The Los Angeles Dodgers prioritized payroll flexibility this offseason and looked to shed enough salary to get beneath the $197 million luxury tax threshold for the 2018 season.
The club successfully accomplished that goal in one fell swoop by unloading the contracts of Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy to the Atlanta Braves — ridding themselves of roughly $48 million in the process.
Assuming the Dodgers remain under the threshold, they will reset their tax rate to 20 percent. Los Angeles would then be justified to splurge on this winter’s historic free agent class, when the likes of Josh Donaldson, Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw and Manny Machado could test the open market.
The Dodgers’ frugal approach during the offseason was hardly exciting, but president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman believes it could pay dividends for many years to come, via Dave Sheinin of The Washington Post:
“You’re always looking at your payroll over a multiyear horizon,” Friedman said Friday, wading carefully around questions about not only Harper, but all of next winter’s free agent class. “And who’s available in different classes. And what your actual needs are … Having flexibility — even if you can’t associate it with a specific name right now, flexibility is always a good thing.
“And we feel like we’re in good position, as we look out over the next three to five years, with our young base of major league players, and the players we have coming up through our system, our veteran core, and some financial flexibility. That’s the position you want to be in.”
The Dodgers passed on the opportunity to acquire Giancarlo Stanton and saw right-handers Yu Darvish and Brandon Morrow sign with the Chicago Cubs. Nonetheless, they still are projected to win a National League-best 99 games this season by PECOTA.
While the Dodgers didn’t make a splash, they will once again have the resources to make a major move at the non-waiver trade deadline, if desired. Moreover, they’ve signed players who could emerge as diamonds in the rough, a la Joe Blanton and Morrow.
In addition to the possibility of adding a superstar come the offseason, the Dodgers could also allocate their resources to extend its own homegrown players, such as Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager, when they inch closer to reaching free agency themselves.