Every team in baseball is now worth at least $1 billion, according to the financial magazine’s calculations, with the Brewers being valued at $1.175 billion.
That’s still one of the lower valuations in the league — the Brewers rank 24th, ahead of only Cleveland, Oakland, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Tampa Bay and Miami — but their value increased by 14% with their run to Game 7 of the NLCS, tied with Boston for the second-highest value jump in the past year, and behind only the Yankees, who are now worth an estimated $4.6 billion after a 15% increase last year.
Mark Attanasio and his investors paid approximately $223 million for the team back in 2004, so it’s safe to say they’ve made out pretty well over the past 15 years. To his credit, he’s put a decent amount of that back into the organization, whether it’s buying the Carolina Mudcats or investing tens of millions into the new training facility and renovations in Maryvale. The team also set a new franchise record for Opening Day payroll of $122.5 million this year, according to Cot’s Contracts.
Despite the small market size, the Brewers were still in the middle of the pack in terms of revenue, bringing in $288 million last year before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
If you’re the type to argue that these numbers mean the Brewers should try to spend more than they already do, Forbes says the organization had an operating income of $66 million last year, tied for 8th in the majors with Houston. The Dodgers led all of baseball with $95 million in operating income. The Cubs were the only NL Central team with more income than the Brewers, making $87 million.
Overall, profits for Major League teams spiked, from an average of $29 million in 2017 to $39.7 million in 2018. It’s probably not a coincidence that it comes at the same time average player salaries have fallen over the past couple years.
Teams have long argued that the Forbes valuations aren’t accurate, often claiming that they’re struggling to make money. Without access to the team’s books (or knowing what kind of accounting tricks they use), though, the Forbes numbers are the best thing the rest of us have to work with. If you’re curious on the methodology, here’s how Forbes says they come up with their numbers and rankings:
Revenue and operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) measure cash in versus cash out (not accrual accounting) for the 2018 season. Our figures include the postseason and are net of revenue sharing and stadium debt payments for which the team is responsible. Revenues include the prorated upfront bonuses networks pay teams as well as proceeds from non-MLB events at the ballpark. The nonrecurring $50 million each team received in 2018 from the sale of a stake in BamTech to Walt Disney was excluded, as were profits or losses from team-owned RSNs.
Even if the Brewers or others want to argue this doesn’t necessarily mean the Brewers have the spare cash to go out and sign a high-profile pitcher or two that may happen to still be free agents, one would hope that this at least shows the value of trying to field a competitive team and make the postseason.