The Blue Yankees, the Yankees of the West, the Pacific Coast Yankees. For years, the New York Yankees have been the top spenders in baseball, but 2,500 miles away, there’s a new organization embracing its status as a big market club by showing a willingness to spend, spend, spend.
Jonah Keri, writing for Grantland, suggested yesterday that the Los Angeles Dodgers, armed with the probability of an outrageously lucrative regional television contract, could be the first team in baseball history to operate without concern for a budget. Dollars per win above replacement analysis reveals that while the team has overpaid in terms of finances in several of its most recent transactions, it’s not so much of an overpay as to suggest financial irresponsibility. However, the point shouldn’t be lost that the Dodgers are doing something differently than any other club in baseball as evidenced by their lack of concern for the luxury tax which governs even the Yankees.
According to Keri:
The Dodgers are on the hook for an incomprehensible $192.6 million in 2013. And that’s assuming the Dodgers let Victorino, Blanton, League, and several complementary players leave via free agency. It also doesn’t include starting catcher A.J. Ellis’s pending arbitration award, a potential new deal for ace Clayton Kershaw, or any free-agent signings. The Dodgers currently owe a somewhat more reasonable $133.7 million for 2014, well below the $189 million luxury-tax threshold for that season. But the likelihood of any team ostensibly standing pat for two years, let alone a team with such naked ambition and wanton disregard for financial constraints as the Dodgers, is basically nil.
Now, it should be noted that a) the $192.6 million figure includes deferred salaries on contracts to players no longer with the team, and b) the luxury tax considers only average annual value on contracts, and not the specific amount being made year to year. However, again, the point still stands.
In a little over a month, the Dodgers have taken on approximately $315 million in contract commitments. And that’s not even including the $85 million that the team committed to Andre Ethier or the $160 million that the previous ownership agreed to pay Matt Kemp.
So what’s next? While Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports suggested yesterday that the Dodgers weren’t done shopping for another starting pitcher, one has to think that a long term deal for the team’s current best pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, will be in the works in the not-too-distant future. Kershaw and the team already agreed to a two year $19 million deal in February, which will take him to his final year of club control in 2014. However, a lot has changed since then, and it’s not ridiculous to suggest that the Dodgers will value the young southpaw more than any other team on the market.
There are two interesting case studies in Matt Cain and Cole Hamels whose contracts were signed at different points of the season this year. Cain signed a six year $127.5 million deal in April (that includes his final year of arbitration), while Hamels landed a six year $144 million contract in July (that covers free agent years only). Unless the Dodgers can wow him with an offer, Kershaw might be best off playing out 2013 with his current deal, taking an arbitration settlement in 2014, and then letting his representatives negotiate a long-term contract throughout that year.
However, considering the abandon with which Los Angeles has been doing business, would it be all that surprising if something along the lines of the Cain model was offered to Kershaw as soon as this off season? With its entry into the realm of the big market teams, such a move would be exactly the type of risk the Dodgers could afford.
And The Rest
How the broadcast booths in Major League Baseball favor American players over foreign ones. [The Atlantic]
Comparing the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry to the Cold War just got a little bit more apt. [The New Yorker]
Erik Bedard has been released by the Pittsburgh Pirates. [Baseball Nation]
Kevin Long, the hitting coach for the New York Yankees, does a Q&A on Mark Teixeira. [Star-Ledger]
Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine won’t let suspended reliever Alfredo Aceves fly on the team plane. [MLB.com]
This is how relievers try to pick up women before the baseball game. [Deadspin]
The Washington Nationals have a new offensive strategy, and believe it or not, it extends saying bad things about former manager Jim Riggleman. [MLB.com]
An interview with Trevor Bauer of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. [FanGraphs]
On the future of baseball research. [Crashburn Alley]