Dodgers Roster: Early Thoughts on 2023 Payroll

Just like every other typical offseason, the question of how much money the Los Angeles Dodgers are willing to invest in team payroll is at the top of the conversation list for many fans.

Last year, once the smoke settled on the season, the Dodgers ended up spending $270.8 million total on payroll, which led the entire majors, according to Spotrac. The general thought among many fans was that despite the team’s early exit from the playoffs, it might have been the most talented group of players the team had in recent decades, at least from an offensive perspective.

Regardless, the general belief is that the team will lean heavily on a youth movement for the beginning of 2023. As it stands, the team is about $50 million under the $233 million tax threshold. Eric Stephen at True Blue LA has put together an informative worksheet, including the salaries of the minor league players who would fill out the roster should the season begin today.

Players like Miguel Vargas and James Outman, who both saw action last season, might be contributors early on. It seems like the team could be targeting a lefty-hitting outfielder on the free-agent market, as made evident by their strong pursuit of Kevin Kiermaier. However, should the team not bring in any help from the outside, it could open the door for Outman, who bats left-handed, to receive some significant playing time at the beginning of the season.

Lefty-hitting infielder Michael Busch, who has a fair amount of outfield experience, could see some early opportunities as well.

Starting pitching could be an entirely different story. In recent seasons, we’ve seen the Dodgers hit hard and early by the injury bug. In 2022, there was no room for lefty Tyler Anderson in the starting rotation at the beginning of the year, but the veteran went on to be one of the team’s most effective pitchers. According to Baseball Reference, 12 different pitchers started games for the Dodgers last year, which included two opener-games from Caleb Ferguson and Brusdar Graterol.

Right now, it looks like we can cement in Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May in for Opening Day slots, with someone like Ryan Pepiot contending for the fifth starting spot. As much as we love Kershaw, we really can’t depend on any concrete production from him. Any early absences could possibly allow contribution from youngsters such as Gavin Stone, Michael Grove and Bobby Miller, along with journeyman minor leaguer Andre Jackson.

And that’s not even mentioning anything about a bullpen that could have a bunch of missing key pieces aside from a healthy Evan Phillips.

For as much as any of us don’t want to hear about Trevor Bauer, his 2023 contract could factor into what the team does with its budget, primarily if management wants to stay under the tax threshold. If, for whatever reason, the MLB decides to change Bauer’s suspension, the Dodgers could conceivably be on the hook for his $32 million salary in 2023, despite the fact that he likely wouldn’t even throw a pitch.

For now, all we can do is stay patient and wait. It could end up being a tight divisional race in the West in 2023, with the Dodgers making a potential splash at the trade deadline to reinforce their roster with the bare essentials to land in the postseason.

13 thoughts on “Dodgers Roster: Early Thoughts on 2023 Payroll

  1. Oh, I think Kershaw proved he can still be effective and win but I think the question you raise is will the injury bug hit him again. Would be great to get 30 starts rather than the 22 of last season.
    It will also be interesting to see if Pepiot learned from last season and is able to find the strike zone more consistently.
    I’m also anxious to see Stone and Miller at the MLB level.


    1. I am also excited to see if Pepiot, Grove and Jackson stepped it up to force their way into playing time in 23. I am hoping Stone gets the opportunity to prove his worth. Miller I am sure we see in 23 at some point.
      Do they sign or trade for a SS? Is it going to be Lux or do they give the long shot Amaya a try and keep Lux as another utility guy but primarily at 2nd? I think they sign JT but only if they are going to still allow Vargas to get a long opportunity. Vargas will possibly struggle at first as he has struggled initially for a bit before adapting. Outman in Center with Thompson?
      I am hoping to see the new blood and maybe some grit and enthusiasm from the rookies.


  2. Good to see you back Dennis. Hopefully you’ll have a chance to post every so often.

    Re Bauer – not sure why you think it’s likely he won’t pitch here if his suspension is reduced. My social and political leanings tend to be left of center so I suppose I should be demanding that Bauer never put on a Dodger uniform again, but I have yet to see any concrete evidence of his crime.

    Would I want the guy to marry my daughter? That’s a definite no. But from the slight amount of evidence I’ve seen, I’m (at this point in time, subject to revision) leaning toward believing him rather than his accuser.

    Until I’m convinced otherwise, if his suspension is reduced, I would have absolutely no problem putting him into the 2023 Dodger rotation.

    Others of you may vehemently disagree with me, so have at me.


    1. I think it’s B.S. that the MLB is dragging this Bauer thing out like this which is basically hijacking the Dodger’s off-season and their plans. Until he’s officially off the payroll Friedman has to plan like he will be on the books. I think this is going to be a little bit of a down year compared to recent seasons but they appear committed to going with their young players under team control over big free agent signings. Really really didn’t want to lose Trea Turner but I guess he was never going to come back anyway no matter the offer. The Padres offered more than Philly and he turned it down. I think losing him will really hurt us. Having that on base machine with speed and good fielding is really going to change the team. Now I guess they may put Betts back at leadoff and put Outman in CF in place of Bellinger. I think we should have at least gave him one last year to try to figure things out because his talent is undeniable. The Cubs could have the steal of the off-season if he finds his swing again. Now we have lost most of our young core from the last 5 years like Belly, Seager and Joc. They need to get a deal done with Justin Turner to at least be the DH and pray Muncy has a better year. I didn’t like losing Anderson or Heaney with Buehler out this year and Kershaw’s back always an issue we have thinned out our starting pitching. They need to go get at least a veteran swing man that can be the 5th starter or in the bullpen. I would go get our old friend Ross Stripling but I would also make a play for Carlos Rodon. A rotation of Kershaw, Urias, Gonsulin, May and Rodon would be very formidable. Maybe he would take a one year deal for a nice amount to hit the market again next season. They clearly are trying to keep enough payroll space to sign Buehler, Urias and Gonsulin to deals though which is smart.


      1. You’ve never accused me of having logic before, Fred.

        Yes, perhaps he could be traded, but we still need a fifth starter so if his suspension is reduced and if he opts in to this third year, we’d better make sure we trade him for a good pitcher.

        I happen to think that no team would give us equal value for him, or even close to it, but I could be wrong.


    2. Bauer, consent or no consent he beat the @#$ out of that woman and has reportedly done the same to others. If Friedman and Kasten had done their due diligence they would have found all the smoke.
      I would prefer he not play for the Dodgers but that is me and I have daughters and many nieces of ages that are prey for male predators.
      The League keeping this hanging over the Dodgers heads is a reason for them to be very upset. Unless they know the outcome. It will be a public relations nightmare if the panel lets him off.
      The Bauer fiasco has been an expensive black mark on the Dodger Org. It will be interesting how this plays out…whenever it finally does.
      I like the youth movement they may go with in 23. Resets the Luxury and gets them ready for gree agents in 24 and beyond. Nd Urias’s contract is due in 24 and he is a Boras customer so may be gone…


    3. Hey Jeff… Maybe I shouldn’t have said that so matter-of-factly about Bauer. However, if I were a betting man, I’d dump a load of money on the chance he won’t pitch for the Dodgers again. I think Bumsrap is more on the right track with a potential trade, but I can’t see any other team picking him up — just my opinion. Bauer will probably be riding into the sunset in MLB purgatory, just like our friend Yasiel Puig.

      I’m hoping to write at least one column each weekend. My schedule is absolutely crazy, and with all the writing I do for my job, there isn’t much mental energy left over. We’ll see what happens as the season progresses.


      1. If you have the energy, a weekend column would be welcomed. If not, maybe you can just throw in a comment once in a while.

        Conversations around here are always more interesting when you’re in the middle of them. Same with Andy. I hope you’ll throw out comments, Andy, even if you aren’t motivated to write columns all that often.

        As for Bauer, it’s going to be fascinating to see how that plays out, although I’m beginning to think that MLB’s strategy is postpone the final decision until Bauer is about 50, so there is no chance he puts on a uniform again.

        I think that once a final decision comes down from the arbitrator, Bauer will have plenty to say and plenty of evidence to present, backing up his claim. That could go a long way in determining whether he’d be tradeable.


      1. By the way, I heard from a reliable source the team might give Scotty Van Slyke a shot as a right-handed version of Jason Heyward. Source told me that SVS is in the best shape of his life. If I’m not mistaken, I think he played in the Ecuadorian League last year.


      2. I don’t think SVS has the speed to be another version of JH, but you never know.
        Imagine having two Jason Heywards next year instead of just one.


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