Injuries have always been a part of baseball. However, astronomical salaries have not. Today’s MLB teams are faced with a decidedly modern problem: flushing tons of cash down the toilet on injured superstars with gigantic contracts. And never has this problem been more apparent than in 2013.
Of course, it’s not that the sum the league as a whole is paying to injured players is abnormally high. According to the New York Times, there are currently 164 players on the disabled list, accounting for $606,000,000, or 19% of the league’s entire payroll. When you consider that the 164 players makes up about 22% of the total players on the thirty 25-man rosters, 19% of payroll doesn’t sound too bad.
What makes 2013 interesting, however, is that a few teams—especially the Yankees—have a high number of extremely high-priced stars earning big bucks on the disabled list. And this adds up to a staggering daily bill for players that can’t even play.
Want to see exactly what the most-injured teams are paying to guys on the DL? Then click on the arrows and we’ll get started…
DL Payroll: $100,656 per day ($4,194 per hour)
The Bucs are the first team to crack the $100K/day mark, and the biggest chunk of that is what they're paying starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez. He makes $8.5 million a year, but he's been out since the start of July with a dislocated elbow and is not going to return until early August at the earliest—which isn't going to help Pittsburgh's playoff drive. (Wow, does that sound weird.)
13. Pittsburgh Pirates
DL Payroll: $113,688 per day ($4,734 per hour)
Up next in the $100K/day club we have the San Francisco Giants. They're paying pitchers Ryan Vogelsong and Jeremy Affeldt $11 million not to pitch this year, but the biggest hit to their checkbook (and their chances of repeating as world champs) is the injury to center fielder Angel Pagan. The guy is making $8.25 million this year, but he hasn't played a game for the Giants since late May, when he injured his hammy. And after re-injuring the same muscle in a rehab game in June, it looks like he may not play for them again this year.
12. San Francisco Giants
DL Payroll: $114,528 per day ($4,772 per hour)
The declining Albert Pujols (sorry, Albert, I love you but it's true) probably should be on the DL for his bad feet and knee, and at some point he still may be shut down for a bit. If and when that happens, the Angels will jump about 10 spots on this list. For now, their priciest injured player is pitcher Jason Vargas, who's making $8.5 million on the 15-day DL.
11. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
DL Payroll: $118,632 per day ($4,943 per hour)
The Rangers had to figure that, at some point, Lance Berkman would be on the disabled list with his $10,000,000 salary. His shockingly healthy (but not shockingly productive) 2011 campaign with St. Louis was preceded by injury-filled years, and it has been followed by injury-filled years, as well. But they certainly weren't counting on pitchers Matt Harrison ($5.2 million) and Neftali Felix ($2.9 million) going on the 60-day disabled list.
But hey, at least they activated Yu Darvish today, which bumped them from number six all the way down to number ten.
10. Texas Rangers
DL Payroll: $127,200 per day ($5,300 per hour)
The Reds have three pitchers making north of $4 million on the 15-day DL right now: Jonathan Broxton, Sean Marshall, and Johnny Cueto. It's no wonder they're falling behind the Cards and Pirates in the NL Central. Luckily they still have a 5-game lead over Arizona in the wild card standings, so if they can get healthy, they still have a shot at the postseason.
9. Cincinnati Reds
DL Payroll: $131,544 per day ($5,481 per hour)
The crazy thing about the Red Sox is that, even though they have eight players totalling $23.9 million in salary on the disabled list—including high-priced closer Joel Hanrahan and ace starter Clay Bucholz—they're thrilled to "only" be paying $131,544/day to injured players this year. Last year they were probably paying that much to Carl Crawford.
8. Boston Red Sox
DL Payroll: $133,248 per day ($5,552 per hour)
The Brew Crew has $20.3 million in salary on the DL in Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez. However, at least they'll be getting some relief now that they won't have to pay the last $3.25 million of Ryan Braun's 2013 salary (you know, because he was suspended for the rest of 2013 for being a cheater).
7. Milwaukee Brewers
DL Payroll: $155,544 per day ($6,481 per hour)
The Braves already had pitchers Eric O'Flaherty ($4.32 million) and Paul Maholm ($6.5 million) on the DL when B.J. Upton and his fat $13 million contract went on the DL on July 12...and yet, the Braves are still in first place by seven games. Imagine where they'd be if the Upton Brothers were actually producing offensively!
6. Atlanta Braves
DL Payroll: $222,840 per day ($9,285 per hour)
The Mets are paying through the nose for injured pitchers this year. The least of them is Jon Niese, who's making just over $3 million. After that it's Shaun Marcum ($4 million) and Frank Francisco ($6.5 million), followed by the always-injured Johan Santana, whom the Mets will pay $25.5 million not to pitch at all this season.
5. New York Mets
DL Payroll: $234,360 per day ($9,765 per hour)
Everyone already knows that All-Star douche Josh Beckett has no problem collecting a $17 million paycheck for doing nothing, but he isn't the Dodgers' only problem. They also have workhorse Ted Lilly ($13 million) and Chad Billingsly ($11 million) on the DL—and that's a relief from earlier in the season, when Matt Kemp and his $20.25 million salary were out of the lineup.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
DL Payroll: $255,504 per day ($10,646 per hour)
The Phillies are paying Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay a combined $40,000,000 not to play right now, and that makes the $5,000,000 they're paying Mike Adams seem like nothing. However, at least Ryan Howard has a slight chance of actually playing this year. After surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee a few weeks back, the team says he could be back in September.
Of course, by then it probably won't matter, so he might as well just sit out the rest of the season.
3. Philadelphia Phillies
DL Payroll: $262,992 per day ($10,958 per hour)
Before Matt Holliday and his $17 million salary went on the disabled list, the Cardinals were paying just $4,362 and hour to players on the DL, which comes to just over $100K per day. However, with Holliday joining the likes of Chris Carpenter, Rafael Furcal, Jaime Garcia, and Jason Mott in the infirmary, the team's daily DL bill has skyrocketed to over a quarter million, putting them in second place.
Of course, the money St. Louis is paying injured players is still nothing compared to the Yankees...
2. St. Louis Cardinals
DL Payroll: $541,440 per day ($22,560 per hour)
The Bronx Bombers have a veritable who's who of players who were in their primes six years ago on the DL right now, including Kevin Youkilis, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, and of course, Alex Rodriguez. The combined DL salaries of those players alone? Yeah, it's $96,125,000, which is a full three million higher than the median payroll of all MLB teams.
And you can't feel sorry for the Yankees, either. They have almost unlimited financial resources, they've chosen to throw ridiculous amounts of it at really old players, and this is the result.