This offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers have done … nothing. That is, unless you consider manager Dave Roberts confirming that “five or six” younger players will have an opportunity to make an impact in 2023 as a concrete, reliable decision to put the team in the best position possible.
While a number of the team’s promising top prospects taking over at the next level is certainly exciting to an extent, it’s not necessarily the Dodgers’ usual way of conducting business. The front office almost always has one high-profile signing or trade in store each offseason.
Due to the uncharacteristic behavior, one Dodgers insider speculated the restraint on the financial end could be a result of Trevor Bauer’s upcoming suspension appeal, which will be heard by an arbitrator likely within the next month.
Even if a portion of Bauer’s suspension is overturned, it’s going to cost the Dodgers money against the competitive balance tax figure. What’s perhaps worrisome is that Bauer is being represented by the same lawyer as actor Danny Masterson, who just saw his rape case declared a mistrial (a retrial has been rescheduled for March 27).
The court of law can alter MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s punishment for Bauer, which was the largest non-lifetime ban in the history of the league.
Are the Dodgers really not spending in fear of Trevor Bauer’s suspension being overturned?
"“For Bauer, $60 million is at stake. For the Dodgers, perhaps $100 million is at stake, more than enough to sway the course of the team this winter.“It is not the only factor, but it is an important one. Every business prefers cost certainty, and on that score, the Dodgers are no different than any other local company with a balance sheet.“So the amount the Dodgers might owe Bauer is capped at $60 million. However, the Dodgers also are liable for luxury taxes associated with his salary.“For the 2022 season, that could be an additional $18 million, if the league and the union decide to assess the tax retroactively. For the 2023 season, that could be $19 million if Bauer’s salary alone put the Dodgers over the tax threshold, even more if the payroll rose and taxes were assessed at more punitive levels.”"
With about $190 million committed to their 2023 competitive balance tax totals for next season, it would appear as if the Dodgers are operating in such a manner, especially taking into consideration they had no problem letting all of Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, Tyler Anderson, Andrew Heaney, Tommy Kahnle and Chris Martin, with only Turner still possessing a possibility to return.
Fans have claimed the “excuses” being used aren’t sufficient. Since when are the Dodgers a team that prioritizes prospects over proven talent? Since when do the Dodgers (or any team) opt to not get better in fear of a certain blockbuster move not being “welcomed” (which has been a big discussion surrounding Carlos Correa)?
There’s certainly a desire for the Dodgers to reset their payroll to lessen the luxury tax hit. It’s not an uncommon thing for big market teams to do. But it’s a bit shocking they’re standing pat with a roster that’s clearly way worse than it’s been the last few years because of something that may not end up even affecting them. And even if it did, the Dodgers have led MLB in attendance since 2013.
Losing a few million should they end up owing Bauer and the league would hardly be a hit to them. So what’s going on here?