The Dodgers are the winningest franchise since 2010 by a wide margin. In 2004 games, they won 1179 and lost 825. The Yankees, second on the list, have won 1145. They have accomplished this without leading the majors over that period in any of the major offensive categories.
The first couple of years in that span, the team was still owned by Frank McCourt. So, they did what they did with spit, glue and bailing wire. When the Guggenheim Group took over the team in 2012, things began to change.
They made the “Trade” with the Red Sox getting a Hispanic Star on the roster, and they began to spend money. And the team began to win.
All of the ownership was committed to winning not only titles, but multiple titles. And money seemed to be no object. They finally changed front office leadership after the 2014 season, also changing the manager in 2016. Mattingly was out and Roberts was in.
But although the payroll topped the league for several seasons, except for Betts’s contract, signed just before the 2020 season, and Freddie Freeman’s deal last year, none had been for more than four years and none were for more than 100 million.
They do have some 30 million dollar a year players, but they have for the most part avoided high profile free agents and the huge contracts they generate. They have tried more to retain their own vets. Usually at a reduced home-town discount.
This winter, most fans wanted the Dodgers to resign Trea Turner, or go hard after one of the other free agent shortstops. Many believe Gavin Lux does not have the skill set to play shortstop and is better suited at second base.
Turner ended up getting a huge deal from the Phillies. Scratch item one. Dansby Swanson signed with the Cubs for 7 years and a ton of cash. Scratch item two. Carlos Correa looked like he was signed by the Giants, then he wasn’t. Then the Mets and then he wasn’t and finally he ended up back with the Twins.
No problem. trade for an everyday shortstop. Whoops, not happening. What he did do was trade for a backup shortstop in Miguel Rojas, a great glove and a so-so bat. But a player who is great in the clubhouse and versatile enough to play other infield positions if needed.
Great. But instead of signing any of the major free agents, Freidman and company decided to go the other route. Low risk high reward signings. They let JT, Anderson, Heaney, Trea, and all of their other free agents walk. They non-tendered Cody Bellinger and Edwin Rios.
They signed Noah Syndergaard and Shelby Miller to one year deals. They signed a bevy of outfielders to minor league deals. Dodgers fans on most blogs I have read were incredulous.
At virtually the last minute before spring training started they signed David Peralta to a one year deal. To say that Dodger fans were underwhelmed at the activity by the front office this winter is an understatement. About the only move everyone was in agreement with was re-signing Kershaw. Even when they signed JD Martinez to be JT’s replacement at DH, some fans groaned.
If they were trying to get under the CBT so they would re-set, they failed. With Peralta and the trade for Rojas, they went over again. But their total tax will not be as high as it has been the last couple of years.
Dodger fans all over the internet have speculated on the reasons for this change of modus operandi. Meaning LA usually gets the one player they really want in free agency or a trade. No major trades made, no major free agents signed.
The first thing that popped into most of their heads is the rumor, not substantiated by any source, that they were clearing salaries so they can make a solid run at Shohei Ohtani when he becomes a free agent after this season.
They also have to decide if they are going to break the bank for Julio Urías. The problem there is his agent, Scott Boras. Boras loves to have his guys test the free agent market. And Urías is going to be a hot commodity. San Diego would like nothing better than to snatch a Hispanic star from the Dodgers. And they have been spending money like crazy.
I think the Dodgers would definitely be in a bidding war if they do indeed go after Ohtani. And the Mets would likely be right in the middle of that fight. Cohen seems to want to win no matter what the cost.
It boils down to this. A lot of Dodger fans think the team should say, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. In other words, spend whatever it takes to put as many stars on the field as they can. Two, three, even four 30 mil a year guys or more, they do not care, just get that ring.
Pretty fast and easy with other people’s money. And remember, having the largest payroll and deepest roster for a few years has not led to more than one World Series win. They are 1-2 in their three appearances. Last year they had the best record in baseball and did not get past the NLDS.
That was embarrassing and probably one of the reasons for the re-set this winter. Let some kids make their debuts, put a competitive team on the field, and hope to get hot at just the right time. Tweak the roster at the deadline if needed.
So my friends, what you see is what you are going to get and you may as well live with it. Ownership has not shown an inclination to not spend. But they have also shown a lot of restraint on who they spend their money on. The price of victory can vary quite a bit from year to year. I am sure, if you went back to 1959 and checked the total salary of that team, it would be less than what Mookie Betts makes in a year.