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Buy a World Series Berth – The MLB Mo’ Moneyball

Buy a World Series Berth – The MLB Mo’ Moneyball

What would you buy with $300 million? A commercial jet? A luxurious yacht? A private island in Hawaii?

The owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox just bought a League Championship series berth – and maybe, a trip to the World Series.

The MLB Mo’ Moneyball: Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox

The Dodgers and Red Sox were the first teams to book their places in their respective LCS, keeping the possibility of a Dodgers-Red Sox World Series alive. If the two do meet, their total combined payrolls would amount to $373 million, the greatest combined sum for any two teams in history.

The previous high was set in 2009, when the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees combined for $340 million.

Over the past two decades, baseball has seen such rapid growth in terms of revenue brought about by healthy in-game attendances and rising television money. This growth has now translated into player salaries. The average MLB team’s payroll has nearly doubled from just $55 million in 2000 to $106 million in 2013.

Unlike other leagues like the NBA and NFL, MLB does not have a salary cap, which means that teams can spend as much money as their owners have in their pockets. This has allowed Boston and LA to play a different kind of Moneyball that Brad Pitt, er, Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics are used to.

With tremendous fan following, a terrific television market and of course some very wealthy owners, the Dodger and Red Sox have built two of the best teams money could buy. Here’s how they did it…

The Boston Red Sox

Since their acquisition by John Henry and New England Sports Ventures 12 years ago, only the rival Yankees have consistently had a larger payroll than the Red Sox in the sport. The team has spent over $1.66 billion (an average of $138.8 million) in salaries since 2002.

[sc:MLB240banner ]Their rehabilitation of Fenway Park drove an enormous increase in annual revenue (to the tune of $310 in 2012), which has funded their generously compensated team. This year, the Red Sox’s $150 million was 4th in MLB, behind only the Yankees, the Dodgers, and the Phillies.

In 2010-11, the Red Sox handed two of the largest contracts in their history to Carl Crawford (7 years, $142 million) and Adrian Gonzalez (7 years, $154 million). Unfortunately, neither was a hit in Boston.

The Los Angeles Dodgers

Enter the Dodgers. Just 18 months ago, the Dodgers were sold to a consortium led by former NBA great Magic Johnson and firm Guggenheim Partners for a staggering $2.3 billion, by far the largest amount paid for a sports team in history. A major factor in the sale was the recently-signed local television deal worth an astronomical $8 billion.

Aiming to make a splash and field a competitive team immediately, the Dodgers agreed to absorb the enormous contracts of the Red Sox malcontents Crawford, Gonzalez and embattled pitcher Josh Beckett. In the following months, they also acquired talented but volatile Hanley Ramirez from the Miami Marlins, signed Cuban prospect Yasiel Puig. Korean pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu and former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke, and extended outfielder Andre Ethier.

And in less than two years, the Dodgers increased their payroll 230% from a middling $97 million to an astounding $223 million.

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A Red Sox-Dodgers World Series?

Despite the Dodgers’ immediate success just a year after investing hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of players, history has shown that money does not always equate success in the MLB. They just need only look up at the only team above them with a bigger payroll: the New York Yankees.

Since 2005, the Yankees have averaged over $200 million in annual salaries, which has produced a grand total of one World Series appearance in 2009. By comparison, the San Francisco Giants won championships in 2010 and 2012 with an average payroll of just $115 million.

Furthermore, the average payroll of the last 10 World Series winners was just under $110 million, and there have even been three separate World Series participants who earned less than $50 million as a team.

As the MLB’s finances get stronger, teams with payrolls like the Dodgers and Red Sox will make their way to the World Series. However, recent history has proven that in baseball, sometimes all the dollars in the world still can’t win every championship.

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Written by Brad

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