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What Can the Arizona Diamondbacks Afford in Free Agency?

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Aug 8, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Randy Johnson salutes the crowd during his number 51 retirement ceremony prior to the game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Observations

As a caveat to all of this, the Diamondbacks currently have $33,658,333 in player salary obligations for 2016. This makes sense since they did not make a qualifying offer that was accepted and did not resign any expensive players, while simultaneously letting some walk (Aaron Hill).

Although I did not include the data, and it is a bit of an anecdotal piece of data, one trend I visually saw while pulling these numbers was that teams that have sporadic up and down years, like the Diamondbacks, see very little variation in attendance from year to year. Teams like the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates, who were so bad for so long, then his a prolonged number of playoff caliber season, saw a multiple season uptick in attendance over the long-term (both teams have had sustained success for three years or more after runs of more than a decade of losing records). In each case, their annual attendance has increased more than 20% since the start of their winning years.

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The Diamondbacks, under owner Ken Kendrick, have shown a tendency to spend during the season if a playoff spot is available. In 2010 and 2011, the playoffs were on the horizon and both seasons the team added payroll. In 2012, the team stayed put for the most part, even though the playoffs were a possibility. This last season, they were fighting to stay close to the wildcard, but by the trade deadline, a prolonged losing streak probably made the management team reconsider adding salary.

The data shows, on the surface, that Arizona Diamondback fans go to the games at roughly the same rate regardless of the team winning or losing and that the Diamondbacks have the ability to go substantially north of the mythical $100 million payroll mark.

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