There are currently 38 Dodgers on the 40-man roster without consideration of either Yasmani Grandal or Hyun-jin Ryu accepting their respective QO. With the current makeup, the Dodgers will have a salary total of nearly $179MM or approximately $27MM under the 2019 competitive balance tax threshold. We will all know no later than Monday, November 8 at 2:00 PM PT if either accept. Assuming they do not accept, below is the makeup of that roster and their respective and projected salaries. There are currently 7 under contract, now that Chase Utley has been released to facilitate his retirement. There are 13 due arbitration. The arbitration salaries are projected by MLBTradeRumors who have been consistently very close to forecasting the arbitration values. Finally, there are 18 players that are under club control. The combined projected salaries for those 18 is $4.55MM as reported by Cots Contracts. The projected $179MM also agrees with the projected 2019 salaries per Cots Contracts.
|Club Control (18)||4.550|
|Matt Kemp to SD||3.500|
|Kenta Maeda Incentive||3.000|
|Chase Utley (just released)||1.000|
|Current Projected Salary||178.675|
|Amount Under Competitive Balance Tax||27.325|
|Competitive Balance Tax Threshold||206.000|
As I see it, there are three players who could be moved in a trade to save some dollars: Yasiel Puig ($11.3MM), Alex Wood ($9MM), and Joc Pederson ($4.3MM). That is $24.6MM that could be moved. I would project at least Wood and one of Puig or Joc is an almost certainty. All three could be if Harper is in fact a possibility. I would be shocked if he were, but at least there is a way financially to make it happen.
I also submit (and continue to do so), that the team does NOT need both CT3 and Kike’. They are both utility players that could play 2B. Or CF, or LF, or SS, or 3B. By moving one, that would save another $3.2MM. If super utility players were the way to go, then the Dodgers should be all in on Marwin Gonzalez. But you all know that is not how I roll. I like a more static lineup withONEsuper utility player filling on all over the field. It is waaaaaay too easy to like both players, and I do. I have no preference as to which one I would choose if I were in charge.
We also must take into consideration that there have been reports that the Dodgers might be having some liquidity issues. They do have pending litigation with both Security Beneficial Life and the Cuban ballplayer issue. Also, one of the Dodger owners only cares if the Dodgers win because it will mean additional revenue. Todd Boehly only cares about his Return on Investment. He is the primary force behind keeping the Dodger salaries below the luxury tax. Did they get below the luxury tax threshold last year because they wanted to be in a position to spend this year? Or did they get below the threshold because that is what they advised their potential investors? And by the way, why are they looking for investors if there is not a liquidity crunch? Does it all turn around in four years? There are certainly enough questions being asked to make one think there is something amiss.
As shown above, the Dodgers can shed nearly $28MM from their current projected payroll, making them nearly $55MM south of the competitive balance tax threshold. But will they spend it? If so, where will they spend it? Would they want to spend that on Bryce Harper? Is that enough? The Dodgers will not be in play for any of the other “high cost” free agents. Andrew has already gone on record to say that Corey Seager will be ready next Spring as the Dodgers SS. That pretty much ends any speculation that Machado will become a long-term Dodger. I do not see the Dodgers being in play for Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel, Josh Donaldson, or AJ Pollock. They do not need another LHH OF so Michael Brantley will not be considered. I do not see them in the market for any of the top FA relief pitchers; Craig Kimbrel, Zach Britton, Andrew Miller, or Cody Allen. Will they be in the market for any of their next tier relievers; Brad Brach or Jeurys Familia or Joe Kelly? They have the financial wherewithal to do so but is it in their plans to go with FA or with their homegrown talent? Do they consider Nathan Eovaldi? As a starter or reliever? He seems destined to Houston or Boston as of now. We know Friedman is a believer in his players, so I am thinking that the Dodgers will scour the waiver wires to fill in where he believes the Dodgers need help in the pen. I still think the Dodgers can WOW Texas to get Jose Leclerc. Twins LHRP Taylor Rogers should also be a target.
The Dodgers can shed payroll and still be favored to win the NL West. The DBacks and Giants are telling all that will listen that they are doing a tear down. The Pads are at least one year away. Making only the Rockies pretenders to their crown. Winning the NL West really should not be much of an issue, and if that is their goal, then by doing nothing they should win the NL West for the 7thconsecutive year. But is that enough to win the pennant much less the WS? It is going to get exceedingly more difficult to beat the Braves, Phillies, Cubs, Brewers, and maybe Cardinals (with their pitching) and Nats (with their pitching), and potentially the Mets (with their pitching). And they are already behind the Red Sox, Yankees, and Astros.
Financially the Dodgers are in a good place to pick up strategic FA players, or go all in on one, Bryce Harper. They have the minor league talent to make trades for a catcher, 2B, or CF. They have the ML talent to get minor leaguers to replace the talent they may move to get a catcher and/or CF. Jean Segura is available for 2B. Will the Dodgers trade some of their prospect capital to acquire him? I have been an Ender Inciarte fan for at least three years. I would love to see him in CF in Dodger blue. Yes, I very much value defense. Andrew and Alex worked well last winter. Can they do it again? There are enough FA 2B to sign one or give it to CT3 or Kike’ for one year. I have already gone on record that I am a DJ LeMahieu fan for a 2-year deal. I continue to be amazed at how little fans pay attention to defense. Everyone looks at his stats away from Coors and conclude he cannot hit outside of Colorado, and his defense has no value. I think with his bat to ball skills he can and will hit outside of Coors, and his glove will save enough runs to win 2-4 games. One other possibility is another tremendous bat to ball and defensive player…Jose Iglesias. His K rate for his career is less than 12%. Of course, he does not hit for HR power, so does he even make the cutting room floor with the Dodgers FO? He does have his share of doubles.
Many of us believe that the Dodgers have missed out on a solid #2 or co-Ace SP. They missed on Chris Sale, Justin Verlander, and Gerrit Cole in the last 2 ½ years. The Dodgers were very much in on Sale at the trade deadline in 2016. Would he have been enough to get the Dodgers past Chicago to the WS in 2016? Yes, Sale would have cost Julio Urias, but maybe they have 2-3 WS titles with him. Verlander would have been expensive, and they would not have gotten under the luxury tax last year with him. But Gerrit Cole could have been and should have been (IMO) a Dodger this year for minimal prospect capital. This year the Dodgers have a chance again to get that co-co-Ace…Corey Kluber. They may have to take Jason Kipnis with him, but really is that so bad to get Kluber? You get Kluber for 3 years at $47.5MM (including $1MM trade bonus), and Kipnis 1 year at $14.5MM plus a $2.5MM buyout in 2020. But another positive is that Kluber’s AAV is only $7.7MM for 2019, and Kipnis is $8.75MM for 2019. Kipnis is not my idea of a good 2B, but he is only needed one year. How would a rotation of Buehler/Kluber/Kershaw/Hill/Urias look? Both Wood and Maeda could be moved in the Kluber deal. Maeda gives the Indians a longer term less costly RH arm, and Wood gives the Indians a LHSP. They have no LHSP and only Brad Hand and Tyler Olsen as LHRP. Include Scott Alexander and maybe the prospect capital gets less and less. They need RHH OF, so maybe Puig could be of interest.
Posturing just a bit. Trade Puig, Wood, Joc, Maeda, CT3 or Kike. That is $34MM in saving. Couple that with the current shortfall of the luxury tax of $27MM, and that is $61MM below the luxury tax threshold. They could trade for Kluber and Kipnis ($29.5MM in real $$$, and $16.45MM AAV). That would leave them more than enough to sign Bryce Harper and still stay under the luxury tax. What would it take to get Jose Abreu and move Belli to CF? He has one year of arbitration estimated to be $16MM. Bottom line, the Dodgers have choices, and financial concerns should not be a consideration. If they are, then they should strongly consider selling the team. Or they can stand pat andHOPEthat the players play at an elite level and stay well below the luxury tax threshold. That will make Todd Boehly happy. I am not sure about the near 4MM in attendance.