I enjoy when the Giants win baseball games. I dislike the Dodgers. Considering both of these points, the news over the holiday weekend was positive. It started with this headline from Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times:
After $1 billion in player spending, Dodgers under MLB mandate to cut debt
And this note in the second paragraph:
The club is expected to reduce payroll for a second consecutive season, with the goal of cutting from about $300 million in 2015 to closer to $200 million in 2018.
Just $200 million? Why, that’s Giants money. Because the Dodgers have leveraged themselves so much over the last few years, it’s affecting their ability to add all of the players they might want this offseason. It’s all fun and games to outspend the world for Yasiel Sierra and laugh it off when he turns out to be terrible ... until that move turns out to be the difference between Kenley Jansen or Joe Blanton closing. What a pickle.
As such, you’ll see headlines about how the Dodgers might be out on several free agents and trade possibilities.
The Dodgers are in debt, so they probably won’t trade for Ian Kinsler
Dodgers debt problems could complicate potential Ryan Braun trade
These are all good headlines. All three of those players would make the Dodgers better next year, and that’s all I’m concerned about at the moment, considering I’m pretty sure that the Giants will be competitive next year. If the Dodgers ditched prospects and draft picks to make these moves, which hurt their chances in 2022, I wouldn’t care as much. The world might not be here in 2022, and if it is, I’m not sure if the Giants are going to be contending.
Making it so the Dodgers are less aggressive with their money right now? That’s a good thing.
With dodgers wanting to cut payroll (via @BillShaikin ) hard to see them as cespedes threat. SFG, Wash bigger threats.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 27, 2016
Maybe that’s a great thing.
Before we start spraying Martinelli’s all over the place, though, we should probably remember a few things:
The Dodgers cutting payroll this year doesn’t mean as much as you think
The Dodgers won’t have a $272 million payroll this year. That means they can’t add everybody and anybody, which is probably a good thing.
But they’ll still have the biggest payroll in baseball. They’ll add some expensive players, and they’ll still have the prospects to add other notable players in trades. Justin Verlander? Still doable. Same goes with Ian Kinsler and Ryan Braun. All three of them? Not out of the question, and they could still sign a closer, to boot.
This is because the Dodgers’ current roster will cost them $150 million as is. Add in some arbitration increases to Yasmani Grandal and a couple relievers, and they might be up to $170 million or so. This includes the $21.86 million they’re paying Carl Crawford to not play baseball, which isn’t a sentence that needed to be in this article, but one that I’ve included for your amusement.
That gives them anywhere from $60 million to $90 million to spend, give or take. Which is waaaaay more than the Giants. That’s the thing about going from a $300 million payroll (in 2015) down to a $250 million payroll: It’s still a helluva lot of money.
It’s not like the Dodgers are 24 players short of a contending roster
What do they need? Let’s see, there’s an opening for a third baseman. A second baseman, also. A starting pitcher or two, and maybe a premium closer.
That’s something they can handle with the budget they have. They could trade for Justin Verlander, Ian Kinsler, and Brian Dozier, and still have enough for Kenley Jansen.
Those headlines about the Dodgers’ debt aren’t so funny now, are they? There are ways for them to be creative and hurt the Giants at the same time.
Like swooping on Yoenis Cespedes and Mark Melancon, right when the Giants think they’re closing in on a deal. Could happen. And then they could trade for someone obnoxious to play in the infield, too.
This all ignores the death that they’ll unleash in 2018
Even with a payroll closer to $200 million, the Dodgers are betting on more Coreys Seager, Julios Urias, and Jocs Pederson, low cost players with youth on their side and arbitration awards just out of reach. They’ll have to make a decision on Clayton Kershaw (if they let him write out the words and numbers on the check, for example), but they’ll have Adrian Gonzalez off the books. Same with Andre Ethier. And Hyun-jin Ryu. And Scott Kazmir. And Brandon McCarthy. And Matt Kemp and Hector Olivera and Erisbel Arruebarrena and Alex Guerrero and Carl Crawford.
They could get Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, depending on what they need. It might be a wild free-agent market. Not like this stinker. Goodness, what a pile of eh.
Is it better for the Giants that the Dodgers aren’t spending $300 million? Probably. But it’d be a lot cooler if they would stop signing international prospects, drafting well, and producing quality major leaguers.
Until then, I think the Dodgers’ offseason has been downgraded from “Can do whatever in the heck they want” to “Will need to be a touch more creative, but they’re still the richest team in baseball.”
The Dodgers offseasons were a lot more enjoyable when Frank McCourt used the team as his personal Diner’s Club card. Bring that guy back, imo.