SBD/December 13, 2012/Franchises

Dodgers' Opening Day Payroll Likely To Top $200M; Could Break All-Time Record

Johnson (r) said the Dodgers' spending shows the team is "not messing around"
The Dodgers are projected to have the highest team payroll in MLB history for the '13 season, but Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten said the team does not "focus on that so much." Kasten, appearing on MLB Network yesterday, said, "We don’t focus on numbers because, again, we’re at just a phase of what is a much larger picture. Whatever our payroll is this year it is not what I expect it to be year in year out.” The team in the last week has signed P Zack Greinke to a six-year, $147M contract and South Korean P Hyun-Jin Ryu to a six-year, $36M deal, but Kasten said the club is “trying to be mindful about buying." Kasten: "I know it doesn’t look that way to everybody, but so far no one that we’ve signed is on a contract that will have them pitch beyond the age of 36.” Kasten said of the team spending even more this offseason, “For us we think it’s a short-term investment while we build the longer term picture” (“Clubhouse Confidential,” MLB Network, 12/12). The AP's Ronald Blum reported the Dodgers' current payroll is $214.8M "for 21 signed players next season." The previous record for an Opening Day roster is $209.1M, set by the Yankees in '08. D'Backs GM Kevin Towers said, "I don't [think] that there's anybody that can keep up with what the Dodgers are doing." Dodgers investor Magic Johnson: "When we took over the team we said we were going to spend money and I guess you guys are seeing that we're trying to do that. We're not messing around. We're not talking about it, we're doing it" (AP, 12/12).

LAST OF THE BIG-TIME SPENDERS: ESPN L.A.'s Mark Saxon noted since Guggenheim Baseball Management purchased the team in the spring, it has "taken on more than $600 million in player salaries." Ownership is also "in the midst of about $100 million in upgrades to Dodgers Stadium" (ESPNLA.com, 12/11). In L.A., Vincent Bonsignore wrote Kasten, Johnson, GBM have "done nothing but right by Los Angeles" since taking over the team, "pumping money into every corner of the franchise in hopes of delivering this storied franchise back to the top of baseball." Kasten said, "We have a lot of making up to do." Bonsignore: "Give Kasten credit for maintaining the current model probably isn't the one the Dodgers will follow moving forward" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 12/12). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said the Dodgers' projected 25-year TV deal with Fox that is reported to be worth $6-7B "is an absurdity.” Le Batard: "They can spend all of that and then they’ve got concessions and ticket sales and everything else. They’ve got a huge financial advantage right now over the rest of baseball, Yankees included” (“Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable,” ESPN2, 12/12).

WILL PARTS WORKS AS A TEAM? S.F. Chronicle's Ann Killion said the Dodgers are “putting together the ultimate All-Star team, but I’m really skeptical about it.” Oakland Tribune’s Monte Poole said, “I don’t think this is really a logical, rational plan to get better. ... But they’re in Los Angeles, and when you’re in L.A., you do what you have to do to get noticed for people to come out." Poole: "Their attendance there has been slipping for years now. The Angels have really picked up. They understand how to play the game in terms of getting attention. The Dodgers want people to notice them and that’s what this is about first and foremost.” Killion added, “They also need to buy back goodwill after the McCourt era” (“Chronicle Live,” Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 12/12).

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC? In L.A., Steve Dilbeck writes it is time for Johnson to "zip it." There is "something unseemly about the Dodgers holding consecutive press conferences this week, only for the biggest news for many media outlets to be Magic ripping the Lakers." Johnson "needs to stop talking about the Lakers." Despite no longer being a part-owner of the Lakers, he is "still mysteriously listed as their vice president." Dilbeck: "Should team vice presidents go around publicly ripping their head coach, who’s been on the job less than a month?" (L.A. TIMES, 12/13).
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