The big-spending New York Yankees suddenly have a lot of company.
This year, 11 baseball teams will spend more than $100 million in payroll and 15 will spend at least $90 million, according to this report. The most noteworthy new free-spenders are the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at $157 million. They spent a large fortune to pry Albert Pujols away from the reigning World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals and CJ Wilson away from their division rival Texas Rangers, who are coming off consecutive American League pennants.
A close second is the suddenly flush Florida Marlins, who technically spent money they haven’t even made yet off their gorgeous new ballpark to lure Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhrle and Heath Bell to South Florida. Save for the Mets, the National League East should be an extremely competitive division and fun to watch, partly due to the Marlins’ expected resurgence. If my Syracuse Orange do not make it to the Final Four (and major doubt was cast earlier today by the crushing loss of Fab Melo), my back-up plan is to head to Miami to watch the Yankees play the Marlins in an exhibition at the new stadium (and, of course, to work on my tan).
But no one will ever outspend the Yankees in terms of total payroll, even with the Steinbrenners and Brian Cashman furiously working to get down to the magic $189 million threshold by 2014. The Yankees have absolutely no intention of lowering their payroll anywhere close to the point that they could be confused with the old Florida Marlins. But at least now they have some company closer to the top.