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The Tampa Bay Rays Are Pretending To Be Poor Again

MLB Photos. Getty Images.

SOURCE - Principal owner Stuart Sternberg recently spoke regarding the new high-water mark for spending in Tampa and the club’s future payrolls. In his comments, Sternberg indicated that the elevated payroll for 2024 is “going to lead to real losses this year” for the club. 

While its impossible to evaluate that statement fully given the lack of publicly available information regarding the Rays’ (and the majority of MLB clubs’) finances, it’s easy to see that the club’s 2024 payroll is well outside of their typical range. RosterResource projects the club for a $99MM payroll in 2024, while Cot’s Baseball Contracts projects Tampa to open the season with a payroll of just under $91MM. Regardless of which figure you take into account, it would be a healthy increase to payroll for a club that opened the 2023 season with a $73MM payroll and has an all-time high of just under $84MM. 

The poor Rays! They want to spend so much more money but even a $90 million dollar payroll will lead to "real losses"! Thank you so much Hero Owner Stu Sternberg! What a charitable fellow! I'm impressed he can afford that mask! Thank you Stu!

Julio Aguilar. Getty Images.

What a line of absolute bullshit. Sternberg has been crying poor since the moment he bought the team in 2004. Of course, he won't mention that he bought 49% of the club for $200 million back then and if he sold it now, he would get close to a BILLION dollars for his investment. But you know, poor, small market, blah, blah, blah.

Keep in mind the Rays had been making over $50 million dollars a year on LOCAL TV RIGHTS ALONE the past few seasons. That's when they kept payrolls that were almost exactly that number. What were they doing with attendance/parking revenue, national TV money or the revenue sharing they were getting from other clubs? No idea but I know Sternberg wasn't putting into back into the team.

Now, the Rays would say this year is different because the cable company paying them $50-60 million dollars a year could no longer afford that (no shit). But keep in mind, the Rays got $30 million dollars alone last year from revenue sharing. That's other teams literally giving them money because they are in a small market. I'm guessing Stu would leave out the $60 million dollars each team gets from national TV money alone. Funny how that equals $90 million bucks right there.

Giphy Images.

So they sell off Tyler Glasnow and Manuel Margot and use verbiage to scare/warn fans that they will get rid of even more players next year. They'll blame fans for not supporting a team by coming out to the games but never answer questions on where that money actually goes.

The thing about owning a sports team is that you make your money when you sell. If you are a good owner, you should operate at a loss each year. When you sell, you'll make it all back and then some. It's such an exclusive club that you'll always have other rich people spending insane money to join.

These owners like to trick fans into seeing an empty stadium on a Wednesday night in April into believing the team is broke. Yet they will ignore all the other revenue streams at their disposal. Obviously, teams like the Rays and Pirates aren't going to spend like the Yankees and Dodgers. No one expect the Rays to have a $300 million dollar payroll. But this idea that they can run a team with only $90 million and then say there are all these "losses" is absolute bullshit. 

But if you are Stu Sternberg, why would you stop? You can keep lining your pockets and shrug and point to an empty row if anyone dares question you. Then a decade from now, you can walk away with a billion dollars after you sell the team while at the same time saying you did everything you could.

Being an owner is sports is the one game they always will win.