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Monday, February 26, 2024

Diamondbacks Plan Record Payroll Despite Unsettled Revenue Outlook

  • Defending NL champions show optimism while areas of uncertainty grow.
  • Team owner insists rival Dodgers are not violating rules with Ohtani deal.
Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ 2024 revenue outlook remains unsettled: The club describes itself as a “free agent” with regard to its local media rights, and the team is still searching for a long-term facility solution while playing in 26-year-old Chase Field.

But that isn’t stopping the Diamondbacks from planning on record payroll spending.

The defending National League champions are projected to dish out at least $162 million in total 2024 payroll, up 13% from 2023’s $143 million and 66% from 2022’s $97.8 million.

The forecast also shows an unusual level of optimism compared to some other smaller-market MLB franchises. While clubs such as the Minnesota Twins and Milwaukee Brewers are grappling with their own revenue impacts, particularly those related to local media, the Diamondbacks are looking to expand on their unexpected 2023 success, recently acquiring third baseman Eugenio Suarez and pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez.

“We’d like to think we can have greater revenue streams going into next season, when more people want to come out and watch our team play,” Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick said. “And we’re going to reinvest. The Diamondbacks are going to go on the field [in 2024] with the highest payroll in the history of the team.”

The Diamondbacks were the second MLB club to turn to the league to produce and distribute its games locally as the Diamond Sports Group bankruptcy continues. That situation could extend into 2024, but the club is also considering an over-the-air model not unlike its pro sports neighbors, the Arizona Coyotes and Phoenix Suns.

No Shade In Dodger Blue

The Diamondbacks continue to compete in the NL West against the Los Angeles Dodgers, winners of 10 of the last 11 division titles and now buttressed by two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani. But Kendrick said the rival club is not doing anything improper with its unprecedented $680 million in contract deferrals.

“They’re playing by the rules,” Kendrick said. “They got a great player who is going to be an addition that makes them more competitive. But the economics are not so titled in a way that puts them at an incredible advantage over us.”

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