It wasn’t the world champions Chicago Cubs. It wasn’t the uber-popular Boston Red Sox. It wasn’t the chic, three-time World Series champion San Francisco Giants. And it wasn’t the most valuable team in baseball, the New York Yankees.
No, the most profitable team in baseball in 2016 was the Philadelphia Phillies.
That’s according to Forbes, which annually crunches the numbers of incoming cash flow and expenditures to come up with this list.
Most profitable MLB teams via @Forbes— Kurt Badenhausen (@kbadenhausen) April 11, 2017
1. Phillies $88M
2. Cubs $84M
3. Red Sox $79M
4. Giants $78M
5. Astros $76M
According to Forbes’ Kurt Badenhausen, one of the major reasons for the Phils’ uptick in profitability was their $5 billion, 25-year deal TV deal with Comcast SportsNet, which went into effect at the start of last season.
Their end-of-year payroll for 2016 was $119 million, according to Forbes, 20th in MLB. It was the least they’ve doled out in salary since 2007 ($101 million), but that was still 8th-most that season.
.@Forbes Phils lost $80M over past 5 yrs, but new $5B TV deal & $60M lower payroll than 5 yrs ago produced big change.— Kurt Badenhausen (@kbadenhausen) April 11, 2017
Overall, the Phillies ranked as the 9th-most valuable team in the league coming into 2017, worth $1.65 billion, up 34% from the year before. The team generated $325 million in revenue last year and had an operating income of $87.7 million, according to Forbes.
They gathered in $84 million in gate receipts, thanks to a down year in attendance, drawing just over 1.9 million people to Citizens Bank Park last year (23,644 on average), ranking No. 24 in all of baseball. Just four years before they led baseball with 3.6 million fans.
Obviously, the cry for the Phillies to be big spenders, given the team’s profits, will grow louder. And general manager has said in multiple interviews that the team is ready to pursue free agents and higher-priced players in trades when the window of opportunity presents itself.
Financially speaking, the Phils are set up well to compete in what could be the greatest free agent market following the 2018 season.