The 2017 MLB offseason dominated headlines not for the usual activity that accompanied the winter, but rather the lack of free agent signings and unwillingness from teams to add significant salary to their respective payrolls.
It was highlighted by two financial behemoths in the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees largely sitting out of free agency as an effort to remain under the $197 million luxury tax threshold for this season.
Both clubs had exceeded the bar in each of the past five seasons and doing so again would’ve meant significant tax repercussions in the form of a 50 percent penalty on the overage and limited their spending moving forward.
According to the Associated Press, only two Major League teams in the Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals are set to face luxury tax penalties for the 2018 season:
“The Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals remain the only teams on track to pay the tax this year, according to Aug. 31 figures compiled by the commissioner’s office for clubs and obtained by The Associated Press.”
The Red Sox were one of the few teams to make a free agent splash in 2017, adding slugger and American League MVP candidate J.D. Martinez on a substantial five-year contract.
As for the Dodgers, their lone splash was reacquiring Matt Kemp from the Atlanta Braves in what was essentially viewed as a salary dump at the time. Kemp, of course, defied all odds in sticking with the club and went on to make his first All-Star team since 2012.
The Dodgers paid the highest luxury tax bill in 2017 but managed to begin the current season with an Opening Day payroll of just over $182 million.
Los Angeles has since added over $12 million in salary commitments, largely due in part to their activity on the trade front. The club swung multiple trades in July and August, most notably acquiring the likes of Manny Machado, Brian Dozier and David Freese, among others.