Damn Lies and Statistics

Figures don’t lie, but liars figure… and sometimes they are not even liars – they are just using unreliable figures. There are several websites that keep track of teams salaries.  In this instant case, I am speaking about the salary obligations of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 2018 season.  You would think stuff like this would be cut and dried, but it’s evidently not. Let’s look at a couple of Dodger players and what they will allegedly make in 2018:

Clayton Kershaw

  • Baseball-Reference says Clayton Kershaw will make $35, 571,000.
  • Cots Contracts says the same thing.
  • True Blue LA has the number at $33,000,000.

Yasiel Puig

  • True Blue LA has Yasiel Puig at $7,500,000.
  • Baseball-Reference has Puig making $9,214,000.
  • Cots Contracts says the number is $9,214,000 as well.

There are several other discrepancies as to how much certain players make, but when I check Baseball-Reference and Cots Contracts and they are the same, then I go with that.  Nothing against the guys at True Blue LA – they are pretty much right on about most things, but I prefer using the other two sources, unless they can show me who I am wrong. Maybe they know something I don’t…

One player all the sites agree upon is Matt Kemp, who is now the second highest paid player on the Dodgers (YOU HEARD ME RIGHT), and makes $21,500,000 for the next two years.  He is a Dodger for sure in 2018, unless Jesus and Moses join the Dodgers front office and perform some amazing miracle.

Disclaimer

I am not a CPA, but I have a couple who work for me and I am friends with several others (including AC who will likely audit what I post – hopefully he doesn’t turn me in). Anyway, I have calculated the Dodgers payroll for 2018 and it currently stands at $177,937,000 which includes guesses at arbitration salaries, but does not include the following:

  • Andre Ethier’s $2.5 Million buyout (does it apply to 2018?).
  • Kenta Maeda’s bonus payments which could be $10 million.

That puts the Dodgers right at $10 Million under the Luxury Tax Threshold.  Kenta Maeda could lose his spot on the rotation and that might save $5 to $10 million, but he would certainly not be a happy camper and would likely demand a trade after 2018, but that could be a plan.

The Dodgers Will Be Under The Luxury Tax in 2018 – Bank on it (no pun intended)

So, the fact of the matter is, the Dodgers have very little wiggling room. They could trade Forsythe, Grandal and/or Maeda and possibly save $$25 to $30 Million in order to sign someone like Darvish, but would that make them better?  They could trade Forsythe, Grandal and/or Maeda for prospects and flip those for Gerrit Cole, but would that make them better? By the way, McCutchen or Cain are not coming to LA.

More Questions

  • Can Taylor be an effective 2B?  I am not so sure, but I do know this:  Logan Forsythe is an elite 2B and he’s in a contract year.  I also think Taylor will be a very good CF.
  • Is Will Smith ready for the Show?  Kyle Farmer is not the backup catcher. He’s just not!  Will they miss Grandal?
  • Would the Dodgers be better with this rotation:
  1. Kershaw
  2. Darvish or Cole
  3. Hill
  4. Wood
  5. Ryu
  6. Buehler
  7. Oaks

What about this lineup?

  1. Taylor  2B
  2. Seager  SS
  3. Turner  3B
  4. Bellinger  1B
  5. Puig  RF
  6. Barnes  C
  7. Toles  CF
  8. Hernandez/Pederson  LF

The Wild Card in all of this keeps coming back to the Second Highest Paid Player on the Dodgers.  Someone posted that if FAZ were to read what we write, they would laugh because we are amateurs.

Yes We Are!  Guilty as charged!

Good Reads:

This article has 37 Comments

  1. Toles is fast, but his routes to the ball seem a little confused sometimes. And his arm gets a little maybe not-ish at times. IDK. Pretty happy with Taylor at center but do realize that may not be where he ends up. Is Forsythe still around. He could have a better year if he’s even on the team. Darvish or Cole. Is that possible, and staying under the tax limit too. IDK. All this stuff will be figured out by Feb 19 or so, then we can debate the trade deadlines and other stuff coming up during the season.

  2. Cot’s has two schedules. One is the actual salaries, and then there is a second schedule – Dodgers Tax Tracker. That is the schedule I use for luxury tax. Eric has a Payroll Tracker that he maintains up to the most current information, and then periodically he will publish a tax tracker. Eric does not use signing bonuses in his payroll schedule, simply the salary. Baseball Reference only publishes the salaries, and they use Cot’s as their source.
    .
    Kershaw’s 2018 salary is $33,000,000, which is what Eric uses. Cot’s adds an annual signing bonus allocation of $2,571,428 to the salary for their calculation of $35,571,428. However, the AAV of the 7 year $215M contract is $30,714,286, which is the salary used for luxury tax purposes.
    .
    Puig’s 2018 salary is $7,500,000, which is what Eric uses. Cot’s adds an annual signing bonus allocation of $1,714,286 to the salary for their calculation of $9,214,286. Puig’s AAV is $6,000,000 which is used for luxury tax purposes.
    .
    The luxury tax trackers for Cot’s and Eric Stephen also have differences because a lot of what is published is estimated. Eric uses MLBTradeRumors’ arbitration projections in his tracker, while I am not sure what Cot’s source is. MLBTradeRumors has the 8 players projected arbitration salaries of $24.2M, while Cot’s uses $30.2M.
    .
    Eric estimates the balance of the 25 man roster to be $4.0M, while Cot’s estimates it to be $4.75M.
    .
    Eric estimates the balance of the 40 man roster to be $3.0M, while Cot’s estimates those salaries to be $2.25M. Thus, both published the non contract/arbitration payolls to be $7.0M, but got there different ways.
    .
    Player benefits are also calculated in the luxury tax. Eric estimates those benefits to be $15M, while Cot’s estimates the benefits to be $14M.
    .
    Both publish additional payroll amounts at $7M each, calculated in different manners, but both coming to $7M.
    .
    Add them all up and Eric estimates the luxury tax to be $180M, while Cot’s comes in at $183.7M.
    .
    Maeda is unpredictable because we really do not know what his role will be throughout the season. In 2016 he earned an additional $8.9M in bonuses, while in 2017, those incentive bonuses were $4.9M.
    .
    To be safe, let’s use Cot’s $184M, and estimate $6M in incentive bonuses for Maeda, for a luxury tax estimated tracker of $190M, or $7M below the tax threshold.
    .
    To be safe, all future player transactions will have to be salary (AAV) neutral, or in favor of LAD. FAZ may want a little wiggle room come trade deadline. FAZ will take whatever he can get as far as cash going back to the team they can trade Kemp to. If it is $3M (which is less than .5WAR, take it and run. Every little bit helps.

  3. Dustin Nosler makes a decent case for acquiring McCutchen.

    http://dodgersdigest.com/2017/12/20/andrew-mccutchen-makes-an-incredible-amount-of-sense-for-the-dodgers/

    From the Dodgers point of view he would have to fit comfortably under the CBT threshhold, and the talent going over to the Pirates would have to be modest, given that McCutchen is only guaranteed for one year. I’m sure it would take some ingenuity to fit him in under the threshhold, and still maintain flexibility to add elsewhere before or during the season. But I think we know that if the Dodgers braintrust has anything, it’s ingenuity. I wouldn’t begin to guess how this would be done, but FAZ has a lot more information than I do, so I’m sure it’s something they could pull off. And I’m sure it would involve another team or teams, since Kemp would have to go in order for it to happen.

    Lorenzo Cain I see as a lot less likely, but not because of the draft choice. Acquiring Cain would only cost money, and would not involve the cost of current prospects, which by itself might mitigate the loss of the draft pick. Also, if the Dodgers are interested in any of the 2018-19 free agents, they would likely not want to give Cain anything more than a one year contract, something he’s unlikely to agree to.

    Another thing that makes me think that the Dodgers might be willing to surrender a draft pick for a free agent is the fact that the Dodgers will be able to spend freely again on young international talent come July 2nd. Maybe those signing rules have changed since the last time the Dodgers spent freely in 2015. Whatever the case, it’s certainly something the Dodgers might take into consideration when deciding whether or not it makes sense to surrender a draft pick.

  4. On Mlbtraderumors site today during their online chat the question was asked. What aren’t the White Sox looking to trade for a bad contract plus a prospect, such as Kemp plus a prospect for a lower level prospect. The response was maybe they are right now.

    This is an interesting possibility and after the trade for Kemp I could see something like this happening. Just another way to get below the luxury tax.

    1. Maybe the prospect they want in order to take Kemp’s contract is Walker Buehler.

      I still say it’s possible that Kemp can be productive and they will wait and find out unless overwhelmed.

      Any deal such as they are suggesting would most likely be there next season. I get that Kemp is loathed by many, but stranger things have happened… although a comeback by Kemp would be pretty strange.

      1. I’m actually in the let’s see what Kemp can do camp. The worst case scenario is he proves to be an out of shape clubhouse cancer that can’t grasp the team concept and gets released in spring training. The best case scenario is he buys into the team concept,is in shape is the right handed power bat to protect Cody. I would like to see if he’s willing to listen to Doc, Ward and the rest of the staff.

      2. If Kemp comes into camp in shape, and bust his tale to be a productive member of the team, and becomes a model citizen, then no matter how much I dislike him( it’s huge) I will be rooting for him, but we are talking about Kemp, and somehow I don’t think he want’s do all that.
        I think if he comes to spring training in shape that will tell if he want’s to play on the best team he has ever been apart of or just cause trouble and collect his money.
        Let’s see what happens.

  5. via Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe:

    You hear a lot of stuff at the Winter Meetings. Here’s one rumor told to me by a longtime, major force in the baseball world. It involves the Yankees and Giancarlo Stanton. The story goes that after 2018, the Yankees deal Stanton to the Dodgers and sign Bryce Harper. Your first reaction is, “Wow! Never happen.” Then you start to think about it. Stanton is an LA kid. The Dodgers didn’t have great interest in Stanton this offseason, but perhaps by the end of next year? The Yankees have always coveted Harper and his lefthanded stroke at Yankee Stadium. It starts to make more sense, doesn’t it?

  6. I read the article on Tom Koehler by FanGraphs and found it interesting and sensible, now let’s see what happens.
    If the Dodgers like Taylor in centerfield and want to trade for a left fielder then rather trade for McCutchen who will be a 31-year-old rental with a cost of 14.5M for 2018 I would like to see the Dodgers trade for Yelich. If the cost for either one is going to be prospects and major league ready players then I certainly don’t want to lose those players for one year of a rental. Yelich will be 27 years old for the 2018 season and will cost 7M in 2018, 9.75M in 2019, 12.5M in 2020, 14M in 2021, and a club option of 15M for 2022.
    The other option with Yelich is the Dodgers can move him to center and Taylor to second for 2019. Many options, let’s see how the Dodgers play it.

    1. I am a big Yelich fan. Given Puig’s stats against lefties there is reason to think that Yelich would do better against them though he hit from the left side. To make room for Yelich’ contract the Dodgers could include Puig in a three team trade to avoid Puig and Mattingly being paired.
      .
      Puig would be missed but I can’t get past his kamikaze approach to balls in the gap that threatens the center fielder.
      .
      I personally believe that Toles or Verdugo could be good right fielders and then let Pederson and Yelich fit into CF or LF. I would move Taylor to second base. The Dodgers would be thin in the infield if Forsythe were traded but I would like to get rid of his salary.

      1. Funny Puig never came close to running into Taylor in center, just Pederson maybe Pederson is the unsafe outfielder.. Just on talent alone Puig should be kept and Pederson included in a trade for Yelich or McCutchen. I don’t really believe either one is an option at this point.

        1. I think Puig and Joc nearly collided and did collide because Yasiel knows Joc did not have the speed to play CF. Taylor is faster and already is better than Joc in CF. Also, Joc is not the best communicator in the field. That’s part of the reason why he is now primarily a LF’er.

          Yelich, like Verdugo and Toles and Hernandez can play CF, but he is not an everyday CF’er. I think there is only one on the Dodgers roster.

          1. Kike’ also never had a problem with Puig when he played CF.
            .
            Taylor cannot go back on a ball as well as Joc, but Joc cannot handle the gaps as well as Taylor. Joc also had problems with Bellinger in LF. There were a couple of near collisions there as well. I do not believe that Joc had the confidence he could get to balls in the gap and was late in calling off Puig (and Bellinger). We already know that Puig cannot slow down, so unless he is called off early, he will have a problem moving off the ball. CT3 figured that out, and has the ability and confidence to run down the gappers and will call early. CT3 is not a natural CF and neither is Yelich. Both could become better CF’s with more work, but that natural 1st step with a ball hit directly at you is the hardest thing to learn. It is not a practice drill, it is experience driven. Both are good students and work hard and can be above average CF, just not elite. Neither are Kiermaier, Pillar, Trout, JBJ, Inciarte, Pollock, or Hamilton as defensive CF. But both are better than McCutcheon in CF.

          2. The rule is don’t call for a ball until you know you can get to it. Neither Joc or Puig knew that they were going to get to the ball and both kept chasing it. But the RFer needs to be aware that it’s the CFer’s ball if he can get to it and wants it.
            .
            Joc probably should have yelled louder and Bellinger probably would have backed off, not so for Puig.
            .
            There is a stat about probability of a player catching a catchable ball and Joc was #2 on the team with that stat and no, I can’t do a better job of describing that stat.

  7. AC who do you think will be the centerfielder of the future Diaz or Kendall. Also is Diaz possibly ready by 2019

    1. I am very defensive minded, and Jeren Kendall could be the best CF the Dodgers have had since Willie Davis, the best CF in Los Angeles Dodgers history. Diaz is the safe bet, but Kendall has the highest ceiling. If Kendall can improve on putting bat to ball, he could lead MLB in triples. Diaz could very well be ready by 2019.

  8. Dustin Nosler did make a case for McCutcheon, but I can think of 14.75M reasons why it will not work. His trade proposal the day before – Grandal for Pollock – made much more sense. The Dodgers are staying under the luxury tax (that is an absolute), and McCutcheon puts them well over. The Pirates are not taking Kemp, they do not need a 2B, they do not need a catcher, and Ryu is not nearly enough to make this work. Unless they can unload Kemp, there is no trade for McCutcheon that will work with only the Pirates as a trade partner. If the Dodgers wants Cutch (and I am not convinced they do) I’ll leave it to FAZ to come up with a multiple team deal to make it work.
    .
    The Dodgers are not going to trade Puig. Outside of Byrce Harper there is no other RF that I would rather see than Puig (including Mookie Betts). And that is from someone who has not been a big Puig supporter. His $6M AAV makes him unmoveable. I would rather see the Dodgers try to extend Puig out of next year’s arbitration and 2-3 of his FA years.
    .
    Christian Yelich would be a good fit, but his team friendly contract is going to cost a lot of prospects that FAZ is not going to want to use. I can make an argument more for Forsythe for Castro. The Dodgers do take on a little more salary, but they have a 2B for 2019 allowing Omar Estevez, Errol Robinson or any other middle infield prospect more time. My preference would be to sign Lemahieu for 2019 and start over for a 2B prospect.
    .
    I think it is certainly worth exploring any desire the White Sox have of trading for bad contracts. They do not really have a DH (Matt Davidson), so maybe Kemp can try to resurrect his career in Chicago. We all know that Chicago is a real baseball town (right Matt?). The Dodgers would certainly have interest in Yolmer Sanchez and Avisail Garcia. What prospects the Dodgers would have to include to have the ChiSox take on any portion of Kemp’s contract is probably not something that FAZ will consider. The Dodgers do not have to do anything else to stay under the luxury tax threshold, so why give up prospects to move Kemp unless the receiving team believes they will get something out of Kemp himself. So here is an unrealistic trade proposal – Kemp, Joc, Sheffield, Locastro, and Lux for Yolmar Sanchez. Kemp would be an immediate upgrade over Matt Davidson as DH; Joc an immediate upgrade over Engel in CF, Sheffield could become an immediate high leverage relief prospect, and Lux would give them a middle infield prospect they do not have outside of Moancada. Moancada goes to 2B and Saladino goes to 3B (waiting for Jake Burger to take over), and Locastro takes over the utility spot for Saladino. The Dodgers get a switch hitting 2B for several years, and removes a potential block for Verdugo.
    .
    I do not believe that Kemp will make it to Glendale, AZ as a Dodger, but I did not think there was any way FAZ could move A-Gon and Kazmir. So who knows what will happen there. But to me, there is no reason to take away AB’s from Joc/Toles/Verdugo and give them to Kemp. Joc/Toles/Verdugo need all the ST AB’s they can get to make a case for themselves. They are the future…not Kemp. As far as RH AB’s why take away from Trayce Thompson as he tries to make the team with zero options remaining. Maybe Tim Locastro can get some more OF time as well. There are more reasons for Kemp not to be in Glendale as a Dodger than for him to be there. He served his purpose, now it is time to move on and finish up the roster. If he cannot be moved via trade, DFA him.

  9. I am definitely in that humorous amateur GM bullpen, but for my money I would be totally satisfied with Toles and Kiki sharing LF. They both have the right attitude, they both can run, hit and throw. And in my opinion they are both ready to explode. I think we are covered in LF.
    Ok, ha ha ha.

  10. Without seeing the details I’m guessing that’s the same Henry Owens who was a top Red Sox LHP prospect (maybe their #1) a few years back. Maybe his stock has dropped since then, but you never know. Can’t hurt to give him a look.

  11. When looking at the team’s plans to bring back mostly the same roster it may be useful to look at the players on their last year contracts and whether moving them is actually a good idea:

    Forsythe has a good contract, $9 M, plays great defense and is a clutch bat, likely to improve over last season.
    Ryu has a good contract, $7 M, was healthy most of last year and is likely to improve in a walk year.
    Grandal projects to get $7.5 to $8 M in arbitration, was down offensively but up defensively, bounce back time?

    With the really bad contracts gone these 3 provide veteran leadership, a reliable 2B, a solid 5th starter and provide a top catching tandem (with Barnes) on a veteran staff. Depending on performance and how the kids do they could be brought back in 2019, traded at the deadline or allowed to walk next off season.

    Puig and Joc provide something too: Puig’s improvement may continue and he is the natural 5 hitter to protect Cody and his defense is stellar. I agree with AC that they should try to lock him up longer term. Joc provides insurance in case Verdugo is not ready, Toles needs more rehab time and that Thompson may never pan out.

    Taylor, Barnes, Cory and Cody are on very team friendly contracts, Hill, Turner and Jansen are signed for the near future, and Wood and Maeda have good contracts too.

    Rotation with the top 5 and Buehler, Stripling, Stewart, Font, Oaks, and Koehler capable of starting plus Urias coming back and most are calling for more starters? I don’t see it unless they know something about Kershaw that I don’t. If they need starter help for the playoffs do a deadline deal, they have plenty for the regular season.

    That leaves the bullpen but a lot of the excess starters listed above could slide into a bullpen role, something that McCarthy and Kazmir really were not suited for. Plus the returning Baez, Fields, Avilan, Liberatore, Paredes and Cingrani. They added Koehler and get Garcia back from injury and there is also Santana. Seems to me that will sort itself out in ST and the early part of the season.

    The elephant in the room is Kemp and that is a head scratcher for me, I could see it going either way but we got 3 years and possibly 4 out of Grandal and dumped 3 bad contracts by bringing Kemp back. Whatever they decide they were masterful so far in trading Kemp away and bringing him back.

      1. I agree, and they have a good record at finding hidden gems.
        My point is mostly concerned with the other teams that reached the Champions Series are strengthening while their window of opportunity is open. Look at the Yankees and Cubs, and the moves they are making, or at least trying to make.
        We have one more year of Kershaw and then who knows?
        It appears that our main competition is getting stronger, while we appear to be weaker if anything. No Morrow, Watson or Darvish.

        I’m Not sure how long we can hope that FAZ can keep pulling rabbits out of the hat.
        The Cubs didn’t recruit well last winter, and came up short. I hope we learn from that.

        1. I think it’s time to quit buying pitchers and let the farm produce. FAZ also said they were not going to block the youngsters.

          There are several players from the farm system who are ready or nearly ready and could/may/will see time with the Dodgers THIS year:

          1. Buehler (everyone expects him)
          2. Santana (he could be a killer arm in the pen)
          3. Urias (still has a chance to be very, very good)
          4. White (I expect him in 2019, but you never know)
          5. Oaks (rotation or pen – he will get a shot in 2018)
          6. Font (yeah he’s older)
          7. Sheffield (just needs a little extra)
          8. Ferguson (2019 at the latest)
          9. Alvarez (what if he puts it together)
          10. Sierra (real candidate for the pen)

          All of those guys have major league arms, but not all (most) will not make it next year. Some will and maybe it will be ones you do not expect.

          Just say no to trading or signing old pitchers. Bring on the kids!

          1. Of those 10 listed only 5 are on the 40 man, numbers 1,2,3,5 and 6. Only Font is out of options which is why I think he gets a longer look in ST. I forgot about Sierra, he has the tools.

  12. Owens walked 60 in 69 innings in 17 starts at AAA last year. There is a reason that he’s been cut by the D-backs and by the Bosox. Got to throw strikes.

  13. Dumpster diving???????? Well if that’s what it is, then understand that EVERY, and I mean EVERY teams does it. Where do you think teams get NRI’s every year?

    And I would argue that the Dodgers have greatly strengthened themselves by providing the sort of financial flexibility that will enable them to acquire impact talent, maybe even as soon as this coming season with the help of a little legerdemain.

  14. He is on MTB TV and Radio and Sirius XM. He’s credible… and much as they can be because they are sometimes fed BS.

    I am certain the Dodgers are discussing Yelich. Discussions probably revolve around Verdugo and a pitcher, like Sheffield. Maybe if the Dodgers include Alvarez and $30 million, they would take Kemp.

    Yelich is a guy who hits all over the field and is good against L-R, but I have heard several people say they believe if he works on his launch angle and gets stronger, he can hit 40 HR. He just turned 26. I have always liked him.

    How about Toles, Kemp, Alvarez, Verdugo and $12 Million in 2018 and $21 Million in 2019 for Yelich?

    Here’s another prediction: The Dodgers do not trade Grandal and by June he is the Starting Catcher again.

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