To accurately suggest that Forbes Magazine’s annual valuation of Major League Baseball teams should be taken with a grain of salt, one must actually be referring to an individual mass of salt so large that it’s able to easily fill the Grand Canyon. With rare exception, the financial statements of Major League Baseball teams are kept strictly confidential. Making matters even more confusing for objective financial analysts is MLB’s revenue sharing program which makes it worth a team’s while to appear to have made as little money as possible from year to year.

The annual release of the data not only represents one of the few times I’ll drink the Kool-Aid being served by MLB, who each year dismiss the numbers as fiction, but it’s also the only point in the calendar in which you’re likely to find me agreeing with Jon Heyman of CBS Sports:

Nonetheless, the magazine’s findings are worth mentioning for the discussion that it inevitably leads to, as well as its overall conclusions, which tend to give us a hint of baseball’s financial health, even if the financial analysis for individual teams likely shouldn’t be considered Gospel. To that second point, it’s not surprising to learn that Forbes believes that the average value of the 30 MLB franchises has increased an astounding 16% from last year and is now valued at a record $605 million. The magazine goes on to credit local television deals for the massive increase in value, suggesting that in total, MLB teams earned almost a billion dollars from local television rights.

Baseball is doing rather well.

Highlights/Lowlights:

  • The New York Mets lost $40.8 million last year, and were one of two teams, along with the Tampa Bay Rays, whose overall value decreased; and were one of three teams, along with the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Angels to have lost money from an operations stand point last season.
  • The Lost Angeles Dodgers are listed as being worth $1.4 billon, an enormous 75% increase from last year when they were valued at $800 million. Surprisingly, this may be lowballing it, considering recent reports suggesting bids around $1.6 billion being bandied about by potential new owners of the franchise.
  • The Cleveland Indians made more than $30 million from operations last season. That’s more than any other team in baseball.
  • The Miami Marlins generated the least amount of revenue last season, but still managed to increase their franchise’s value by 25%, most likely through their new, largely publicly funded, stadium and rebranding efforts.
  • The Toronto Blue Jays, despite a 25th placed ranking, increased their overall value by 23% (5th highest in MLB), thanks to being one of only three teams without debt while earning the ninth highest operating income in baseball last season.
Once again, all of this information is according to Forbes magazine, and includes information that isn’t always the most accurate.

The Forbes Rankings

Rk

Team

Current Value
($mil)

1-Yr Value
Change (%)

Debt/Value
(%)

Rev
($mil)

Op Income
($mil)

1

New York Yankees

1,850

9

2

439

10

2

Los Angeles Dodgers

1,400

75

41

230

1.2

3

Boston Red Sox

1,000

10

24

310

25.4

4

Chicago Cubs

879

14

66

266

28.1

5

Philadelphia Phillies

723

19

24

249

-11.6

6

New York Mets

719

-4

69

225

-40.8

7

Texas Rangers

674

20

55

233

15.3

8

LA Angels

656

18

3

226

-1.2

9

San Francisco Giants

643

14

16

230

8.8

10

Chicago White Sox

600

14

7

214

10.7

11

St Louis Cardinals

591

14

47

233

25

12

Seattle Mariners

585

30

0

210

2.2

13

Houston Astros

549

16

41

196

24.3

14

Minnesota Twins

510

4

20

213

16.6

15

Atlanta Braves

508

5

0

203

20.7

16

Washington Nationals

480

15

52

200

25.9

17

Detroit Tigers

478

24

39

217

8.2

18

Colorado Rockies

464

12

15

193

14.4

19

Baltimore Orioles

460

12

33

179

12.9

20

San Diego Padres

458

13

44

163

23.2

21

Miami Marlins

450

25

32

148

8.9

22

Milwaukee Brewers

448

19

27

195

19.2

23

Arizona D-Backs

447

13

39

186

27.2

24

Cincinnati Reds

424

13

10

185

17.1

25

Toronto Blue Jays

413

23

0

188

24.9

26

Cleveland Indians

410

16

27

178

30.1

27

Kansas City Royals

354

1

14

161

28.5

28

Pittsburgh Pirates

336

11

38

168

15.9

29

Tampa Bay Rays

323

-2

36

161

26.2

30

Oakland Athletics

321

5

28

160

14.6

 And The Rest

Bill James takes a look at the connection in behaviour between sports fans and prison inmates. [Grantland]

Bob Uecker is going to get a Miller Park statue made in his honour. [Disciples of Uecker]

No matter what local radio personalities might try to tell you, Adam Lind has been one of the worst hitters in all of baseball over the last two years. [DJF]

Today in not a joke: Jason Bay is willing to play center field. [Mets Blog]

FOX Sports is going to ask the following question every Saturday this season with its pre game show: Can Ken Rosenthal’s excellence make up for Harold Reynolds, Mitch Williams, Eric Byrnes and Kevin Millar? [Multichannel News]

Our friend, Craig Robinson writes about attending the first Mexican baseball game of the season, with pictures of high socks included. [Flip Flop Fly Ball]

Is Daniel Bard of the Boston Red Sox headed back to the bullpen? [Over The Monster]

Pittsburgh Pirates starter A.J. Burnett is throwing again, and will test things out with a simulated game on Saturday. [Rum Bunter]

GQ gave St. Louis Cardinals third baseman a makeover. [GQ.com]

If you thought the media in New York and Boston were tough, the Japanese media are even harsher, at least when it comes to Yu Darvish’s Spring Training performances. [Dallas Morning News]

Finally, it appears as though Jose Bautista has inked a sponsorship deal with either Reebok or the letter R. I’m hoping it’s the letter R, just so we get this at the conclusion of every game: “Today’s home run was brought to you by the letter R and the number 19.” [Twitter]