Los Angeles Dodgers' Deferred Contract Burdens Slowly Beginning to Fade Away
Over the last several years, the Los Angeles Dodgers' management team of owner Frank McCourt and general manager Ned Colletti have utilized the deferred contract option as a tactic to bring in numerous big name players with highly valued contracts—without paying much up front.
Looking back at several of the players who were still part of the Dodgers payroll in 2010, and who will be receiving paychecks from McCourt into the future, there's no doubt that many of the deals have failed miserably.
There's no way of telling exactly what position Frank McCourt is in financially, and just to be competitive, the club may be forced to continue to back-load contracts and pay players deferred cash long after they leave Los Angeles.
Nevertheless, as the 2010 campaign came to an end, some relief began to appear. Six players who were on the team payroll this season, yet never suited up in Dodger Blue, have finally received their last paycheck from Los Angeles. Now, these funds can finally be utilized to fill in a number of gaps on the player roster.
Left-handed starting pitcher Ted Lilly was recently signed to a three-year, $33 million deal, and although the contract was back-loaded, surprisingly no deferred payments exist that will need to be made once the contract expires. This could be a positive sign for the Dodgers, as Colletti and McCourt finally may be realizing how costly several of these deals actually were.
Still, the offseason is young, and the verdict is out on McCourt and Colletti. It's already been announced that the team payroll will be increased, but it's unknown by how much. Yet it is possible that with all the right moves, the Dodgers may find themselves in a position to improve upon a very dreadful year.
The following slides show all nine players who weren't part of the team in 2010 yet still received paychecks signed by McCourt. Several are finally cleared from the payroll, and while a few will continue to be paid into the future, there is a bit of relief in sight in terms of overall dollars.
Shortly after the end of the 2009 season, the Dodgers dealt outfielder Juan Pierre to the Chicago White Sox for two young pitching prospects in John Ely and Jon Link.
Although a number of critics speculated that it was a tactic to free payroll, Dodgers' management agreed to pay Chicago part of Pierre's salary over a two year period.
In 2010, Los Angeles paid a total of $7 million to Pierre. Moving into 2011, the Dodgers will front another $3.5 million to the speedy outfielder, but the difference from this year will certainly come in handy when assembling the roster this winter.
With the Dodgers sending all that cash Pierre's way, his 68 stolen bases would have certainly come in handy for the Boys in Blue in 2010.
Prior to the beginning of the 2008 season, the Dodgers thought that they had made a huge splash in the free agent market by signing marquee outfielder Andruw Jones to a two-year, $36 million deal.
By the end of Jones' only season in Los Angeles, the deal was later considered by many to be the worst in franchise history.
Jones was given a $12 million signing bonus, and was paid $9 million in 2008 for playing in 75 games while having a .158 average and a .249 slugging percentage. But the money didn't stop there.
Long after the Dodgers released Jones, Los Angeles paid him $3.2 million this year, and will have him on the hook every year through 2014 for another $3.2 million each season.
Jones was only paid $500,000 by the Chicago White Sox this year, but the $3 million-plus paid by the Dodgers provided Andruw with a much healthier income.
In a move which was both designed to free up cash and apparently create new chemistry for the Dodgers moving forward, Los Angeles placed outfielder Manny Ramirez on waivers just days before the 2010 deadline.
Ramirez was eventually claimed by the Chicago White Sox, and the Dodgers let Manny walk without receiving any type of compensation. Chicago was responsible for the balance of the $5 million he was due in 2010, but the Dodgers are still obligated to pay the $15 million in deferred cash which was part of the initial contract Ramirez signed in 2009.
Los Angeles will pay Ramirez $3,333,333 in both June of 2011 and 2012, then Manny's final installment of his contract of $8,333,333 will be due in June of 2013.
In December of 2006, the Dodgers thought they had made another brilliant free agent signing by inking star pitcher Jason Schmidt to a three-year, $47 million deal.
In the end, many compared the signing to being completely fooled by a used car salesman. What the Dodgers obtained was a shell with a solid reputation, but the interior had a shoddy engine and a blown transmission.
After only three starts in 2007, Schmidt went to the disabled list with severe shoulder problems and never fully recovered. He tried to make a return later that year, but he never actually healed. Schmidt was paid $15 million-plus to start six games and compile a 1-4 record with a 6.31 ERA,
In 2008, Schmidt was paid another $15.2 million for missing the entire year, and in 2009 he earned another $15 million-plus for appearing in four games and logging just over 17 innings of work.
This year the Dodgers paid Schmidt $2.5 million, and he wasn't even mentioned in the media guide. 2010 was the final year of payments however, and Schmidt is no longer on the books moving forward.
After the 2009 season, the Dodgers didn't even offer second baseman Orlando Hudson arbitration, and in doing so, lost a decent bat, a stellar glove and an unquestionable leader in the clubhouse. Many critics claim that by letting Hudson walk, it was the beginning of the demise of Los Angeles in 2010.
Hudson's deal with the Dodgers was for one year, paying him just over $3.3 million with incentives, and $1,440,000 of that amount was deferred cash which was paid to him in 2010.
This year, Hudson was signed by the Minnesota Twins to a one-year, $5 million deal, and was instrumental in the squad's run to the playoffs.
Nevertheless, Hudson is now officially off the Dodgers payroll, freeing up a bit of cash for options in 2011.
After an excellent initial year in Los Angeles in 2006, the Dodgers re-signed Nomar Garciaparra to a two-year, $18.5 million deal for the 2007 and 2008 seasons. At 32 years of age, Garciaparra won the NL Comeback Player of the Year award, and seemingly had a few years left in the tank.
In June of 2007, Nomar volunteered to move from first base to third base to make room for rookie James Loney; then after fracturing his hand in 2008, was placed on the DL to create a roster spot for newly acquired outfielder Manny Ramirez.
The back-end of Garciaparra's two-year deal included deferred money, and Nomar was finally paid $1,250,000, the last of what was owed to him, in 2010.
Garciaparra, although still being paid by the Dodgers, was part of the Oakland Athletics squad in 2009, then began his career working for ESPN in the broadcast booth this year.
Ramon Ortiz was signed to a minor league contract by the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 2010 season which included an invitation to spring training. After impressive performances in the preseason, Ortiz was added to the Dodgers' Major League roster to begin the year.
Ortiz picked up his first win since 2007 in a relief performance on May 1st against the Pittsburgh Pirates. After making several unproductive spot-starts, he was designated for assignment on May 27, and on June 3 was officially released.
Nevertheless, the contract he signed to begin the year guaranteed $1 million in cash, which was paid to him over the course of the season.
Ortiz is currently a member of the Durham Bulls, a Triple-A club in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
The Dodgers signed left-handed reliever Will Ohman to a one-year, $1.35 million deal prior to the 2009 season, and although the $200,000 paid to him by Los Angeles this year was part of a buyout, he was still on the team payroll nonetheless.
Ohman appeared in only 21 games for the Dodgers in 2009 while completing just over 12 innings of work, mostly due to an injured shoulder. After he was released by Los Angeles, he spent part of 2010 with the Baltimore Orioles, and was dealt to the Florida Marlins just before the 2010 trade deadline.
Jason Repko began his career in the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system as a shortstop in 2000, and was switched to the outfield while playing for the Vero Beach Dodgers in 2002. Repko went on to make his Major League debut for the Dodgers in April of 2005 against the San Francisco Giants.
In 2006, he suffered a severe ankle sprain which sidelined him for most of the season, then during spring training in 2007, he tore his hamstring when colliding with Rafael Furcal.
Repko spent all of 2007 on the DL, and played most of 2008 with the Dodgers' Triple-A club, the Las Vegas 51s.
In 2009 he played with the Albuquerque Isotopes, and eventually appeared in 10 games with the Dodgers in September, primarily as a pinch runner or late inning defensive replacement.
Just prior to the beginning of the 2010 season, he was finally released by Los Angeles. The $125,000 that was paid to him over the course of this year was the balance of his previous $500,000 contract.
Repko played in all three outfield spots or the Minnesota Twins in 2010.