In a stark contrast to their final years under previous owner Frank McCourt, the Los Angeles Dodgers are viewed as a club of financial prowess, capable of spending at will. The perception largely spawned after the Guggenheim Baseball Management group took control of the franchise.
A historic August 2012 trade with the Boston Red Sox added over $250 million in salary and made the Dodgers relevant once more. Since that point the organization has again dipped into the international market, signed Clayton Kershaw to a significant contract extension, and submitted a significant offer to Zack Greinke.
What’s more, the Dodgers ate money on multiple remaining contracts, and willingly absorbed salary to help foster trades.
The spending has naturally led to operating debt that the club reportedly needed to lower in order to become compliant with MLB now that Guggenheim is entering its fifth year of ownership.
However, president and CEO Stan Kasten dismissed the idea that the Dodgers were instructed by the league to reduce their debt, according to ESPN’s Doug Padilla:
“There is no mandate,” Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten said Monday afternoon. “There is no problem with our debt, and we continue to work on the same program we have been working on from the day we walked in here in 2012, which is to say we’re working hard to build the best team we can for this year while being mindful of continuing to build the best pipeline of minor leaguers to the major leagues that we can.”
Kasten and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman have long championed the Dodgers’ revitalized farm system and its importance to the team sustaining long-term success. The strategy has played a role in the Dodgers managing to lower their payroll in 2016 for the first time since Guggenheim took control.
While replenishing the Minor League system is vital part of the Dodgers’ vision, Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner are key free agents this winter.
There shouldn’t be any limitations to re-signing either player, and the club should see significant contracts (Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez, among others) come off the books at the conclusion of the 2018 season, if not sooner.