I’ll continue the estimating budgets series, because it’s not a whole lot useful to just know the NL West and Central. Today I’ll be covering the East divisions, which features a mixture of high payroll teams (Yankees, Mets, Red Sox) and some very low payroll teams (Marlins, Rays, Nationals).
To give you a quick refresher on the teams I’ve already covered, just for some frame of reference:
Estimated current payroll: $165 million
Estimated 2024 budget: $185 million (according to the owner)
Room for a SP? If Stroman opts out, yes. No if he doesn’t. But they need a bat, specifically at 1B, equally as much.
Estimated current payroll: $42 million
Estimated 2024 budget: Their budget in 2023 was $87 million; they consistently had $100 million or more before that.
Room for a SP? If you’re maximizing 2024, yes. But they have at least 7 interesting, young arms that should start games in 2024, so if they want to go with the youth movement, they have a built-in excuse.
Estimated current payroll: $58.6 million
Estimated 2024 budget: $80 million
Room for a SP? With Andrew McCutchen as a possible re-sign, with this estimate, they likely can’t tap into the bigger market. They do need a starter though.
Estimated current payroll: $114 million
Estimated 2024 budget: $130 million
Room for a SP? No, they need bats way more if they decide to spend money.
Estimated current payroll: $90 million
Estimated 2024 budget: $130 million+
Room for a SP? They should be able to sign one starter if they want. Also, they could really use another batter I think, so I don’t imagine it’s more than one.
Estimated current payroll: $147 million (assuming Kershaw signs another $20 million deal)
Estimated 2024 budget: in theory $250 million
Room for a SP? Uhhhhh have you watched the playoffs. If they want a guy, we’re in trouble
Estimated current payroll: $150 million
Estimated 2024 budget: $200 million
Room for a SP? You can always use another starter, but they should be more desperate for a bat. They are a sneaky good candidate for Shohei Ohtani.
Estimated current payroll: $200 million (player options complicate my estimate)
Estimated 2024 budget: $200 million
Room for a SP? No they have no room for really anybody
Estimated current payroll: $134 million
Estimated 2024 budget: I have genuinely no idea
Room for a SP? Yes, though they shouldn’t be a threat to the Cards if the Cards want somebody since no pitcher wants to pitch in Colorado.
Okay, so the Dodgers are an ultra-threat with gobs of money and a serious problem, especially if Clayton Kershaw retires. The Diamondbacks are a mild threat, likely to get a starter, but who knows how good. The Cubs are probably not a threat if Stroman returns, and if he does, that’s another starter to the free agent pile. The Giants could be, though they have five $8 million+ starters with top 20 prospect Kyle Harrison. The Reds are a wild card, but the rest are not someone to worry about.
Braves have some budget defining club options. Charlie Morton has a $20 million club option, which the Braves would accept but Morton might also retire, apparently dropping hints about it. Eddie Rosario has a $9 million club option. He had a decent year and is a postseason legend for them. That’s a $29 million swing. Without them, their budget is $169 million. Their 2024 budget was $205 million.
Do they need a SP? No chance if Morton returns. Maybe if he retires. They have Strider, Fried, and Elder. Lot of questions marks after them, but lot of names in the pile as well: Huascar Ynoa returns from Tommy John, Michael Soroka, Dylan Dodd, Allan Winans, AJ Smith-Shawver, Jared Shuster, Darius Vines, and at some point Ian Anderson should return from TJ himself. Let’s hope Morton returns for one more year.
In 2023, they had a budget of $110 million, and they’ll have a little room if that’s the 2024 budget. Because I estimate their current salary at about $93 million. That said, very hard to imagine them signing a free agent pitcher given they are fairly deep at starter even with Sandy’s injury.
The Mets had an absolutely absurd $346 million payroll and that does not include luxury tax payments. With some trades, they have whittled that down about $100 million to $255 million. I am assuming Omar Narvaez ($7 million) and Adam Ottavino ($6.75 million) accept their player options. They also have a $6.5 million club option on Brooks Raley but that’s a no brainer. Reportedly, the Mets are sitting this free agency out.
What they do in the playoffs may impact what they do. But they are only at $206 million for 2024. Their payroll this year was $246 million and in 2022 it was $242 million. That said, I believe they aren’t exactly the type of team who wants to keep going over the luxury tax, so I personally think their budget is $236 million. But clearly they have room for another starter and with Nola a free agent, a hole there as well.
Thanks to two large contracts and not much else, the Nationals have a budget of $118 million. It’s difficult to say what their 2024 budget is, because past years do not give me a good hint. I don’t think they’re going to be pushing in chips for next year, so I don’t think it’ll be a whole lot more than than $118 million number.
The Yankees are still on the hook for a $6 million buyout of Josh Donaldson, as well as paying Aaron Hicks $9 million to help push the Orioles to the playoffs. Amusingly the Marlins pay the Yankees $3 million to help with Stanton. Overall, though the Yankees are at $238 million. Not sure what their budget will be. This is not the Yankees of old. It was $273 million this year, but $249 million in 2022 and $201 million in 2021. They have Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, Domingo German, Clarke Schmidt, Nestor Cortes, and apparently Michael King can start now. Three of their top ten prospects are SPs who pitched last year in AAA. I’m not seeing it.
Justin Turner has a player option I think he’ll accept, Corey Kluber has a team option that will be rejected and I think Joely Rodriguez’s team option will be rejected. Thus my estimate for them is $175 million. Their budget was as high as $242 million in 2019, but has topped out at $222 million post-pandemic and was $199 million in 2023. So not real sure. The Red Sox actually do have five decent starters which does not include Garrett Whitlock. It’s a group that can be improved upon if the Red Sox want to though. Wild card team for me.
The Jays have a club option on Whit Merrifield, but it’s for $18 million, so that’s getting rejected. Chad Green has a very complicated deal, but I don’t think the Jays want to commit to 3 years, $27 million for him, which then puts the onus on Green for a 1 year, $6.25 million, which I think he’d probably take. The Jays have a metric ton of players eligible for arbitration led by Vlad Guerrero ($20.4 million). On the books, they have $190 million committed and their 2024 payroll was $214 million, but that’s far and away the highest payroll they’ve had in years, so I don’t think they have much to spend. More importantly for our purposes, their 2024 rotation is Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, Chris Bassitt, Yusei Kikuchi, and presumably Alek Monoah plus Ricky Tiedemann is not far behind. They’re not getting a starter.
They are going to have to shed some guys. My current projected payroll, which was just me looking at guys who you would not non-tender, was $114 million. Their 2023 payroll was $80 million. Trading Tyler Glasnow puts them at $90 million. They are most certainly trading Glasnow.
The Orioles 2024 payroll is only at $66 million, and they most definitely need starters, so it all comes down to what the owner is willing to pay. They’ve had between a $60 and $70 million payroll ever year since 2020. It was just $87 million in 2019. Surely, they’ll spend money on at least one starting pitcher.
And there you have it. No Dodgers level threat among this group, but a few teams who are somewhat of wild cards. The Phillies are on the only team I fully expect to be among the highest bidders for the best starting pitcher free agents of these two divisions. The Orioles should also get some type of starter, but it’s tough to know with an ultra cheap owner if they’ll actually push in some chips.