Breakdown of 2021 Dodgers payroll by playing time and production



We still seem to be in a bit of a vacuum regarding discussions between major league owners and players. After the landlords’ request for federal mediation last week was denied, the next step in negotiations is expected to be some sort of landlord offer.

But for now, the owners’ meetings are this week in Orlando. Commissioner Rob Manfred is expected to speak to the media on Thursday, by Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. At this time, there are no discussions planned between players and owners, by Evan Drellich at The Athletic.

So for now, like almost all of the last 10 weeks, we’re waiting.

But once the labor talks resume, one of the main points of contention will be compensation for young players, likely through an increase in the MLB minimum wage and perhaps either more eligibility. early in salary arbitration, or a sort of bonus pool for players with limited abilities. service time.

As of last week, the reported offer from the players’ association included a minimum wage that starts at $775,000. MLB owners are at $615,000, a 7.8% increase from the minimum wage of $570,500 in 2021, the final year of the last collective bargaining agreement.

Whatever the two sides end up agreeing is one thing, but it strikes me how dependent the sport is on players at the lower end of the pay scale.

This is from Ronald Blum at The Associated Press in December at the start of lockdown:

This money is heavily concentrated at the top of the salary structure. Of approximately 1,955 players who signed major league contracts at any time before the final month of the regular season, 112 had earned $10 million or more this year as of August 31, 40 of whom have earned at least $20 million. , including pro rata shares of signing bonuses. .

There were 1,397 winners under $1 million, including 1,271 at $600,000 or less and 332 under $100,000, a group of younger players who commute with the minors.

Over 71% of major league players in September made less than $1 million in 2021. I’m not sure how much of that was a continuation of a growing trend of roster rotation, and how much extent could be attributed to the aftermath of going from a 60-game campaign in 2020 to a full slate of games last year.

I tried to put that in context with the Dodgers, who won 106 games and had the highest payroll in the sport. For competitive tax purposes, which use the average annual contract value, the Dodgers’ 2021 payroll was $285.6 million, which resulted in a $32.65 million levy in luxury tax.

I watched every player appear in a game for Los Angeles in 2021, 61 players total, and used the salaries paid by the Dodgers, dividing them into groups.

List of 2021 Dodgers, by salary group

Salary Percentage of PA & BF Percentage of bWAR
Salary Percentage of PA & BF Percentage of bWAR
$10 million or more 34.9% 42.6%
$4–9.99 million 23.8% 24.6%
$1 to $3.99 million 10.1% 22.6%
less than $1 million 31.2% 10.2%

Ten players were paid at least $10 million by the Dodgers last year and, unsurprisingly, accounted for just under 43% of the team’s wins over replacement (baseball’s benchmark version).

But it was telling that players earning less than $1 million with the Dodgers — 39 in all — accounted for 31% of total playing time, using plate appearances for batters and batters versus pitchers.

In total, the Dodgers got 41% of their playing time and about a third of the bWAR of players earning less than $4 million. I don’t know how this compares to other teams, but it shows that even in a successful, high-paying team, a lot of the work is done by relatively inexpensive labor.

How this group will be compensated in the future will be decided in the coming weeks.

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