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Report: Yankees now worth an estimated $6 billion, with 12 of 30 MLB franchises topping $2 billion mark

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Major League Baseball has five years of labor peace, newfound advertising revenue streams, expanding playoffs and a pair of new national broadcast deals.

Little surprise, then, that an annual survey of franchise values shows a record level of appreciation for many of them.

Forbes' annual analysis of estimated MLB franchise values shows the New York Yankees again topping the list and hitting the $6 billion plateau, joining the Dallas Cowboys (an estimated $6.5 billion) as the most valuable global franchises.

MLB imposed a lockout that spanned 99 days as the league and MLB Players' Association engaged in a long-awaited showdown after years of salary stagnation despite growing revenues. While players made some gains in the new agreement, which was ratified March 11, future revenues will still outkick expenditures.

A view of Yankee Stadium in the Bronx in 2021.
A view of Yankee Stadium in the Bronx in 2021.

The expanded playoffs will be worth between $65 million to $100 million annually, easily covering the $50 million bonus pool established for high-achieving young players in the new CBA. Advertising patches on helmets and jerseys, which will take effect in 2023, will provide both local and national streams of revenue.

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Meanwhile, most big-market franchises are still in the early stages of multi-billion dollar local TV contracts, even as the industry struggles with the existential crisis of cord-cutting and how to stream games to fans without upsetting broadcast partners. The Los Angeles Dodgers, per Forbes, received $189 million in local TV revenue in 2021.

The Dodgers are in the ninth year of a 25-year, $8.35 billion TV deal with Spectrum SportsNet LA. The club ranks second in Forbes' rankings, at $4.075 billion.

The top four teams all appreciated between 13-14%, with the Boston Red Sox ($3.9 billion) and Chicago Cubs ($3.8 billion) both enjoying new revenue streams and diversifying sports portfolios. Red Sox owner John Henry's Fenway Sports Group owns English Premier League soccer club Liverpool, while the Ricketts family, which owns the Cubs, is bidding for the EPL's Chelsea FC.

That effort comes two years after Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts claimed "biblical" losses were suffered during the 2020 COVID-19 shutdown, which kept fans out of stadiums but also reduced player salary costs by roughly two-thirds.

Twelve of the 30 MLB franchises are now estimated to be worth at least $2 billion, with the Washington Nationals' 12% appreciation now putting them over that mark. The Miami Marlins remained flat at $990 million and the lone club valued below $1 billion; owner Bruce Sherman assumed significant debt when he purchased the club in 2017, likely depressing that figure.

Forbes' estimates also do not include ancillary income such as teams' stakes in their own regional sports networks nor accompanying real estate developments. That would only increase values for clubs like the Cubs and Atlanta Braves, whose corporate owner, Liberty Media, reported vigorous profits for the team's Battery development adjacent to Truist Field in suburban Atlanta.

The Braves are now worth an estimated $2.1 billion after a World Series title run that kept Truist and its accompanying development humming through October.

While MLB and its franchises often dispute and never confirm Forbes' estimates, eventual sales of franchises often closely reflect the projections. Only the Braves' Liberty Media is required to report operating incomes and losses.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Yankees join Cowboys as the most valuable global franchises