Los Angeles Dodgers: The Logic of Taking on Big Stars and Huge Salaries

Friday August 31st, 2012

Bernie Olshansky:  The Los Angeles Dodgers have gone all out this year, trading for Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, and four former Red Sox players in one big swap: Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Nick Punto, and a game-changer in Adrian Gonzalez. Right now, the Dodgers are what one would call “stacked”. They have stars at many of their positions and have added key pieces to their pitching staff. Fans of any team dream of this. But, these acquisitions came with a heavy, heavy cost.

The Dodgers went after underperforming stars that weren’t living up to their large contracts. Hanley Ramirez had failed to rebound like the Marlins expected this year, so the Dodgers got him for a low price on the condition that they would take on the rest of his contract. Money is not too much of an issue for the Dodgers under new ownership, and it is evident. The second—and even more impressive—move that the Dodgers made involved the Red Sox. Carl Crawford had been an absolute bust for Boston. He has not played a full season after signing a major contract two years ago, and recently shut his season down to get Tommy John Surgery. Adrian Gonzalez had a good year for the Red Sox in 2011, but started off this year slowly and didn’t produce the way the Sox hoped. Josh Beckett has also been awful this year, posting over a five ERA.

So, the Dodgers gladly took advantage of the Red Sox unfortunate situation and claimed Adrian Gonzalez on waivers. Some speculated that a trade wouldn’t be made, but the organizations kept negotiating. In the end, a deal was proposed on one condition: Carl Crawford, Nick Punto, and Josh Beckett would need to be thrown into the deal with Adrian Gonzalez in order for the Red Sox to accept. Without the contract situations, this deal seems absurd. Why would the Red Sox want to give away the three stars that were supposed to be an integral part of their teams of the future? This is simple. The Red Sox signed these players for too much money and for too long, which would possibly handicap the team in the future. This was some good old-fashioned “salary dumping.” The Dodgers took on these contracts in hopes that they can win now.

Currently, the Dodgers sit three games behind the Giants in the National League West. This season has been an improvement from last year when they went 82-79 and finished third in the West. The trade for Shane Victorino is for the short term; Victorino is only signed through the end of this year. He will play left field for the rest of the season and (hopefully for the Dodgers) help the team reach the playoffs. The Dodgers made this blockbuster trade with the Red Sox after getting swept by the Giants at home. Los Angeles obviously is hoping to get enough of a boost with these moves to get past San Francisco. I thought they had enough to get past the Giants with Ramirez and Victorino, but they scuffled and possibly sacrificed their future to contend now.

Hanley Ramirez is signed through 2014—the smallest of the contracts the Dodgers picked up. He shouldn’t be a reason why the Dodgers will not be a powerhouse in the future, but he does eat up a large chunk of salary. Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford will be killers for the Dodgers. Gonzalez is signed through 2018 and is 30 years old now. He will be 36 in 2018 and will still be paid over $20 million. No 36-year-old, in my opinion, should be paid that much due to the probable decline in production. Carl Crawford too, will be a drain on salary. Crawford is signed through 2017 and carries a 7-year $142 million contract. He is 31 years old now, so the Dodgers will be paying Crawford and Gonzalez roughly the same amount of money in their age-36 seasons. Crawford’s contract has the potential to be even worse, given his frequency of injuries and lack of playing time over the past couple of years. Josh Beckett is signed through 2014 on a 4-year $60 million contract. He might not be worth the money the way he is pitching now.

If the Dodgers’ goal is to win a World Series as a result of these moves, they better do it soon. The more time that goes by, the less chance they have of winning as the acquired stars age. In addition, the other teams in the division will be able to sign high-profile free agents and the Dodgers will have to stand idly by with the majority of their money invested in high risk-high reward players.That is of course, if they don’t mind the penalties that will come with overspending. Given what they have shown so far, expect the unexpected from the Dodgers going forward.

(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)

***Today’s feature was prepared by Bernie Olshansky, Baseball Writer & Facebook Administrator.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Bernie on Twitter (@BernieOlshansky)***


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About bernieolshansky

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve experienced some exciting times with the local baseball teams—the Giants winning the World Series being the most memorable highlight. Some of my favorite players include Felix Hernandez, Tim Lincecum, and Cliff Lee among others. I played baseball up through my freshman year of high school and transitioned into being a full time fan. I regularly attend major and minor league games when I have free time. I enjoy working at a baseball store. I’m in my senior year of high school and hope to major in Journalism or Sports Administration in college. Follow Bernie on Twitter (@BernieOlshansky).

Posted on August 31, 2012, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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