Cardinals: How to spend more on payroll and be more cost-effective at the same time

John Mozeliak was all over the media telling us this offseason the Cardinals would increase payroll. They did, by less than $1 million.
St. Louis Cardinals v Tampa Bay Rays
St. Louis Cardinals v Tampa Bay Rays / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages
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In 2021 the Cardinals had a payroll of $151,469,994 and that placed us 11th in all of MLB. In 2022 the Cardinals’ payroll was $152,439,695. So technically John Mozeliak was not wrong when he says the front office increased the payroll.

Comparing the Cardinals to the other teams though, they've dropped from 11th in spending to 17th this year. This is all info you can find on Spotrac.com

Statista.com shows the Cardinals' revenue in 2022 was $358M and that makes them the team with 13th most revenue. According to Forbes in an article written in March of this year, they estimate the Cardinals franchise as being the tenth most valuable in baseball with a price tag of $2.5 Billion; with a “B”. This is a team that had the money to spend.

If we were to have just stayed even at the 11th ranking, the Cardinals would have needed to spend $186.8 million. That would have been another $34 million on top of what we spent this year. If we were to match the revenue ranking of 13th, we would have had to spend $180.8 million or another $28 million.

What could the Cardinals have done with the extra $30 million? How about some pitching? This is what they have had this season.

NAME

AGE

W

L

ERA

G

GS

IP

WHIP

SO9

SO/W

Mikolas

34

6

8

4.27

26

26

147.2

1.28

6.30

3.55

Montgomery

30

6

9

3.42

21

21

121.00

1.25

8.00

3.09

Flaherty

27

7

6

4.43

20

20

109.2

1.55

8.70

1.96

Matz

32

4

7

3.86

25

17

105.00

1.33

8.40

3.06

Wainwright

41

3

7

8.78

15

15

66.20

2.09

5.30

1.50

Liberatore

23

2

5

6.12

12

11

50.00

1.64

6.3

1.6

Not very pretty. But we all knew going in this wasn’t a World Series-winning pitching staff.

The pitching staff isn’t the only problem the Cardinals have this year and those issues will be addressed in a future article. What I am wondering is why the Cardinals didn’t spend the extra $30 million and get it right during the off-season. What would $30 million have gotten them? How about these two pitchers?

NAME

AGE

W

L

ERA

G

GS

IP

WHIP

SO9

SO/W

Zach Eflin

29

12

7

3.67

23

23

132.10

1.03

9.00

7.33

Nathan Eovaldi

33

11

3

2.69

19

19

123.20

1.01

8.10

3.26

Zack Elfin signed a three-year contract with the Rays, a team that already had Tyler Glasnow, Shane McClanahan, and Drew Rasmussen. His contract averages $13 million a year and at the end of the contract, he is still only 31 years old.

Eovaldi signed a two-year contract with the Texas Rangers for an average yearly salary of $17 million each year. Looking at his stats I think he is earning his money.

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Neither contract is by today’s standards, particularly expensive. With one being two years and the other three, the length would have fit this team’s needs perfectly. Together they total the $30 million they should have spent.

Think of what this season could have been like with a starting staff of Eovaldi, Elfin, Montgomery, Mikolas, and Flaherty. All they had to do was maintain the payroll ranking they had.