Lesson learned for all imitators: It's not easy to be the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Steve Cohen's Mets declared three years ago that they were coming for the title of Dodgers North, hoping to become some sort of sustainable contender with a massive farm and deep pockets. Instead, Cohen decided mostly to spend whatever it took to run last year's roster back, promoting kids and then tinkering with them throughout the year. As a result, the Mets' payroll is hilariously high, and the team is abjectly rotten -- and that's without Correa!
This may be the point in league history where payroll is least determinative of success. It's a bummer for fans in certain cities who were excited to finally be free of constraints in pursuit of a winner, but it could end up aiding the greater good.
Or, you know, it could allow the franchises who actually do this well, like the Dodgers, to widen the contention gap.
Here's the complete list of 2023 MLB team payrolls in order, as well as our judgment of whether or not these clubs are playoff locks, playoff contenders, something in between, or Chernobyl. It was ... tough to keep the Mets out of Chernobyl.
MLB Standings by 2023 Payroll: Playoff Team or Not?
1. New York Mets ($344,154,676) - 9 Games Under .500. Real close to done.
2. New York Yankees ($279,373,433) - 9 Games Over .500. In playoff position, but no one's satisfied.
3. San Diego Padres ($246,523,152) - Don't think you're getting off light here, either. WOOF.
4. Philadelphia Phillies ($242,290,955) - Get a pass because we know exactly what they paid for. Could win the WS.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers ($228,054,546) - Dodgers buy championships, though, right?
6. Los Angeles Angels ($217,139,376) - The only team on this list praying it jumps higher by next year.
7. Toronto Blue Jays ($212,702,269) - Rounding into form. Contender.
8. Atlanta Braves ($201,494,875) - Worth every penny and more. Good for the Braves Foundation.
9. Texas Rangers ($197,800,318) - Made active decision to bump it this year, and it's paid dividends.
10. Houston Astros ($191,122,663) - They know what they're doing.
11. San Francisco Giants ($185,727,550) - Accidentally $40 million lower than they estimated.
12. Chicago White Sox ($184,389,067) - Highest-ranked catastrophic failure, if Mets/Padres didn't exist.
13. Chicago Cubs ($182,893,099) - Run differential hints they have a run in 'em.
14. Boston Red Sox ($180,462,586) - Chaim Bloom doing what he's asked to do. Give us Duvall.
15. Colorado Rockies ($180,311,714) - Worth it!
16. St. Louis Cardinals ($160,261,049) - Glad Arenado opted in!
17. Minnesota Twins ($154,035,932) - Should win a weak Central. Maybe won't.
18. Seattle Mariners ($139,771,125) - I'm so sorry. Enjoy the All-Star Game.
19. Detroit Tigers ($125,454,733) - Shockingly, this is a team I could see going all in and rising up the payroll rankings in two years.
20. Mlilwaukee Brewers ($121,924,079) - Should win a weak Central. Maybe won't.
21. Arizona Diamondbacks ($115,222,198) - America's sweetheart, and they took care of Carroll. How I loathe you...
22. Miami Marlins ($96,327,669) - Contending with this payroll is the equivalent of hitting .400.
23. Kansas City Royals ($95,580,649) - Chernobyl.
24. Washington Nationals ($93,646,308) - Gray and Ruiz and pray for disease.
25. Cincinnati Reds ($93,206,466) - Beautiful season, but ... wait 'til they have to pay Elly and McLain.
26. Cleveland Guardians ($90,954,176) - Coming for Minnesota's division.
27. Pittsburgh Pirates ($77,314,363) - And this is with a Bryan Reynolds extension! Shameful!
28. Tampa Bay Rays ($76,560,148) - F*** you.
29. Baltimore Orioles ($67,399,437) - Double f*** you.
30. Oakland A's ($60,842,097) - Ejected from the league.
The Orioles and Rays are matching contenders at the bottom of the pile, while bloated teams like the Mets, Pads, Phillies and White Sox have been varying degrees of upsetting. The Astros have earned a pass; they, historically, have figured it out. The rest of the teams at the top could stand to learn a thing or two from the way the Brew Crew and D-Backs have formed their rosters.
When it comes to blending massive payrolls with fruitful farms, though, the Dodgers stay king. Remember that.