The quintessential money publication has published their annual appraisal of MLB teams, and values are up all over the league. The average value of an MLB franchise is now $376, with the Devil Rays at the bottom of the list—they’re currently worth $209 million—and the Yankees at the top, worth just over a billion. The Red Sox and Mets follow the Yanks with values of $617 million and $604 million, respectively, and the next-most valuable team is the Dodgers at $448 million.
It is not surprising that the Yankees are worth so much more than other teams in the league; they have a dramatic history and employ some of the most popular players. What is interesting is how much the Yankees affect the income of other teams. Revenue sharing, a league rule that requires the richest teams to pay out a percentage of their net revenue to help the poorer teams be competitive, serves as a way to level the playing field—not completely (or even close), but enough to allow the smaller-market teams a chance to make a big trade move or entice free agents. Last year alone, the Yankees paid out $77 million towards the revenue sharing system, a big part of the reason that teams like the Royals and the Twins increased in value by more than 20% this year. In addition to the revenue sharing, all MLB merchandise sales profits are distributed equally among the 30 teams, despite the fact that 27% of the sales are for Yankees merchandise. The Yanks are also responsible for boosting attendance when they’re on the road; ticket sales can increase by as much as 25% for the home team when the Bombers are in town.
The MLB has become an incredible stronghold of wealth, and it is clear that the wealth is dispersed incredibly unevenly between the teams. Teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets will probably always be at the top of the money spectrum, but the effects of revenue sharing, new stadiums, team moves and the like on the other 20 or so teams will be exciting to see pan out. After all, who isn’t secretly hoping that the Rays will move to Vegas, build a tremendous stadium and surge up the value list?
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