs, which they were given to help defray the addition of Jason Marquis and his $9.875 million salary in exchange for reliever Luis Vizcaino, who is owed $4 million for 2009.
While the Rockies did subtract Holliday and Fuentes, they added Marquis at $9.875 million and reliever at $4.5 million. What’s more, the simple return of 18 players from the Opening Day roster of a year ago resulted in $13,307,500 in salary increases, led by raises of $4.45 million for right-handed pitcher and $2.6625 million for third baseman Garrett Atkins.
First baseman , whose salary came out at $17,018,182, is the highest paid player on the team for the fifth consecutive year. Larry Walker had been No. 1 the eight year years prior to Helton, and nine of the 10. Billy Swift was the team leader in 1996, Andres Galarraga in 1994, and Charlie Hayes in 1993.
Fourteen of the 27 players included in this year’s survey earn at least $1 million, including four of the five members of the rotation – Cook, Marquis, ($2 million) and ($1 million). will earn $402,000 as the big-league portion of his contract.
At the other extreme, three of the four full-time outfielders on the roster will earn $415,000 or less. While ’s salary is $5.667 million, will earn $415,000, $403,000 and $401,000.
The Rockies expected Opening Day lineup has a combined salary of $43,424,182, which is higher than the team payroll was as recently as 2006 ($41,233,000), and dwarfs the original Opening Day payroll of $8.925,000 for 1993.
The Rockies are one of a handful of teams that has a strict pay scale for players who are not eligible for arbitration, and it caps at $415,000 this year, which is what Spilborghs, Jeff Baker and will make. The Rockies have 10 pre-arbitration eligible players on their roster.