What is the Oakland Athletics payroll this season?

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Oakland Athletics v Detroit Tigers
Oakland Athletics v Detroit Tigers / Mark Cunningham/GettyImages

The Oakland Athletics have never been big spenders during owner John Fisher's tenure. They weren't particularly big spenders before that either, but they've been the laughingstock of the league the last few years.

Though they've been last in league payroll just three times in the last 20 years, the highest they've finished was 18th, back in 2007. Since then, during their "big spending" years when they were approaching $100 million in cash payroll, they still never finished a year higher than 23rd in total dollars spent.

That approach certainly hasn't changed since the start of the pandemic, or since the team has committed to leaving Oakland for good. Fisher and GM David Forst have stripped the team down to its bones in order to save every possible penny on their way out of town.

They've signed just two multi-year contracts since the 2019-2020 offseason, those being the two-year deals given to Aledmys Diaz and Jace Peterson prior to the 2023 season. The A's traded Peterson just six months after signing him to that deal and Diaz is currently on the 60-day IL with no expected return date.

A's President Dave Kaval has claimed that the team will increase it's payroll in the ramp up to the opening of their new stadium in Las Vegas but there are mountains of evidence that suggest they won't so we'll believe it when we see it.

Athletics payroll in 2024

The Athletics have an estimated cash payroll of $61,305,000 heading into the 2024 season, per Cot's Contracts. Their projected CBT payroll figure is currently at $81,494,929, again per the essential Cot's Contracts. Both of those figures are good for 30th in MLB.

Their highest paid player entering this season is Ross Stripling, who will earn $12.5 million, followed by Alex Wood who clocks in at $8.5 million. The A's are the only team in the major leagues who don't have any guaranteed salaries beyond the 2024 season. Everyone on the roster will either be a free agent, arbitration eligible, or still under team control at the end of this year.

What is the CBT threshold in 2024?

The CBT line, otherwise known as the Luxury Tax line, is set at $237 million in 2024. That figure is collectively bargained and is set to increase to $241 million in 2025, and to $244 million in 2026. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires after the 2026 season, and those figures will have to be renegotiated beyond that.

Teams who exceed the CBT line are subject to a tax between 20% - 50% of the total overage. There are four tiers to the CBT line, the first being up to $20 million over. There are also penalties for being between $20-$40 million over (12% surcharge), $40-$60 million over (42.5% surcharge), and the "Steve Cohen tier" for anything beyond $60 million past the tax line (60% surcharge).

Clubs that have gone over the tax for three straight years and go $60 million over the tax line would be subject to a 110% tax on every dollar over the $237 million threshold, as well as being subject to the loss of draft picks.

The A's are currently $155.5 million below the first CBT threshold. There are precisely zero scenarios where they would breach the tax line, or even come anywhere close to it in 2024. The same can be said for the following three seasons when they're scheduled to play in a minor league park in Sacramento.

The A's have plenty of money to spend, and wouldn't face any penalties for doing so. However, they've chosen to take the path of least resistance and spend as little as humanly possible on their way out of Oakland.

It's a shame that the league office has allowed the A's to be run so poorly over the last two decades. There have been some very good teams over the years that have just never gotten the financial support required to truly compete for a World Series championship. The A's will do what they can with what they have, but it won't be enough in their final year in Oakland.