The Marlins are spending more money on players who aren’t on their current 25-man roster than on those who are.
The team’s $100 million payroll is third-highest in franchise history.
Only last season’s $115 million payroll and the $101 million figure in 2012 rank higher.
But more than half of it — $52 million — is earmarked for players who are either on the disabled list or no longer with the club.
Injured pitcher Wei-Yin Chen’s contract is causing the greatest drag on payroll. Chen, who is trying to work his way back from chronic arm problems, is owed $18 million in 2018, with $8 million of the total amount coming in the form of a deferred signing bonus.
Others on the DL, but still being paid, include third baseman Martin Prado ($13.5 million), starting pitcher Dan Straily ($3.37 million), catcher J.T. Realmuto ($2.9 million), shortstop JT Riddle and pitchers Elieser Hernandez and Brett Graves, who are each earning the major-league minimum salary of $545,000.
The Marlins are also on the hook for the $13 million salary owed to pitcher Edinson Volquez, who was released in December.
Meanwhile, 13 of the Marlins’ 25 players are being paid the $545,000 minimum, and two others are earning less than $580,000. That leaves only 10 players making at least $1 million.
The largest paychecks are being written for second baseman Starlin Castro ($10 million), closer Brad Ziegler ($9 million) and reliever Junichi Tazawa ($7 million).
The Marlins’ bullpen is earning nearly 10 times more than their starting staff: $21.3 million versus $2.21 million. Three of the four starters (a fifth will be announced Monday), are earning the minimum.
Four of the eight starting position players the first two games are also receiving the minimum.
Although the Marlins’ and Phillies’ on-field Opening Day payrolls ranked last among the 30 major-league teams, the Marlins’ $100 million total payroll exceeded that of about seven other teams: the Phillies, Padres, Brewers, Pirates, Rays, White Sox and A’s.
Straily (right forearm strain) played catch at 60 feet on Friday, the first time he’d thrown the ball in 10 days.
His return remains uncertain, however. It could be several weeks.
“Today was just get out there and throw the baseball,” said Straily, who had never before spent time on a disabled list. “That worked. I passed playing catch.”
Even though he is the least experienced of the Marlins’ three catchers, manager Don Mattingly put rookie Chad Wallach back in the starting lineup for a second game in a row.
“We’re going to be doing things all year long that are based as much on building instead of trying to set your lineup,” Mattingly said. “We’re going to use our guys. But I wanted to stay consistent with our lineup today, give it two days in a row.”
Mattingly praised Wallach for his catching skills.
“He is one of the best guys we have as far as handling the pitchers, game-calling — all that we’re comfortable with,” Mattingly said.
The Marlins also have catchers Tomas Telis and Bryan Holaday on the roster.