This graphic shows just how cheap the Tigers have become

Detroit Tigers chairman and CEO Chris Ilitch watches practice during spring training at TigerTown in
Detroit Tigers chairman and CEO Chris Ilitch watches practice during spring training at TigerTown in / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

It's no secret that Chris Ilitch has tightened the Tigers budget significantly compared to his father. Mike Ilitch would do whatever it took to bring a championship to Detroit. Chris does not appear to have that same drive, or will to win.

But we've never quite gotten the idea of just how cheap this organization has become over the years. We didn't really have the context...until now.

An account on X, formerly known as Twitter, called BrooksGate, recently posted a graphic that compares MLB team payrolls from all the way back in 2007, to projected Opening Day payrolls from FanGraphs for the 2024 season. Before we get into the Tigers, we have to mention the Oakland A's. Their projected payroll is $18 million LESS than it was in 2007. Their payroll in 2007 was $79 million. That's just pathetic.

But not far ahead of them are the Tigers, who had a payroll of $95 million back in 2007, but have a projected payroll of $110 million in 2024 — just $15 million more than it was 17 years ago.

Now, obviously you have to account for things like inflation. $95 million got you more in 2007 than it does today. Their payroll was probably around league average that season. A league average payroll in 2024 is roughly $130 million. So to have their payroll be just $15 million more than it was in 2007, given all of the circumstances, is pretty embarrassing, especially since the luxury tax threshold continues to climb.

What makes it even more pathetic was by the mid 2010s, the Tigers payroll was well around $150 million, which was top five in baseball. It would eventually eclipse $200 million. Those teams were making the playoffs year in and year out. The Tigers have not made the playoffs in a decade. For the most part, the payroll has done nothing but go down every year.

We don't expect the Tigers payroll to see a dramatic increase anytime soon, which is sad. There's a clear correlation between spending money and winning. The Rangers had a top 10 payroll last season and won the World Series. Eight of the last 10 World Series winners have had top 10 payrolls in the league. The payroll doesn't necessarily need to be over $200 million. But $180? Heck, even $150? That's not too much to ask. The latter is not even that much above league average.

Miguel Cabrera and his $30+ million per year came off the books. They still didn't spend a significant amount. So what's the excuse now? We likely won't ever find out.