x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

The Los Angeles dimes are rolling

Since changing ownership the Dodgers have taken big-spending to another level, writes Carroll Rogers.

Adrian Gonzalez is a commodity in the Los Angeles Dodgers' spending spree.
Adrian Gonzalez is a commodity in the Los Angeles Dodgers' spending spree.

So much for the feel-good stories in recent years of small-market teams like Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays or Minnesota Twins.

Make way for your 2012 Los Angeles Dodgers. Cha-ching.

That is the sound that has been coming out of Southern California for months now, and it is only getting louder. A new ownership group with black holes for pockets has the storied Dodger franchise doing its best New York Yankees impression: spending, spending more and spending again.

The Guggenheim Partners paid US$2.15 billion (Dh 7.89bn) for the Dodgers last spring. They were just getting warmed up. In June, they spent $85m extending outfielder Andre Ethier's contract by seven years and another $42m to sign Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig.

In July, the Dodgers took on another $42.5m in salary with the additions of shortstop Hanley Ramirez, outfielder Shane Victorino and relievers Brandon League and Randy Choate.

In August, they spent another $3m when they traded for Joe Blanton. The pitcher they really wanted from the Phillies was left-hander Cliff Lee, who was owed some $100m. But even without Lee, the Dodgers had spent $172.5m in less than three months. They weren't through. Not by a few million.

The Dodgers took on another $260m last week when they acquired first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, right-hander Josh Beckett, centre fielder Carl Crawford and utility man Nick Punto in a trade from Boston. It was the first time in baseball history a team traded for two players owed $100m or more (Gonzalez and Crawford) in the same deal.

The Dodgers made no apologies.

"The value of this franchise is represented in the price we paid — that doesn't go up or down with one or two players' salaries," Mark Walter, the Dodgers principal owner and chairman, told reporters.

When asked about concerns over reaching luxury tax thresholds, Dodgers president Stan Kasten said, "[Owners] Mark [Walter] and Magic [Earvin Johnson] don't even ask me about that." Before the trade was finalised, the Dodgers were being labelled the "Yankees of the West." Fine by them.

Manager Don Mattingly, a six-time All-Star with the Yankees, dusted off an old response. "Are you playing within the rules?" Mattingly asked The LA Times. "That's what I always looked at. They used to say that about the Yankees. If you don't like it, change the rules."

Gonzalez hit a three-run home run in his first at-bat as a Dodger in an 8-2 win over Miami. The Dodgers lost five of their next six. Whether they claim a post-season berth, they are looking a whole lot richer for trying.