Per usual spring tradition, with Opening Day just around the corner, Forbes unveiled its 2013 MLB franchise valuations on Wednesday. One of the biggest movers? The Cleveland Indians, whose franchise value jumped 36 percent, as the team moved from 26th on the list to 23rd.
Last season, there was a great scamper when the 2012 Forbes report listed the Indians as making money — lots of money. Although operating income dipped by about $8 million this season, the always-controversial valuations have the Indians being worth $150 million more this year.
Value: $410 million in 2012; $559 million in 2013 Revenue: $178 million in 2012; $186 million in 2013 Debt/Value: 27 percent in 2012; 20 percent in 2013 Operating Income: $30.1 million in 2012; $22.9 million in 2013
Cleveland’s franchise valuation jump of 36 percent was the fifth-highest in baseball, behind the Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays. Overall though, this is by far the highest value of the franchise in Forbes’ tracked history dating back to 2004. As a reminder, the Dolan family purchased the team for $323 million in 2000.
Some of the notable changes since March 2012: The turmoil of the 68-94 season, front office turnover that brought in Terry Francona, the sale of SportsTimeOhio, and the acquisition of notable free agents Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. Excitement about the team is as high in March as maybe since following 2007’s playoff run, which was the team’s previous value peak at $417 million.
The three teams that the Indians passed on their route from No. 26 to No. 23 this offseason: Cincinnati, Colorado and Miami. Those three teams now rank No. 24-26, respectively.
Unsurprisingly, the New York Yankees still lead the Forbes rankings by a mile. NYY came in at No. 1 with a $2.3 billion valuation, followed by the No. 2 Los Angeles Dodgers ($1.6 billion), No. 3 Boston Red Sox ($1.3 billion), No. 4 Chicago Cubs $1.0 billion) and No. 5 Philadelphia Phillies ($893 million). The last-place team was the Tampa Bay Rays at $451 million.
Jacob Rosen is a long-time contributor to WaitingForNextYear. He's also a writer online at SportsAnalyticsBlog and Nylon Calculus . An Akron native, Jacob is a current MBA student at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. You can follow him on Twitter @WFNYJacob or e-mail him at udjrosen(at)gmail(dot)com.