SBD/August 27, 2012/Franchises

Dodgers Called Yankees Of The West After Completing Blockbuster Trade With Red Sox

Gonzalez hit a home run in his first at bat with the Dodgers Saturday night
The Dodgers’ acquisition of 1B Adrian Gonzalez, LF Carl Crawford, P Josh Beckett and 2B Nick Punto Saturday from the Red Sox for 1B James Loney and four prospects was a “stunning development,” and the latest example of the "Dodgers' new ownership group, Guggenheim Partners, investing heavily in a win-now approach,” according to Hernandez & Dilbeck of the L.A. TIMES. The Dodgers “picked up salaries totaling more than a quarter of a billion dollars in the deal” -- Gonzalez is owed $127M the next six seasons; Crawford is owed $102.5M the next five seasons; Beckett is owed $31.5M over the next two years; Punto is owed $1.5M (LATIMES.com, 8/25). ESPN L.A.'s Mark Saxon noted the trade was a “bold and expensive move for a new ownership group that has made it clear they’ll spare no expense to put a winning team on the field as soon as possible” (ESPNLA.com, 8/25).

MONEY BALL: In L.A., Bill Shaikin asked, “If the Dodgers can add $260 million to their payroll in one trade -- and close to a half-billion dollars in four months -- is there a limit to their spending?” Dodgers Chair Mark Walter said, “Somewhere, I suppose.” Dodgers investor Magic Johnson: “We want to win now. We understand that you have to spend money to be good in this league.” Walter added, “I don’t think of it as a spending spree. We were in a position to make the team better” (LATIMES.com, 8/25). Dodgers President Stan Kasten said, “I haven’t found (a cap) yet. I’ll let you know when we get there. We really do evaluate those things secondarily. We think the most important thing is building a team” (MLB.com, 8/25). USA TODAY's Jorge Ortiz in a sports section cover story notes Walter “shrugged” when informed the Dodgers salaries taken on by the team represent the “largest figure in MLB history.” He said, “It’s payroll. I didn’t write a check for $200 million and we’re not giving them raises. We’re paying them what they were being paid.” Ortiz notes other baseball owners "have been put on notice: There’s a new version of the New York Yankees operating on the West Coast, but with less fiscal restraint” (USA TODAY, 8/27). Dodgers ownership “said they would spend money and they’ve spent plenty of it -- more than $300 million so far and counting” (ESPNLA.com, 8/25).

TV TALK: REUTERS' Ronald Grover cites sources as saying that Fox Sports and the Dodgers “began preliminary talks in May on a multi-billion dollar cable TV deal.” A deal would be “the latest in a string of rich cable TV contracts for teams in the largest U.S. TV markets.” The Dodgers and Fox “cannot formally begin talks until Oct. 15, under terms of their existing TV contract, but the renewal being discussed includes joint ownership of English and Spanish language channels” (REUTERS, 8/27). ESPN’s Steve Berthiuame asked the L.A. Times' Dylan Hernandez, “Does the Dodgers ownership really have all of this money?” Hernandez: “TV deals now, they tend to run in the billions of dollars. When you really look at it, okay, they’re really taking on about $260 million. If you’re going to get, who knows, maybe five, six, seven billion dollars, it’s possibly a good investment” (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN, 8/25). In N.Y., Joel Sherman wrote the trade was “inspired by cable TV money.” The Red Sox signed Beckett, Crawford and Gonzalez to their “current outsized deals, in large part, to feed the beast of NESN while the Dodgers accepted those contracts in near total because of a cable deal expected to be finalized this winter that could make the Yankees’ YES arrangement look like something the bunny-eared antenna dragged in” (N.Y. POST, 8/26). Also in N.Y., Bill Madden wrote, “When reports of the historic deal began to surface, the howls of the small market clubs -- decrying the approval of the $2.15 billion sale of the Dodgers to the Guggenheim Partners in the spring -- could be heard all over baseball." Club's complaints are that the Guggenheim Partners "is an insurance company with unlimited financial resources that aren’t coming out of the owners’ pockets.” And team officials are also “looking at landing an MLB-record TV deal when their current one expires after next season” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/26).

DEEP POCKETS: In Hartford, Jeff Jacobs wrote, “The fact that the Dodgers are eating all but $10 million to $12 million of the $270 million due those three guys blows me away. A year ago, the Dodgers were bankrupt.” Jacobs: “In the short term, the Dodgers win. In the long term, the Dodgers will pay dearly” (HARTFORD COURANT, 8/26). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth wrote, “Welcome to your Los Angeles Dollars” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 8/26). Also in L.A., T.J. Simers wrote, “Ownership is spending money like it said it would, and while it has to increase the star power to win a richer TV contract, everyone benefits” (L.A. TIMES, 8/26). CBSSPORTS.com’s Jon Heyman noted, “Several baseball executives, who are only getting accustomed to the ways of the new Dodgers ownership group, were having trouble coming to grips with the calculation that led the Dodgers to take $130-million in bad deals (and surrender the pair of righthanded prospects) just for the privilege of one fair superstar deal, the Adrian Gonzalez contract.” One NL exec called the Dodgers’ end of the trade “insane.” A competing team owner, in reference to the Dodgers’ insurance monies, said, “This is what [happens] when you have other people's money to spend. This makes them the favorite in the National League to get to the World Series.” Heyman added, “Unquestionably, they are the new financial bully on the block” (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/25). CBSSPORTS.com’s Scott Miller wrote, “Either the Dodgers have a printing press rivaling that of the U.S. Mint stashed somewhere near the mailroom, or George Steinbrenner has been reincarnated as Magic Johnson and Guggenheim Baseball ownership.” A source referenced Crawford by asking, “Who takes on a $100 million deal for a guy who just had Tommy John surgery?” (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/26).

NEW IDENTITY: YAHOO SPORTS’ Jeff Passan wrote the trade will “cement the Dodgers' rise from the nadir of Frank McCourt's ownership to their place as baseball bailout kings, the franchise that will chase talent no matter the price.” Passan: “No longer are the Dodgers a baseball team. They are a conglomerate comprised of a multibillion-dollar television contract, an iconic venue in Dodger Stadium, a brand that again means something, marketing and merchandising arms that drive revenue and, sure, a ballclub onto which each of the aforementioned arms gloms” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/26). ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, who labeled Dodger ownership “winners” of the trade, wrote, “In less than four months, these owners have managed to completely rebrand the franchise, and, even if the Dodgers don’t make the playoffs this year, they’ve set themselves up for a major bounce forward in attendance and interest and team success in 2013” (ESPN.com, 8/25). ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden noted, as promised by Johnson, the Dodgers “have become the New York Yankees of the West Coast.” The move “brings back memories of the late George Steinbrenner,” as the Dodgers’ “commitment to winning is being demonstrated by their actions and pocketbooks rather than by words, which is the right way to do it” (ESPN.com, 8/25). In S.F., Bruce Jenkins noted everyone “knew the Dodgers were entering a bold new era” when the Guggenheim group purchased the club in March. But this deal is “downright shocking, making other teams in the NL West -- hell, just about everyone else in the game -- look like paupers” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 8/26). Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, acknowledging the team acquired nine players last month, said that he had “much more financial latitude to make trades and otherwise obtain players than he did with the team's previous owner, Frank McCourt.” Colletti: “It's a different place. [Ownership is] allowing us to go out and make this team better” (LATIMES.com, 8/25).

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: In Denver, Troy Renck noted the Dodgers are “becoming the 'Evil Empire, Western Branch.'" Rockies CF Dexter Fowler said, “They are doing some things, that's for sure. They are getting better players. But that doesn't mean we can't beat them.” Rockies Owner Dick Monfort said, “You have new ownership coming in wanting to make their mark. They have a big TV deal coming. They know their situation better than anyone else. Sometimes big contracts don't work out. We'll see how this plays out” (DENVER POST, 8/26). In California, Jeff Miller asked, “If the Yankees can do it for generations, why can’t the Angeles and Dodgers do it for now?” Miller: "The rivalry between the Dodgers and Angels never has been more interesting than it is right now. Both teams are desperately pursuing the Southland's next World Series title, willing to pay whatever price -- literally -- is necessary” (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 8/25). MLB.com’s Richard Justice wrote, “The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series in 24 years, and after a couple of seasons off the radar, they're again the most talked about team in the game” (MLB.com, 8/25).

NEW POWER PLAYERS: ESPN’s Curt Schilling said agents are likely to be "ecstatic because the game is now different in the big leagues." Schilling: "You have the Yankees, you have the Red Sox, and the Dodgers are now one of those three that will go out and pay $260 million, $180 million for a player.” ESPN’s Aaron Boone: “Expand that a couple of more years and add the Cubs to that list. But now, the middle-market teams even. We’re seeing the Padres, we’re seeing the Cincinnati Reds be able to sign a Joey Votto, sign a Brandon Phillips, the Nationals. There’s more teams in the financial game now and that’s a good thing.” ESPN’s Steve Berthiuame: “They all have bigger and bigger local TV deals, and the money is being put back into the field in most of these cases” (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN, 8/25).
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