I haven’t been paying that much attention to the hot stove league this year – with a baby, things like that kind of go by the wayside. Plus I’m in a fantasy basketball league and am in the playoffs for fantasy football. Green Bay’s defensive touchdown just now may have done me in.
But while surfing ESPN I just saw that Zach Greinke had signed with the Dodgers. The Dodgers now project to have the highest payroll in the majors next year – yes, more than the Yankees. And I don’t think it’s all that close. I read something like $230 million. The largest payroll in history (which is admittedly an inexact science – but I believe is based on the team at the beginning of the year) of any team thus far was the 2008 Yankees, who were at $209 million. The Yankees have been the highest payroll every year since 1998, when the Orioles were surprisingly the top team (the Bombers were second that year). That streak will almost assuredly end this year. Here’s the projected Dodgers payroll for 2013. Guys in italics were not on the 2012 opening day roster.
- $29 million (estimate) – Zack Greinke (signed as a free agent this weekend – owed $147 million through 2018)
- $21 million – Adrian Gonzalez (obtained in 2012 season via trade with Red Sox – owed $127 million through 2018)
- $20 million – Matt Kemp (owed $148 million through 2019)
- $20 million – Carl Crawford (obtained via Red Sox trade – owed $102 million through 2017)
- $15.75 million – Josh Beckett (obtained via Red Sox trade – owed $31 million through 2014)
- $15.5 million – Hanley Ramirez (obtained in 2012 season via trade with Marlins – owed $31 million through 2014)
- $13.5 million – Andre Ethier (owed $100 million through 2018, potential buyout in 2018)
- $12 million – Ted Lilly (free agent after this season)
- $11 million – Chad Billingsley (owed $37 million through 2015, potential buyout in 2015)
- $11 million – Clayton Kershaw (arbitration eligible after this season, unrestricted free agent after 2014)
- $8 million – Juan Uribe (free agent after this season)
- $7 million – Aaron Harang (owed $14 million through 2014, potential buyout in 2014)
- $6 million – Ryu Hin-Jin (signed from Korean league this weekend, owed $36 million through 2018, plus they paid a $25.7 million posting fee to negotiate)
- $6 million – Chris Capuano (owed $12 million through 2014, potential buyout in 2014)
- Brandon League (obtained in 2012 season via trade with Mariners – owed $28 million through 2018)
- $5.25 million – Mark Ellis (owed $11 million through 2014, potential buyout in 2014)
That’s $177 million for 15 players next year, $113 mil of which was not on the opening day roster. If you factor in the posting fee for Hin-Jin, add $26 million to each of those. This doesn’t count that they owe Manny Ramirez money deferred from his previous contract (around $8 million this year).
I’m not exactly sure what this means. On a macro level, this off-season contract figures have really jumped up, continuing a trend that seemed to start with the Angels and Marlins last year. This could have future ramifications on a couple of levels. If Greinke gets $147 million at age 29, what will Kershaw command next year at the age of 25? Heck, stepping outside of the Dodgers – what would a guy like Johnny Cueto command in 2 years? King Felix will be poised to break the bank after the 2014 season! David Price could do the same in 3 years ago. That may be too far ahead, and prices could contract as their may be fewer big players in the market then (since the Dodgers, Nationals, Angels and even the Blue Jays are going to be feeling the longer-term effects of their moves this year). For the Dodgers, it’s hard to see them being anything but the World Series favorite next year – but if they don’t win a championship over the next three years or so – they could be severely hamstrung.
Anyways, I just thought that was interesting. I kind of like it, to be honest. They aren’t in the Reds division, and I feel like the playoffs are a bit of a crapshoot. Aside from the Yankees, the Dodgers are up there (maybe with Boston and the Cubs) as the most recognizable franchise in the sport. I like the Yankees not being first in payroll for once, but I also hope the Dodgers don’t turn into a richer version of the Marlins (meaning they need to dump salary on to someone else) 3 years from now.