Money is clearly no object for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but there’s at least one contract they’d probably like to erase from their books.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are routinely at, or near, the top of the MLB payroll table. The deal they gave Trevor Bauer this offseason put them over $40 million clear of everyone else for 2021, as most other teams stayed out of the fray for big moves. So they aren’t afraid to spend, and there are practically no such thing as sunk costs. That spending finally paid off in a World Series win last fall.
Signing Bauer was clearly done with an eye on a repeat, and staying a legit championship contender beyond this year as Clayton Kershaw enters the last year of his contract. Warding off the up-and-coming division rival San Diego Padres will require the Dodgers to leave no stones unturned going forward.
In looking at the Dodgers’ balance sheet, there’s obviously some big money this year at the top and some looming big money looking down the road (Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager). Finding a contract they’d easily scrub from the books is more difficult than it seems.
David Price could be an expensive reliever
There’s no criticism for his decision, but David Price opted out of the 2020 season. With that, elbow issues in two of the previous three seasons with the Red Sox and his age (35), the Dodgers can’t know exactly what they’ll get from him in 2021. But with nice rotation depth, it may not matter that much. Price, for what it’s worth, is open to pitching out of the bullpen.
As part of the deal that brought him to Los Angeles, the Red Sox are picking up half of Price’s $32 million salaries in each of the next two seasons. So the Dodgers are on the hook for $16 million in 2021 and 2022 (#math), the remainder of Price’s contract, which doesn’t seem that bad. But if he struggles to stay healthy, or ends up pitching exclusively out of the bullpen, the return on that reduced investment will not look good.
Questions about Kenley Jansen’s staying power as the Dodgers’ closer makes it possible to point at his contract ($20 million for 2021) as one they (and fans) might like to erase. But he’s entering the final year of his contract. Outfielder A.J. Pollock might also stand out at a glance, but $10 million player options for 2022 and 2023 ($5 million buyout) reduce the odor there.
So two years being locked in to Price, at $16 million per with no promises with his role or his health (with there obviously being no guarantees with the latter), makes his contract the one the Dodgers would erase if they could.