What does coming within a few innings of winning the World Series get you? When it comes to team value, nothing.
The Tampa Bay Rays, defending American League Champions and one of the more successful and innovative teams of the last decade, was the only club to show no year-on-year gain in Forbes’ annual MLB team valuations.
Contrast that with the Red Sox and Cubs: each struggled through lackluster seasons and recently traded star players to cut back on payroll, but both gained 5% in value over the previous year. They were the third- and fourth-most valuable teams, respectively. The World Series-winning Dodgers were second at $3.57 billion, and the Yankees continued their reign at $5.25 billion, nearly equal to the combined value of the bottom five teams.
The more valuable teams have negotiated more lucrative TV deals, but a handful of mid-market clubs punched above their weight. The White Sox, the 14th-most valuable team at $1.69 billion, trailed only the two L.A. teams in 2020 TV money. The Mariners, just behind the White Sox at 16th, had the 7th-most lucrative TV deal.
With contentious collective bargaining negotiations on the horizon, the list highlights a core source of tension between players and owners: wins have little apparent correlation to team value. Even in a year without fans, 29 out of 30 teams saw their value rise, regardless of how they did in the standings.