I don’t think I have ever seen anything like this before, but leave it to the Los Angeles Dodgers to accomplish it.
It’s surely not the “Dodgers Way” from back in the day of Peter O’Malley’s operation of the franchise. It’s surely not the way of his father, Walter, whose nickname was ‘El Cheapo’ and who located the team from Brooklyn to Chavez Ravine.
It’s surely a different day in baseball now. The Dodgers, sold by the O’Malley family, to Fox-TV, to the era-error that was the McCourt family, to this group, led by Mark Walter-Stan Kasten-Guggenheim Group out of Chicago.
We never saw this coming, a club purchased for a record 2B out of a bankruptcy auction. We never imagined an all time record TV contract from Time Warner Cable, that gives the team mega money a year in rights fees, though the games are still not cleared across the entire market for fans to see..
And now this, with opening day just around the corner, an all time record high payroll of $270M, a figure bloated by Luxury Tax penalties, and payments to players dealt away to other clubs.
It is indeed great to have this type of wealth.
Clayton Kershaw, building legendary credentials along the lines of Sandy Koufax, will earn $31M this season as part of a new contract. Zack Greinke, the number two man in the pitching rotation, will earn $27M. Adrian Gonzalez, playing thru the middle of a long-term money deal, takes home $21M, as does ex-Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford.
Andre Ethier will earn $18M if he remains on the roster despite trade rumors. The double play combination of Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick will get $11M and $9.7M respectively in the final years of the deals they signed with the Phillies and Angels.
Big name stars on big city teams in big money markets earn those paydays, but it is what else is on that ledger that just blows you away.
The Dodgers just spent 462M to land Cuban veteran infielder Hector Olivera, and he’s not even in camp yet. They have written checks for $130M for 5-Cuban players in the last 3-years. The only star of the group is Yasiel Puig, with a $6.2M-tab. Oddly, Alex Guerrero ($6.5M) and Erisbel Arrubarrena ($4M) will make 10M between them, and likely won’t make the team.
The Blue took on $10M a year for ex-Rockies pitcher Brett Anderson, spent $12M this year for oft-injured pitcher Brandon McCarthy of the Rockies.
They’ve eaten the contracts of pitchers Brian Wilson ($9.5M) and Chad Billingsley ($3M).
And then there is the money paid to guys gone to other teams. The Dodgers will pay the Padres $32M as part of the Matt Kemp contract deal. They shipped $11M to Miami to pay Dan Haren’s deal, and another $5M for infielder Dee Gordon to become a Marlin.
It’s mind boggling what Los Angeles has spent on its roster, maybe disgraceful what MLB allows them to pay for players on other club’s rosters, and stunning, how much they are willing to swallow of guys gone. All that plus the 40% luxury tax penalty for going over the limit a 3rd year in a row.
I’ve seen wild things in baseball in the past, from the Bronx Zoo operation that was George Steinbrenner and the Yankees, to Charley O and Finley’s Athletics, to the contracts handed out by the Red Sox Nation, and all things Bill Veeck-as-in-Wreck, but this tops it all.
Looking for a word to describe the new ‘Dodgers Way’…maybe it is opulent, or outrageous, or maybe obscene.
I wonder what word the Dodgers and their fans will use, when LA finishes 2nd in the National League West to the Padres.