The Yankees and the Dodgers could probably take a tip or two from the Houston Astros’ book on cost efficiency.
The worst team in baseball is on track to make an estimated $99 million in operating income this season — nearly as much as the estimated operating income for the previous six World Series champions combined — according to the money guys over at Forbes. At 46-83, the Astros are at the absolute bottom of the barrel in Major League Baseball and have the worst winning percentage of any major league team since 2005.
Sixty-four major league players currently make more individually than the Astros’ current 25-man active payroll makes collectively. The Yankees pay nine payers more than the Astros’ payroll.
That’s exactly how the team has put itself in place to generate so much in operating income. Astros owner Jim Crane has slashed payroll expenses to about $21 million — compare that to the Yankees’ $203,445,586 and the Dodgers’ $220,395,196 — in 2013. Houston traded or released four of its five players making over $1 million per year.
The team is deep in a rebuilding period where the focus lies on filling in the minor league system, landing untapped talent from overseas, trading for crops of prospects and holding onto as many utility players as possible.
If the Astros were to use their current gains to take on future players, $99 million could make a pretty big dent, considering the fact that the team could have taken on the contracts of the entire starting lineup for the NL All-Star team this year for a paltry $84 million.
Update: The Astros disputed these facts in a statement released Monday afternoon, claiming that the Forbes article “includes significant inaccuracies.” See the full release below.
“We are very disappointed that, earlier today, Forbes released an article that includes significant inaccuracies relating to the Astros’ finances. The Astros do not disclose financial information. However, as MLB will confirm, the information reported in the Forbes article relating to the Astros’ revenues, the Astros media rights fee from CSN Houston, and CSN Houston’s per subscriber rate are all significantly inaccurate. As a result, the conclusion about the Astros operational profit is significantly inaccurate.
The Astros will continue to operate the team in a fiscally responsible manner that will make the City of Houston proud. We are very excited about our accomplishments and we remain steadfast in our commitment to this rebuilding process. We have established a basis of young talent on our MLB roster that will continue to improve. And our minor league system is now one of the best in MLB. As our young prospects develop, we will move them up to the Major League roster and increase our payroll to a level that will allow the Astros to compete for World Championships. The success of CSN Houston is a vital piece of that process and we continue to work toward establishing full distribution.”