The New York Yankees were again the most valuable franchise in Forbes’ annual valuations of Major League Baseball clubs at an estimated $3.7 billion, although the gains of the Yankees and others atop the list were modest compared to franchises in middle-to-smaller markets.
The Pittsburgh Pirates (28 percent gain to $1.25 billion), San Diego Padres (26 percent, $1.125 billion), Cleveland Indians (15 percent, $920 million) and even the league’s least valuable team, the Tampa Bay Rays ($825 million), saw a 27 percent gain in value. By comparison, the Yankees saw a 9 percent increase in value.
Forbes’ valuations, released Tuesday, pinned the gains for teams outside major media markets on regional TV deals that have been agreed to or will be up for bid in coming years.
The St. Louis Cardinals’ agreement with Fox Sports Midwest to carry games begins next season and will net the franchise $1 billion per season through 2032. While the Cincinnati Reds rose in value the least (1 percent to $915 million), the team has agreed to an extension with Fox Sports Ohio through 2032 that includes an ownership stake in the regional sports network.
The Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins, Kansas City Royals, Pirates and Rays are up for new regional TV packages in coming seasons, Forbes noted.
The Los Angeles Dodgers ($2.75 billion), Boston Red Sox ($2.7 billion), Cubs ($2.675 billion) and San Francisco Giants ($2.65 billion) round out the top-five most valuable franchises. The Cubs jumped in value 22 percent and moved up a spot from 2016.
There were 23 teams on the Forbes list valued at $1 billion or more.
The Marlins weren’t among them at a $940 million valuation, but they did secure the biggest gain in value (39 percent).