MLB seeking source of finance leaks

Updated: August 24, 2010, 10:17 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Major League Baseball is investigating the leak of five teams' recent financial statements to media outlets, some of which showed teams with baseball's smallest payrolls turning a profit while taking revenue-sharing dollars from the sport's more profitable clubs.

The New York Times on Monday reported that MLB has narrowed its search for the leaks, citing an anonymous baseball executive. Baseball officials declined to comment on the probe, according to the report.

On Monday, Deadspin.com published recent financial documents from the Florida Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels. The Associated Press obtained and reported the Pittsburgh Pirates' recent financial statements on Sunday.

"It's a breach of confidential information," Tim Mead, the Angels' vice president of communications, said Monday, according to the Los Angeles Times. "We're going to let it run its course and the appropriate people are looking into it."

Marlins team president David Samson called the leak "a breach of fiduciary obligation and duty by the leaking party."

"It's a crime, and it will be followed up intensely by Major League Baseball and its member clubs," Samson said Monday during a conference call.

The Marlins and Pirates numbers showed that despite having among the smallest payrolls in baseball, both teams turned a profit and received revenue-sharing money from MLB. The Rays also showed a profit and received revenue sharing funds, while the Angels and Mariners both paid into the revenue sharing pool, according to the figures.

• Team financial statements acquired by Deadspin.com show the Marlins netted $49 million during 2008 and 2009, with operating income of $37.8 million in 2008 and $11.1 million in 2009. Samson didn't dispute the figures.

"It was critical for us as a team to make sure we had enough money to put into the ballpark," he said.

The Marlins had the lowest player payroll in the major leagues both seasons -- $22 million in 2008 and $37 million in 2009. Last winter, they reached an agreement with the players' union to increase spending in the wake of complaints team payroll had been so small as to violate baseball's revenue sharing provisions.

•  The Rays received a combined $74 million in revenue sharing in 2007 and 2008, while posting $11.1 million in profit in 2007 and $4 million in profit in 2008, according to the documents. The team declined to comment on the reported figures, according to Tampa-area media outlets.

• According to the documents, the Angels' net income was $10.7 million in 2009 and $7.08 million in 2008. The Angels paid $16.4 million into the revenue-sharing pool in 2009 and $14.7 million in 2008.

Angels officials confirmed the documents were authentic, according to the Los Angeles Times.

•  According to the documents, the Mariners paid a little more than $24 million in revenue sharing in 2007 and 2008. The team made a $17.9 million profit in 2007 but lost $4.5 million in 2008.

•  The Associated Press reported the Pirates made nearly $29.4 million in 2007 and 2008, according to team financial documents, years that were part of a streak of futility that has now reached 18 straight losing seasons.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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