Coming off their first World Series championship in more than three decades, the Los Angeles Dodgers entered the offseason with a willingness to shake up the roster.
The club identified two areas of focus, which was improving the bullpen and adding another right-handed bat. Thus far, L.A. has added several relievers to the mix, but not much else.
That’s not for a lack of trying, as the Dodgers remain interested in re-signing Justin Turner. They did make the bold move of signing Trevor Bauer to a record contract, as he chose L.A. over the New York Mats.
Prior to that, adding either player was going to put the Dodgers well over the luxury tax threshold. President and CEO Stan Kasten acknowledged that factor does play a part in decision-making, per Andy McCullough of The Athletic:
“The CBT is an element that does add expense, for sure,” Dodgers president Stan Kasten told The Athletic. “If we’re close, we’re going to pay attention to it. There are years where we blow right past it, and it’s not much of a factor. But every dollar is an extra dollar out the door that we need to try to recoup somehow. And a better business model is better from a lot of standpoints, including accessing financing, accessing debt, for all kinds of purposes.”
From 2014-17, the Dodgers were tabbed with the highest luxury tax bill, paying nearly $150 million in taxes when also including 2013. L.A. reset penalties by remaining below the threshold for 2018.
Despite regularly declining there was any sort of mandate or goal to accomplish as much, the Dodgers again were below the competitive balance tax in 2019. That again held true last season, as all 30 MLB teams were left off the hook from paying the luxury tax in a unique year.
According to Spotrac, the Dodgers have just over $4 million to spend before they reach the $210 million luxury tax threshold for the 2021 season. That doesn’t account for in-season callups, benefits and midseason acquisitions.
All of that considered, it is looking likely the Dodgers will in fact blow past the luxury tax threshold this season, barring a major trade that clears salary.
Turner remains Dodgers manager Dave Roberts’ priority
While the Dodgers have been linked to a handful of right-handed bats this offseason, Turner remains manager Dave Roberts’ top priority. “He’s way up there. He’s way up there,” Roberts said in December.
“I think what Justin does on the field, in the clubhouse, in the community, he’s one of the Dodger greats. He really is. It’s been six years he’s been with the Dodgers, and he’s in that elite company.
“His body of work is really special and unique. But it’s a two-way deal here: it’s the Dodgers and Justin and his family. For me, selfishly, I’ll take him for as long as I can have him.”
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