The Astros payroll is rising, no more penny-pinching with McLane.
There was a running joke in 2013 that Alex Rodriguez had a higher salary than the Astros team payroll. It was correct, Rodriguez’s salary was $28 million that year while the Astros payroll was a little over $22 million via Steve the Ump. The Astros had stripped down the payroll by trading off any major league players as part of the process. GM Jeff Luhnow told fans to be patient as they went through a period of losing. The 2013 team was the last team to lose 100 games.
The 2013 Astros were competing against teams that had $200 million dollar salaries. There was not much winning that season, but you started to see some of the current core of players start to rise. I take that back, only four players who played in 2013 remains with the team. They are Jose Altuve, Dallas Keuchel, Marwin Gonzalez, and Brad Peacock. You can say Max Stassi and Kevin Chapman, but they have yet to earn an extended stay with the team.
The next year is when things started to go right for the Houston Astros. The 2014 season saw the rise of Keuchel and Collin McHugh, while George Springer finally made his highly anticipated debut. Luhnow started making some minor moves to rebuild this team through trades, free agency, and the farm system. According to Moury Brown, the final luxury tax payroll in 2014 was $64,319,960. Brown says the final 2013 payroll was actually $39,210,733, more than the $22 million that it started with.
Brown also reported that the Astros finished the 2016 season with a luxury tax payroll of $124,363,133. Most people believe that the actual team payroll was around $99 million at the end of 2016. Why the difference, the luxury tax salary could include minor league players or players who were on the team at some point.
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Moving on up!
Brown sent out a Tweet today saying that the Astros have increased their luxury tax salary by 93% since the 2014 season. Roster Resources had the projected team salary to be about $128 million in 2017. The team has added Charlie Morton, Brian McCann, Josh Reddick, and Carlos Beltran. Plus, all of their arbitration eligible players are due to get raises.
With the arbitration process yet to start, it’s almost impossible to decide the actual 2017 team salary. It’s good to see owner Jim Crane and his partners following what he promised at the beginning of the process. The team did decline the option of Pat Neshek this offseason and non-tenderedChris Carter last offseason. Those were moves to reallocate the salary in other areas of need.
I would not be surprised if they add another player before the season starts. This team could approach the luxury tax threshold in a few seasons. The young core of the Astros will keep getting raises until they reach free agency, then the team will have to decide which players they should pay or walk.
These are not the days of penny-pinching with Drayton McLane or the beginning of the Crane era. They are showing us the money now!
***Salary and players from Baseball-Reference and team payrolls from Roster Resources***