By Barry Janoff
April 11, 2017: Stating that "long gone are the days when MLB was replete with teams bleeding cash," a new report reveals that the average value of MLB’s 30 teams has topped a record $1.53 billion, driven by "new local television deals that are increasing at roughly a two-fold rate, as well as surge in profitability."
MLB was led by the New York Yankees, valued at $3.7 billion (up 9% versus 2016), a spot the franchise has now had for 20 consecutive seasons, according to the 20th annual Baseball Team Values from Forbes.
The Top Five also includes the Los Angeles Dodgers ($2.75 billion, up 10%), Boston Red Sox ($2.7 billion, up 17%), World Series champion Chicago Cubs ($2.67 billion, up 22%) and the San Francisco Giants ($2.65 billion, up 18%).
The Top Ten also includes the New York Mets ($2 billion, up 21%), St. Louis Cardinals ($1.8 billion) up 12%), Los Angeles Angels ($1.75 billion, up 31%), Philadelphia Phillies ($1.65 billion, up 34%) and the Washington Nationals ($1.6 billion, up 23%).
The Toronto Blue Jays (No. 16) moved up six spots from last year, with a valuation of $1.3 billion, a 44% increase from 2016.
At the low end were seven franchises Forbes valued below $1 billion, including the AL champion Cleveland Indians ($920 million), Cincinnati Reds ($915 million), Oakland A's ($880 million) and the Tampa Bay Rays ($825 million).
It certainly pays to have Theo Epstein as a GM/president — the Red Sox (2002-2011) and Cubs (2012-present) are both among the Top 4 MLB teams in value. Just as it pays to win the World Series, with only the Kansas City Royals not among the Top 10 highest valued teams to have won a championship since 2006.
The MLB average value of teams was second behind the NFL ($2.39 billion) but ahead of the top 20 teams worldwide in soccer ($1.49 billion), the NBA ($1.36 billion) and the NHL ($517 million).
MLB’s rise in value was also reflected in the 2017 Fan Loyalty Index from Brand Keys, NY, which showed that MLB for the first time in a decade passed the NFL as No. 1 among fans
According to Forbes, "Values were driven higher by new local television deals that are increasing at roughly a two-fold rate, as well as surge in profitability."
"During the past (few) years, the average MLB team has increased in value at an 11.5% rate unlike, say, 15 years ago when as many as a third of the teams were losing money on an operating basis," Mike Ozanian, assistant managing editor for Forbes, said in a statement. "There are a few teams losing money today, which is a big reason why values have increased."
In 2016, MLB’s 30 teams posted a record average operating income of $34 million, 52% more than the 2015 season, which was the previous record.
The Dodgers had the highest Opening Day payroll this season at $225.6 million, according to Forbes.
They were followed by the Detroit Tigers ($199.98 million), the Yankees ($195.3 million), Giants ($181.5 million), Red Sox ($178.8 million) and the Cubs ($176.8 million).
At the other end of the roster, the five teams with the lowest Opening Day payrolls were the Pittsburgh Pirates ($91.5 million), Oakland A’s ($81.7 million), Tampa Bay Rays ($71.4 million), San Diego Padres ($61.4 million) and the Milwaukee Brewers ($60.8 million).
The average MLB Opening Day payroll was $135.5 million, according to Forbes.
Adding to MLB’s profit status, Major League Baseball Advanced Media, equally owned by each of MLB’s 30 teams, is worth approximately $15.5 billion, which includes its BAMTech division, valued at some $3.5 billion.
Baseball’s stakes in BAMTech and MLBAM could contribute between $400 million-$500 million in value to each of baseball’s 30 teams, per Forbes.
MLB Team Values
1. New York Yankees $3.7B
2. Los Angeles Dodgers $2.75B
3. Boston Red Sox $2.7B
4. Chicago Cubs $2.68B
5. San Francisco Giants $2.65B
6. New York Mets $2B
7. St. Louis Cardinals $1.8B
8. Los Angeles Angels $1.75B
9. Philadelphia Phillies $1.65B
10. Washington Nationals $1.6B
11. Texas Rangers $1.55B
12. Atlanta Braves $1.5B
13. Houston Astros $1.45B
14. Seattle Mariners $1.4B
15. Chicago White Sox $1.35B
16. Toronto Blue Jays $1.3B
17. Pittsburgh Pirates $1.25B
18. Detroit Tigers $1.2B
19. Baltimore Orioles $1.18B
20. Arizona Diamondbacks $1.15B
21. San Diego Padres $1.13B
22. Minnesota Twins $1.03B
23. Colorado Rockies $1B
24. Kansas City Royals $950M
25. Miami Marlins $940M
26. Milwaukee Brewers $925M
27. Cleveland Indians $920M
28. Cincinnati Reds $915M
29. Oakland A’s $880M
30. Tampa Bay Rays $825M
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