We've obtained financial statements for a number of baseball teams — containing perhaps some of the most closely guarded information in sports — and they offer a rare glimpse at how MLB franchises do brisk business in the modern era. ...There were links to PDFs or Excel files of financial statements from the Pirates, Rays, Marlins, Angels, Mariners, and Rangers (Parts I, II, III). The Pirates' data, leaked to the Associated Press, show that the team has been quite profitable.
[T]ake a look at the documents below, paying close attention to the teams' operating income, their revenue-sharing figures, the size of their TV deals, and the amortization of player contracts (a neat trick of accounting pioneered by Bill Veeck that allows an owner to turn his team into a lucrative tax shelter). If there is a thread running through all of these financial statements, it is the incredible ability of baseball teams — whether they're winners or losers, big market or small, "rich" or "poor" — to make their owners a fat pile of money.
The Times reports that an MLB investigation is focusing on insurance companies that do business with various clubs.
Maury Brown has been writing about and analysis the data at Biz of Baseball.
At Fangraphs, he asks: Will Leaked MLB Financials Kill Revenue Sharing?:
[W]hile the leaked documents are an incredible look inside how clubs truly operate, greedily we should demand more. Those at the top of MLB's revenue-making ladder should be placed under the same scrutiny. In a perfect world, the leaker of the MLB club financials would have graced us with the Yankees and Red Sox figures ...
What was often said, but not given hard numbers to back up, has become common knowledge: even those with the lowest player payrolls in baseball, and some with historically terrible records in the standings, are profitable.