Dodgers: Don’t Let Their Massive Payroll Fool You

Andrew Friedman, (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
Andrew Friedman, (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images) /

We all know that the Dodgers have the financial might to play with the big boys of the MLB. Some have dubbed them the “Yankees of the West Coast,” as they seem to throw around money like it’s nothing. So, you’d assume LA has the best record in baseball with a roster full of $20 million players. But, if we take a deeper dive, then we can see how this team has been built and not bought.

At first glance, the Dodgers have a huge payroll at $254,714,379, which puts them above any other team in the majors. However, this new Dodgers FO is focused on bringing down that number which explains their reluctance to part with prospects such as Alex Verdugo and Walker Buehler.

After all, they are getting Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, Austin Barnes and Chris Taylor all for $555,000 or cheaper. All of these names have contributed in a big way this season and will continue to make an impact.

Then you have to take a look at the international guys Los Angeles took gambles on. Yasiel Puig has had a resurgent season and is making $8,214,285, which is very cheap for a player of his caliber and contributions. Kenta Maeda is making a base of $3,125,000 (plus incentives), and contrary to popular belief, he is actually a very capable back of the rotation arm.

What about Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is making $7,833,333, and was a frontline-caliber pitcher for the Dodgers at one point? He’s still a solid back end piece. Those three pieces right there have made contributions to the team in some way or another and for the combined price of almost $20 million. The Dodgers are getting their money’s worth.

Yes, the Dodgers are paying Clayton Kershaw $35,571,428 this season, but he came up through the farm, and you don’t let a guy like that walk away. They also brought up Kenley Jansen through the farm system, and he now makes $10,800,000, which is the 7th highest for a reliever in the league, and that’s a steal if you ask me.

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You also have Justin Turner who signed a $64 million contract this offseason. But, they didn’t just go out and buy him. The Dodgers are the one that took a chance on him when he was a fringe-player, and he turned himself into a star in LA. He had to work his way up from 2014-2016, and they decided to reward him, and deservedly so. So if retaining pieces that you developed and find key classifies you as “big-spenders,” you are highly mistaken.

Then you have the highway robbery of Alex Wood who is making a measly $2,800,000 this season and may be a top-three Cy Young contender at this point.

So, where is most of that Dodgers money going to if it’s not reflected in the salaries on the field?

$21,857,142 is going to Carl Crawford who is out of baseball. They have a combined $15,916,666 going toward Hector Olivera, Alex Guerrero and Matt Kemp. Ohh and by the way, Erisbel Arruebarrena is still alive, and the Dodgers are paying him $5,500,000 this season.

While the Dodgers are paying guys to either not play baseball anymore or play for other teams, they are also paying guys who haven’t contributed or have done very little this year. Take Adrian Gonzalez for example, he who is making $22,357,142 to sit on the DL all year. The same goes for Andre Ethier and Scott Kazmir who are making $17,500,000 and $17,666,666, respectively.

If we’re splitting hairs, the Dodgers have about $153 million committed to players who have made an impact on the team this season. That number would make them the 14th  highest payroll in the league between the St Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals. Yes, the money that the team has to spend on guys who don’t contribute is a pain, but that’s an excellent way to use it if you’re able to.

While I’m of the belief that they should go all in this year and have everyone out for trade, it’s understandable why they are reluctant to let go of young and cheap prospects.

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The Dodgers do have a payroll like no other team in the sense that they use it to their advantage. They are simultaneously building like a small market team while spending like a big market team. And that’s exactly the right move to make to set your team up for now and the future.