Dodgers 2018 Payroll: To Spend or Not to Spend?

(Mandatory Credit: John Minchillo/Associated Press)

Now that the two biggest headliners of the winter’s hot stove market—Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton—have made their respective 2018 destinations known, baseball fans can shift their attention to the Winter Meetings on Sunday, and start considering the secondary wave of available players, which really should have never been secondary at all.

Some fans of the Dodgers have already expressed a bit of disappointment in not landing either Ohtani or Stanton, but the truth of the matter is that Los Angeles already has a solid 40-man roster with no gaping holes whatsoever. What’s more, there’s the premise that the front office crew is still diligently trying to steer the club’s payroll under the luxury tax threshold, and while 2018 may prove to be a difficult year to accomplish that task, 2019 is definitely in the realm of credibility.

Nevertheless, the potential acquisition of Stanton was an intriguing one, leading many fans to imagine what the middle of the Dodgers’ daily lineup would look like with the reigning NL MVP Stanton, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Yasiel Puig and others. Yet, if the management crew is still excited by the potential upgrade of a right-handed swinging outfielder, guys like J.D. Martinez and Lorenzo Cain are still available for the taking.

And this season’s pitching class of free agents, although not overwhelmingly star-studded, is still very deep. Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish and Lance Lynn are among the available starting arms, while Wade Davis, Brandon Morrow, Greg Holland and Addison Reed are the big names among the relievers open for the taking.

All of these potential acquisitions are fascinating, as are the infinite number of trade possibilities which exist, especially those formatted to dump off a significant portion of the Dodgers’ otherwise dead salary. Obviously, I could be wrong, but I still believe that Los Angeles sticks with the guns on the existing 40-man, and re-evaluates the club’s needs when the deadlines approach next summer. I do believe that the team will acquire a left-handed hitting middle infielder in some shape or form, as well as taking on a few more reclamation projects in hopes of strengthening the bullpen.

In theory, a prospective trade sounds great to fine tune the roster and perhaps strategically dump some dead salary, but the big wheels have already shown how much they value the stud prospects in the organization. And, besides, who in their right minds will assume any amounts of the ridiculously high contracts of Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir or Brandon McCarthy when health issues could conceivably keep all three on the pine for the majority of the upcoming campaign.

If anyone has trade value, it’s catcher Yasmani Grandal, but we’ve already discussed that the prudent move may be to hang on to the veteran switch-hitting backstop, at least until the deadlines approach, giving guys like Kyle Farmer, Will Smith and Keibert Ruiz some time to polish their respective skills on the advanced levels of the farm.

In 2017, the Los Angeles payroll topped $244 million, far and away the highest in the bigs, and the club will be forced to pay a luxury tax for the fifth year in a row.

According to USA TODAY Sports, the Dodgers, who paid $31.8 million in taxes a year ago, will again be hit with another bill exceeding $30 million, calculated at 50% for a third-time or more offender. It also includes a 12% surtax on the $40 million above the $195 million payroll, and 42.5% for the total amount above $235 million.

From a fan’s perspective, many believe that the organization should do everything possible to reach for the team’s first championship since 1988; however, from a business and financial perspective, continuing to unnecessarily pay a constantly increasing monumental fee makes little sense at all. Some may argue that in the end, the extra money spent is returned in the investment, but again, all of the millions of dead dollars being shelled out to several players who may not even be on the 25-man roster is borderline absurd.

At the end of the day, a few new capable faces to fill the small roster holes would certainly be nice, but don’t be surprised if the Dodgers stay put with the core that’s already in place. And if they do, there’s definitely no reason to be disappointed, because this club is still very, very good with the players they have right now.



15 thoughts on “Dodgers 2018 Payroll: To Spend or Not to Spend?

  1. In retrospect, it’s not hard to understand why Andrew didn’t go out to get Stanton. We’ll hate that this year but probably be happy in a year or two when they have the funds to do something even more necessary. Not that they would have ever signed Tanaka, but I believe he opted in to the remaining years of his contract so technically he isn’t available. If we don’t bring back Morrow/Watson, our bullpen will be mediocre at best, other than Kenley. Baez, Fields, Avilan, etc. are OK for the last couple of guys you use, but if they are the ones leading up to Kenley in the 6th, 7th, 8th, we have a problem. I assume they will sign a couple of strong relievers to fill that bridge……………………….or maybe surprise us all and bring in Iglesias or Rivero in a trade. Dennis I suggest you hide your man Broussard in a corner until after the Rule 5 draft. There might be a nice opening for him this year if we still have him.

    1. Knowing how Friedman and his troops aren’t afraid to dip into the lower levels of the farm, it wouldn’t surprise me if either Yadi Alvarez or Dennis Santana are considered for bullpen spots before season’s end. Both are fully capable of throwing over 100, plus Santana has that splitter and wipeout slider. And he’s on the 40-man. He wrote me last week and said he’s been at Camelback all winter so far, and he really doesn’t plan on spending much time back home. That’s impressive.

      1. Don’t get too attached to Santana. I wouldn’t be surprised to see us make an attempt to get Ozuna. If that happens, it could be all hands on deck (except for Buehler and maybe Ruiz). Isn’t one of Yadi’s main problems a lack of consistent control? If so, probably not a candidate for the bullpen. At this point I think I would rather wind up trading Yadi and keeping Santana. Maybe not quite as high a ceiling but, as you point out, a very good work ethic. Not sure that applies to Alvarez, although he’s still very young. By the way, how did you happen to make a pen pal of Santana? Does he read the blog or is there a different connection?

      2. Anyone else in that category now? In other words a highly thought of prospect that you would trade now because you don’t expect him to fulfill all of his potential.

      3. Assuming we could get something good by including him in a package, I would tend to agree.

  2. What does Toles have to do to get some respect. He seems at least equal to Yelich but all conversations drone on as if left field is a disaster area. I was disappointed in not getting Ohtani but not so much in Stanton. I think it’s OK to go to war with an outfield of Toles/Taylor/Puig.

    1. I’m a huge Toles fan. He’s one of my favorite Dodger players, but let’s be fair here. Yelich has compiled his stats and respect over almost 2500 major league at bats. Toles has about 200 (less than 1/2 a normal season). I would love to see him get lots of playing time in 2018 but before we could even begin to compare him to Yelich he needs to get some more at bats under his belt so we can see if he can maintain what he has shown us so far.

  3. Andrew said agon is playing 1st if healthy, so bellinger has to play in the outfield, so I don’t see an ozona trade happening. If they do make a trade for an outfielder it would be in spring training, and agon can’t play.

    1. Assuming that Agon is healthy (very large assumption), I think they’ve indicated he wouldn’t play against lefties. I still wouldn’t mind getting an Ozuna type to play left, with Bellinger in center when Agon plays and move Taylor to 2nd in those situations. Still think two strong relievers to replace Morrow/Watson are our most important priority.

  4. Don’t get me wrong Jeff, I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, I just don’t think they will eat the 9 mil they just signed Forsyth for. I’m hoping puig is finally ready to be that ozona type your looking for, his at bats in the playoffs were better, he started showing some patients, and not trying to do it all himself. Hey if they do go out and get someone I won’t complain.

    1. They definitely wouldn’t eat Forsythe’s contract. He’s probably worth what he signed for but we might be better served to let someone else pay that contract. I actually expect that wherever he plays next season, he’ll have a better year than he had in 2017. Forgetting the prospects that Ozuna would cost us (which I admit is a ridiculous premise for this conversation), would you rather have Forsythe at 9 mil or Ozuna at 11? That’s just a rhetorical question and I realize you can’t ignore the prospects it would cost. I’m Ok with whatever they do for the offense, even if it’s very little. Don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but it’s the bullpen that’s the major problem as currently constructed. That’s what we need to fix first.

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