With no intended subtlety, the Los Angeles Dodgers increased their payroll by over $100 million this season, acquiring Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and a few other big-salary players.
After an immensely disappointing outcome to the 2012 season with the newly acquired big names, the Dodgers are looking to satisfy their hunger for a postseason berth by making a few more pickups this offseason.
With a $198 million payroll that is now the second highest in MLB behind the New York Yankees ($235 million), it seems like the Blue Crew can barely afford to make any worthwhile acquisitions this offseason.
However, heading into this year’s free-agency market, the Dodgers can take a strategic approach to achieving the goals of fine-tuning their roster and hovering as close as possible to MLB’s $178 million luxury tax threshold.
We’ve already taken a look at who the Dodgers are targeting this offseason. Picking up solid starters like Zack Greinke and Jake Peavy will cost the Dodgers somewhere around $15-20 million per year for each player.
Although the Dodgers' new management has proven they have deep pockets, money unfortunately doesn’t grow on trees. They will have to release some high-contract players in order to pick up key players in the offseason.
So, who’s on their way out in order to achieve that goal?
All signs indicate that Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, Juan Uribe and Bobby Abreu will be ousted.
All of these players have underperformed for the Dodgers, and only Victorino and Blanton are still marketable. With Carl Crawford coming off of injury and manning left field for the Dodgers, there is no need for Victorino on the club. A sign-and-trade deal may serve the team well.
Expelling these underachievers would shed $37.3 million in salary. This would slot the club’s payroll at $161 million, $17 million under the luxury tax threshold.
The owners don’t seem too worried about paying the steep luxury tax, which increases depending on the number of offenses.
However, avoiding it will help preserve the image of the franchise. We’ve seen the stigma that is often attached to careless, big-spending franchises like the Yankees, and the Dodgers would be better off avoiding that territory.
The $17 million to spare, leaves the Dodgers room to make one solid pickup, which they will undoubtedly try to do.