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MLB Teams Reaching Payroll Limits?

Migrant Redbird

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Fox Sports: Notes on potential Peavy trade, Garciaparra, Looper preference for NL, etc.

While the Cardinals are comfortable with their rotation and not interested in Looper, the recession clearly is affecting the way they do business. Club officials are telling agents that they are out of money, a stunning development considering that the team will host the All-Star Game this season.

In a better economy, the Cardinals probably could have banked on the All-Star Game to boost season-ticket sales and other revenues.

Not this season.

Of course, this may just be a negotiating ploy by a team that isn't willing to pay any of the available free agents their current asking price. However, I would note that Forbes lists the Cardinals' "major corporate sponsors" as Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Ford Motor, AT&T, and Best Buy. Of those, at least two are corporations with serious financial problems, and the others may be re-evaluating their advertising budgets in light of the economic circumstances.

In addition, the Cardinals ownership group consists of about 15 wealthy investors, the majority of whom reside in Cincinnati rather than St. Louis. Recently, there was a report that the principle Mets owner lost an estimated $400M in the Madoff Ponzi Scheme. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that one or more of the Cardinals ownership group were among the wealthy investors bilked by Madoff, leading the owners to direct Mozeliak not to add anymore pricey free agents to the 2009 payroll.

I would point out that the Cardinals still have open arbitration cases with Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel. Ludwick is asking for $4.25M and Ankiel wants $3.3M, figures which they probably have a reasonable chance of winning. Once those cases are settled, the Cardinals might get back into the FA market in a small way. Or, they may wait to see how the rotation shapes up in spring training to see if they need to go after another starter. If Carpenter is fully healthy -- and reports indicate that's the case -- the Cardinals could have a relatively strong rotation of Carpenter, Wainwright, Lohse, Wellemeyer, and Piniero. There are a couple of decent options if Carpenter isn't available -- Kyle McClellan, Brad Thompson, and some minor leaguers -- but the Cards might want some additional FA insurance.

Are there any other teams which are rumored to have reached their payroll ceilings?

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