The Dodgers beat out the Angels, Giants and Cubs to prevail in the Chase Utley sweepstakes, acquiring him last week for two minor leaguers.
Not only did the Dodgers acquire a left-handed hitting second baseman to replace injured Howie Kendrick when trading for Utley, they also added approximately $2 million in salary, which puts them ever-so-close to being the first team in MLB history to have a $300 million luxury tax payroll.
To put it in perspective, the Dodgers have more than $60 million more in payroll obligations than the two teams sitting atop the National League Wild Card standings – the Cubs ($120.3 million) and Pirates ($90.1 million) – combined.
The idea that the Dodgers could fit the Pirates and Cubs — two teams with better record than theirs — comfortably under their budget is amusing and frightening at the same time. And that’s without even considering the luxury tax implications.
The team’s projected tax bill for this season is around $44 million — or $17 million more than it paid last season. The Dodgers could pay $10 million more than the previous high tax bill, which was paid by the 2005 Yankees. Those Yankees, who paid $30 million more in luxury tax than the Red Sox that season, won 95 games and capture the American League East title. However, they were eliminated by the Angels in the ALDS.
It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that the Dodgers could suffer a similar fate, as they’ve been eliminated by the Cardinals in each of the last two NLDS despite ranking first and second in payroll.
According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Dodgers opened the season with a payroll of $271,608, 629. You can check out their player-by-player breakdown here, if you’re curious to know how the Dodgers have spent their wads of cash.
In 2001, the Dodgers’ $115,478,346 worth of salary obligations for the end-of-year 40-man roster was the highest in baseball. Fifteen years later, the franchise is on pace to shatter that by a whopping $185 million.
Talk about flexing your financial muscle.