Los Angeles Dodgers Trade News: Does Frank McCourt Have Money to Deal?

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Los Angeles Dodgers Trade News: Does Frank McCourt Have Money to Deal?
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Something's going to happen soon.

But nobody really knows for certain how much money the Los Angeles Dodgers are willing to spend to improve their squad heading into the home stretch of the 2010 season—mainly due to the current divorce proceedings between Dodgers' owner Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie.

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti is notorious for not showing his hand before the trade deadline, and although this year's speculation indicates that McCourt's wallet is extra—thin, Colletti will use all available resources to enhance his team's chances of returning to the postseason.

Buster Olney of ESPN, a highly regarded MLB analyst, conveyed on June 28th via Twitter that all of his contacts in the Dodger organization have low expectations that the team has the means to add payroll dollars to acquire much needed pitching help.

Still, Frank McCourt continues to pump huge amounts of cash into his divorce defense team, as the Los Angeles Times reported on June 29th that the Dodgers owner has hired yet another attorney to add to his defense brigade.

The newest hire is Stephen Susman, a lawyer based out of Houston, Texas, who is regarded among the top trial lawyers in the country.

The divorce is already being labeled as one of the costliest in California State history, and the combined costs for both sides is expected to exceed $19 million in attorney fees alone—a sum equal to the amount of Manny Ramirez' 2010 salary.

And as details continue to be exposed about the Dodgers' books, several very interesting figures have been brought to light in a precursor of what to expect in the divorce trial itself.

According to court documents, the club is paying the annual salaries of the couple's sons, Drew and Travis. The combined salaries of the two total $600,000, while neither is said to have any responsibility with the Dodgers.

At the time the documents were submitted, Drew was attending business school at Stanford and Travis worked at Goldman Sachs in New York.

Also, it is alleged by Jamie's lawyers that the Los Angeles Dodgers have paid nearly $4 million over the last 18 months to the John McCourt Company, an entity which does virtually nothing for the team.

Jamie's attorneys are describing this entity as a "slush fund," implying it is nothing more than a piggy bank of cash to be used at Frank's leisure.

Regardless, it's obvious that there are enormous amounts of money involved, and more details are expected to be revealed when the divorce trial begins on August 30th.

Despite the divorce being a primary focus of the franchise, Ned Colletti still has a job to do—and he will try his best to improve his team's chances of winning.

Already within the past three weeks, Colletti has made efforts to strengthen the Dodgers' bullpen, adding Kiko Calero, Claudio Vargas, Jesus Colome, and Jack Taschner, all of whom were claimed off waivers, and all of whom are 32 years of age or older.

All four pitchers are currently active in the Dodgers farm system, and are poised to be called up if needed by the team.

With the addition of this veteran crew, it may suggest that the current relieving corps may be in for an overhaul, as the Dodger bullpen continues to struggle. This was evident in the heart—wrenching defeat at the hands of the New York Yankees last Sunday night. 

As the minor leagues are normally used for the development of young players, or possibly as a proving ground for one or two veterans, the addition of this four man crew may indicate that perhaps the club is looking to move several relievers in a larger deal with another team.

Also, it's worth noting that the Dodgers have already signed 21 of their 50 selections chosen in this year's first year player draft, including four of their top five picks. The team has until August 16 to complete the remainder of the signings.

These moves may be signs that the team has more cash to work with than many have speculated.

Colletti has also told several reporters that he was busy inquiring about free agent pitchers. If the cash is indeed scarce, this may be a very economical option in terms of upgrading the team's pitching staff.

Pedro Martinez, Jarrod Washburn, Braden Looper, and Mark Prior head up the list of names of free agents without a team possibly looking to make an impact in 2010.

However, everyone in "Dodgerland" still has their fingers crossed that Los Angeles can find a way to make a deal for one of the big market pitchers: Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee, or Dan Haren.

Although Colletti has not ruled these names out as options, he did indicate that he hasn't yet approached ownership for more money to increase payroll.

Nevertheless, anticipation is high. The Dodger faithful are already sitting on the edge of their seats with unbridled anxiety, waiting.

The deadline for all trades in Major League baseball is July 31st.

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