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Big League Stew

How much money does a small-market team like the Seattle Mariners make? $5.86 million in 2012

Big League Stew

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(USA Today)

We're getting a rare peek at annual baseball financials from The Seattle Mariners, who turned a profit of $5.86 million in 2012, according to The Seattle Times.

The Mariners, as we all know, are one of those smaller-market teams with a low payroll and low attendance that finds it tough to compete financially against the behemoths in New York and Los Angeles.

Last season, the Mariners ranked 26th in attendance (just over 21,000 per game). Their 75 wins were the 11th least in the league and their $84 million dollar payroll was 10th lowest. Add to that a still-crippled economy and it's not exactly the formula for a team like the Mariners to flourish.

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Felix Hernandez is rich, even if the Mariners aren't. (USA Today)

And, make no mistake, $5.86 million isn't "flourishing." Yes, that's Richie Rich money to you and me. But to a big-market team like the New York Yankees, it's piggy-bank money.

Still, it's interesting to know that the Mariners are at least on the good side of the spreadsheet, despite an on-the-field product that's lacking in both success and interest.

The Mariners made their profits public — again, something we don't see very often from big league teams — because of a profit-sharing deal the club has with Seattle's Public Facilities District Board. The board owns and oversees Safeco Field. Greg Johns at MLB.com has a thorough breakdown of that deal, for you economics lovers.

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To put this $5.86 million in a little more context: The club just agreed to pay ace pitcher Felix Hernandez $175 million over seven years. He'll make $19 million this season, $22 next season, $24 in 2015 and upward from there.

If you'd like to assess that $5.86 million profit figure as if it were a player: It could pay the contract of someone like Kendrys Morales (who the M's are paying $5.25 million this season) and Joe Saunders (who they're paying $6.5 million).

In other words: Nice to have, nothing to get too excited about.

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