At some point, baseball sportswriters will give me whiplash from all the head shaking their brilliantly crafted flights of fantasy during the so-called hot stove league cause. In other words, if you thought every political pundit blew it on the presidential election — and except for Ann Coulter, they did — the sports department is following suit with their biannual roundup of all the great things the Dodgers are planning.
It’s all crap.
They’re not adding big-ticket free agents. If anything, they’ll be cutting payroll. It’s more likely they will bid adieu to virtually all of their free agents, including third baseman Justin Turner and closer Kenley Jansen.
But wait, fellow Dodgers fans wave their tablets in protest: Every website, even reputable ones such as ESPN, Fox and CBS, claim the Dodgers will go big-game hunting to catch up to the Cubs. After all, they have billions coming in from their TV deal and they attract almost 4 million fans every year. Besides, dammit, Magic Johnson wouldn’t let us down.
Oh, you’re going to be let down. An article in Saturday’s edition of the Los Angeles Times appears to have shed light on why the Dodgers have behaved like cheapskates since Andrew Friedman became the team’s grand poobah.
The upshot is this: The Dodgers lose money, lots of it. According to Forbes, they’re on the hook for as much as $400 million. You could even say all of that debt could be attributed to former owner Frank McCourt. The Guggenheim ownership group assumed $419 million in debt when it bought the team.
Moreover, the Dodgers are paying players handsomely for filling rosters on other teams, or for just staying at home. LA forked out $100 million to the likes of Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Dee Gordon, etc.
Major League Baseball will only let a team have so much debt over time. The formula is 12 times annual revenue minus expenses. Should a team not lower that debt in a certain amount of time, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has 16 options for punishment. Those options include seeking league approval for any new expenses or suspending ownership/management.
What does that mean in the interim? The Dodgers $300 million payroll in 2015 is on a drastic downward arc. Think a cut of one-third from 2015 in a few years. Granted, a $200 million payroll should be a team that qualifies for the playoffs.
But improve enough to knock out the Cubs? That’s not happening next year unless Chicago gets destroyed by injuries.
I’m a Dodgers fan. I wish it weren’t so.