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Projected 2023 Marlins payroll entering Spring Training

A noticeable uptick in spending still leaves Miami far below the true NL East contenders.

Skip Schumaker is introduced as the new manager of the Miami Marlins alongside general manager Kim Ng (L) and owner Bruce Sherman (R) during a press conference at loanDepot park on November 03, 2022 in Miami, Florida.
Bruce Sherman is likely to spend more on Miami’s major league roster than he has in any of his other seasons as Marlins principal owner.
Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Let me begin by shouting out two invaluable tools for keeping up with MLB payroll details: Roster Resource and Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Wherever you have bookmarked (you do have bookmarked...right?!), add those sites to that same folder.

Invaluable as they may be, they’re also imperfect. I think Miami Marlins fans deserve a payroll breakdown that is specifically tailored for their team.

I’ll be taking you through a loose projection of what the Marlins will pay their major league players in 2023. Last season, according to the Associated Press, that final sum was $83,642,932. Principal owner Bruce Sherman has given his front office the green light to raise that considerably for the upcoming campaign.

Running a major league team comes with plenty of other expenditures, like travel, player benefits and compensation for all of the non-playing personnel. But let’s stick with the stuff that’s easiest to calculate using publicly available information.

Veteran MLB Players ($80.6M)

Sandy Alcantara #22 of the Miami Marlins speaks to the crowd after receiving the 2022 National League Cy Young Award during the 2023 BBWAA Awards Dinner at New York Hilton Midtown on Saturday, January 28, 2023 in New York, New York. Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The largest piece of the payroll pie consists of players who have reached or completed their arbitration-eligible years. Barring suspensions, here are their guaranteed earnings for 2023 (salaries plus signing bonus installments where applicable):

Additionally, the Marlins paid $275k when they bought out the 2023 mutual options of Wendle ($75k) and Jesús Aguilar ($200k). I count that toward this year’s spending.

Pre-Arb Players & MiLB Journeymen ($9.35M)

Jazz Chisholm poses for a photo during the The Players Alliance Event at Atlantis on Friday, December 16, 2022 in Paradise Island, Bahamas. Photo by Gabriella Ricciardi/Getty Images

There are 15 players listed above. That leaves at least 11 more active roster spots to be filled throughout the regular season (13 in September).

Like Cot’s, I am using $850k as the generic salary projection for pre-arbitration-eligible players and vets who are on minor league or split contracts. The MLB minimum salary for 2023 is $720k. Some of them will make significantly more than the minimum. Rounding up to that extent also attempts to account for September roster expansion and what optionable 40-man roster players will receive for the portion of the season that they spend in the minors.

Injured List ($6.23M)

If players get hurt while on the MLB active roster, they continue to get paid like major leaguers throughout their injured list stints. Anthony Bender and Max Meyer, for example, both blew out their pitching elbow in the middle of the 2022 season and required Tommy John surgery. The Marlins are prepared to store them on the IL throughout 2023, paying them just like other pre-arb players.

The Marlins were wrecked by injuries in 2022. While it’s reasonable to assume that they should be luckier in that department moving forward, there will inevitably be other individuals aside from Bender and Meyer who miss extended periods of the season.

According to the Baseball Prospectus Injured List Ledger, Marlins players over the last four full-length seasons—2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022—were on the IL for an average of 1,363.5 in-season days. The MLB regular season is 186 days long. Even with a regression to that average, the Marlins have to budget for 7.33 season’s worth of injury-replacement players (approximately $850k apiece).

As of Tuesday, my 2023 Marlins payroll projection is $96,180,500. That would potentially challenge 2018 to set a new Bruce Sherman-era record if the club is competitive enough on the field to justify retaining its vets for the whole season (rather than offloading some of their contracts via trades/waiver claims). This figure is still way below the MLB average and less than half of what Miami’s division rivals in New York, Philadelphia and Atlanta are projected to spend.