If the Los Angeles Dodgers are serious about building a World Series contender as early as next season, they must continue to flash the cash this offseason.
Guggenheim Baseball Management wasted no time flexing their financial muscles once they officially took control of the Dodgers in April. Magic Johnson and his partners must finish the job this winter to create the winner they desperately want.
Los Angeles’ new ownership group made their presence felt across Major League Baseball by pulling off a series of high-profile trades during the 2012 season.
The Dodgers first shook up the trade market by acquiring shortstop/third baseman Hanley Ramirez from the Miami Marlins in late-July. More shocking than the transaction itself was L.A.’s willingness to take on the remainder of Ramirez’s contract—a deal that guaranteed him nearly $38 million (at the time of the trade) through the 2014 season.
The Ramirez deal soon became trivial once Los Angeles completed a rare blockbuster trade with the Boston Red Sox during the August waiver period.
The nine-player deal added more than $250 million in guaranteed contracts to the Dodgers’ payroll. It also put former All-Stars Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett (and utility infielder Nick Punto) in Dodgers uniforms.
Although team president Stan Kasten insist the Dodgers will return to being a franchise built on strong player development, it will take years for that strategy to bare fruit at the major league level.
The minor league system was nearly left barren following the six years that Frank McCourt owned the team. As a result, Los Angeles has only two prospects ranked among 2012’s top 100 according to MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo.
Of the two, only right-handed pitcher Zach Lee (the 42nd ranked prospect on Mayo’s list) was in the organization before this season. Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig (No. 91) was signed by the Dodgers as a free agent in June to a record seven-year, $42 million contract.
Los Angeles fell short of making the postseason despite winning eight of their last ten games and finishing 86-76. Missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons was unfortunate given the efforts made by the new ownership group and general manager Ned Colletti. However, many of L.A.’s midseason acquisitions gave Dodgers fans reason to be excited about the 2013 season.
With little to no help expected from the minor league system next spring, here are three reasons why Los Angeles needs to spend more money this winter to build a World Series contender.