Kansas City, Mo. One year after a franchise-record $47.6 million payroll netted the worst record in team history, the Kansas City Royals will start the 2005 season with a payroll of $36.3 million, the club's lowest in four years.
Club officials said the lower payroll reflected the team's youth movement, not a reluctance to pay higher salaries to players who deserved them.
"I've tried to be very candid with our fans throughout the offseason that the direction of the club is not about the payroll," general manager Allard Baird said. "With young players who have limited service time -- in some cases, no service time -- it means low salaries. That's just reality."
The payroll list includes 25 players on the opening-day roster and two players who will begin the season on the disabled list.
First baseman Mike Sweeney's $11 million salary is more than 30 percent of this year's payroll. Meanwhile, Kansas City's 2004 pitcher of the year and player of the year, Zack Greinke and David DeJesus, will make $330,500 and $320,000.
Outfielder Terrence Long is the second-highest-paid Royal at $4.7 million, with $975,000 being paid by San Diego under terms of the trade between the teams. Eighteen players are making $500,000 or less, including four who are making the league minimum of $316,000.
Tampa Bay is expected to have the lowest payroll at $30 million, and Pittsburgh's payroll is projected to be about $36 million. All of the other major-league teams expect to enter the season with a payroll of at least $42 million.
Royals owner David Glass said he was willing to spend to acquire players who fit the club's profile.
"We have needs we're trying to fill," he said. "If we could get a good, young corner outfielder with some punch, that would really help. It isn't just about payroll. We had the biggest payroll in our history last season and lost 104 games."