Cleveland Guardians TV income leaves major payroll spending questions

The Cleveland Guardians were supposed to spend more, but with many free agents flying off the market, there’s not really a lot left to look at, save for the bargain prove-it deals the organization tends to hand out after the prime choices are al gone.

Cleveland fans are paying attention, as the Guardians have done little to improve the roster, while the Minnesota Twins have let it be known they’re ready to win following the huge signing of shortstop Carlos Correa and by trading for pitcher Sonny Gray.

The Guardians cut several deals with their own players on Tuesday, avoiding arbitration. currently, the payroll sits at $49.3 million. Cleveland, the Pirates and the Orioles, by far, have the three lowest payrolls in the league.

It’s tough to digest because the front office said it would spend a little more for 2022. The fact that they haven’t and a look at their local TV deal will make you saltier than the Lake Erie salt mine.

Back in February, Cleveland’s Paul Hoynes looked at the Guards’ TV deal and wrote the following about how much income the franchise makes from showing its games on Bally Sports.

“The Indians current [regional sports provider] contract with Sinclair-owned Bally Sports can be traced back to December of 2012 when Paul Dolan sold SportsTime Ohio to Fox Sports. That deal runs through 2027 and is worth an estimated $47 to $52 million a year.”

Obviously, a team has other expenses, but based off Hoynes’ report, it looks like Cleveland has its payroll covered with the $50 million-ish it makes in  television money every season. Not a good look, especially since the front office has done nothing to upgrade the current roster. According to the ABJ’s Ryan Lewis, 17 players are slated to make the league minimum this season.

Cleveland Guardians can still be competitive

For all their penny-pinching ways, the Guards should be somewhat competitive this season behind a pitching staff fronted by Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale, Cal Quantrill and Triston McKenzie. Imagine if they had invested in a corner outfielder.

The White Sox will be the favorites, while the Twins are greatly improved. Also watched Detroit, who gained on the Guards last year.

In other bad news, remember Cleveland’s interest in Trevor Story? The shortstop signed a six-year deal with the Red Sox. It was always too good to be true as you know deep in your heart the Guards were never competitive.

The Guardians and Terry Francona are banking 2022 on their homegrown players and they do have some intriguing prospects. That said, they trotted out Oscar Mercado and Bradley Zimmer as the starting corner outfielders in the spring training opener.