What is the St. Louis Cardinals payroll this year?

The Cardinals brass promised that they would "climb the payroll ladder". Was that the case?
Feb 15, 2024; Tampa, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak
Feb 15, 2024; Tampa, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt III promised that the team would "climb the payroll rankings" this past offseason. Spending during free agency would have been the best way to do that. He spent a total of $146 million this offseason via extensions, free agents, and arbitration contracts, 6th most among all MLB teams.

The organization's typical approach to free agency is conservative, so they won't dole out massive long-term deals to potentially risky players. This process bars them from signing big-name players, but it allows them financial flexibility.

St. Louis Cardinals Payroll 2024

The St. Louis Cardinals have a total payroll of $181 million according to FanGraphs. Typically, FanGraphs' figures align best with reporting from local writers. Guaranteed contracts, arbitration figures, pre-arbitration players, players on the Injured List, and money owed to other teams ($2 million to Toronto as a part of the Paul DeJong trade).

That total gives the Cardinals the 11th-highest payroll in baseball behind teams like the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, and San Francisco Giants. Others such as the Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres, and Seattle Mariners have lesser payrolls. All other teams aside from the Cubs in the NL Central trail the Cardinals.

What is the Luxury Tax Threshold in MLB?

The St. Louis Cardinals' luxury-tax payroll falls in at $215 million, per FanGraphs. The amount is determined by the total of the annual average plus benefits and minor league salaries. The Cardinals have rarely approached the first luxury-tax tier of $237,000,000. Rather, It has seemed like the DeWitt family has viewed $200 million as a "soft" cap for spending. This leaves the team with over $20 million to spend before reaching the first luxury tax threshold.

What are the most expensive St. Louis Cardinals' contracts in 2024?

As is the case most of the time, the veterans on the roster are the most expensive. Nolan Arenado is the most expensive player with a salary of $35 million this year (Colorado is still paying $5 million). Arenado has 3 more years left on his deal after 2024, and he becomes cheaper with each year.

Paul Goldschmidt is the next most expensive player with a salary of $26 million this year. He will become a free agent at the end of the year, and there have been talks recently about him receiving an extension. Arenado and Goldy are the only two players with a salary greater than $20 million this year.

Sonny Gray, Willson Contreras, and Miles Mikolas are the next most expensive players, though Gray's contract is being deferred heavily. Tommy Edman's contract extension places him near the top of the list, but he still trails behind starters Kyle Gibson, Steven Matz, and Lance Lynn.

Ryan Helsley's $3.8 million arbitration deal is the most expensive among those players. Dylan Carlson received $2,350,000 via arbitration, and newcomer Andrew Kittredge comes in third with a salary of $2,262,500 this year.