With so much focus on the MLB teams that spend a lot of money, we got curious about the lowest MLB payrolls in 2023. Of course, some of the teams with the highest payrolls this season have to pay a luxury tax, and in some cases, those teams have drastically underperformed.

But how are the teams with the lowest player salaries in MLB performing this season?

Ranking the 10 lowest MLB payrolls in 2023

If some of the top spenders in baseball have been disappointments, does that mean teams with the lowest MLB payrolls in 2023 are exceeding expectations? Well, that isn’t exactly how things have played out this season.

However, it’s quite interesting to see how teams that haven’t spent a lot of money have fared this year. Let’s take a closer look at the 10 teams with the lowest MLB payrolls in 2023.

Diamondbacks – $115.5 Million

Even with a payroll over $100 million, the D’Backs fall in the bottom third in spending. Keep in mind some of that is dead money after they parted ways with Madison Bumgarner early in the year.

       

However, Arizona’s young players have come up big for them, helping the D’Backs actually lead the NL West for a good chunk of the season and put Arizona in a position to reach the postseason.

Marlins – $96.4 Million

The Marlins always seem to be near the bottom in terms of spending. The franchise has a weird aversion to spending. However, Miami was a little more aggressive this past winter.

The Marlins have also made some smart trades, putting them in a position to contend in 2023 after spending a long time near the bottom of the NL East hierarchy. It’s been a surprising change of pace, especially for the folks in South Florida.

Nationals – $94 Million

It’s rebuilding time in Washington, which is why the Nationals are near the bottom in payroll. If they had been smart enough to let Stephen Strasburg leave in free agency the way Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, and others left, Washington’s player salaries would be even lower.

Outside of Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, nobody on Washington’s roster is making that much money. The only question is when the Nats will start to supplement their young roster with a little more spending.

Royals – $93 Million

Even with a $93 million payroll, the Royals have to be disappointed with how this season has gone. Kansas City has a little bit of money dedicated to veteran players but wasn’t able to put together the right mix of veterans and youngsters.

The Royals are one of those teams that can occasionally produce a winning stretch after years of rebuilding. But they have failed to take a step forward in their current rebuilding project this season.

Reds – $92.5 Million

The Reds don’t need to spend much money with the young players they’ve brought to the big leagues this year. A group of rookies led by Elly De La Cruz has turned Cincinnati into a contender in the NL Central despite one of the lowest payrolls in baseball.

Ironically, Cincinnati’s payroll is higher than you might think because Joey Votto and Wil Myers are taking up a huge chunk of it despite not contributing that much in 2023.

Guardians – $91.3 Million

It’s a little surprising that the Guardians have the lowest payroll in the AL Central considering they’ve been the best team in the division for a long time. Over the last seven years, Cleveland has won four division titles and been to the playoffs five times.

The Guards always seem to have young pitchers in the pipeline, allowing them to trade away players with high salaries and continue to compete. That’s been the formula again in 2023, and while Cleveland is caught in a tight race, the Guardians have been impressive this year considering their payroll.

Rays – $76.6 Million

The Rays have almost turned contending year after year with a low payroll into a science. They have always been careful about how they spend their money and haven’t been afraid to trade away players when they start making too much money. But Tampa can get away with that because the team’s farm system is always stocked with players ready to come up to the big leagues and contribute.

While the Rays have cooled off considerably since their unbelievable start to the season, their limited spending shouldn’t keep them from making the playoffs in 2023.

Pirates – $76.3 Million

Low payrolls are nothing new to Pittsburgh, and 2023 is no exception. Most of the veterans on Pittsburgh’s roster and players who are past their prime and no longer making a ton of money.

In fairness, the Pirates have assembled a promising group of young players who have started to make some noise this season. However, with a few injuries contributing, the Pirates haven’t had enough to remain in the playoff picture. But to their credit, they have performed far better in 2023 than you might expect for the third-lowest payroll in baseball.

Orioles – $67.8 Million

It’s utterly amazing what the Orioles have accomplished this season with the second-lowest payroll in baseball. Baltimore’s roster is made up almost entirely of young players who aren’t making much money with a few veterans mixed in.

That’s what happens when you spend years rebuilding from the bottom up and assemble a great farm system that has several players pan out. Despite the lack of spending, the Orioles have a serious chance to win the AL East and make a run in October.

Athletics – $61.4 Million

Obviously, it’d be shocking to see anyone but the A’s have the lowest payroll in baseball because they are destined to be among the worst teams in baseball history. Oakland has always had a reputation for trading away star players when they start to make too much money in salary arbitration.

But a payroll of just over $60 million is a joke. In fact, the whole team has been a joke. Ultimately, the A’s are going to be lucky to win 50 games, putting them in exclusive company for all of the wrong reasons. 

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