The Los Angeles Dodgers have been relatively quiet this offseason.
Clayton Kershaw is back, but that move was almost a given. Noah Syndergaard signed on Wednesday as an intriguing bounceback arm. Otherwise, the Dodgers have brought in Shelby Miller and Jason Heyward and acquired J.P. Feyereisen in a trade. While those moves may have been exciting in 2015 or 2016, these are not the types of moves that one would expect from the Dodgers.
Los Angeles Dodgers may have eye on bigger prizes
As it currently stands, even with Syndergaard’s $13 million salary, the Dodgers’ projected payroll for 2023 is just over $200 million. While that is far below the luxury tax threshold for this year, there is a caveat – the Dodgers do not know what is happening with Trevor Bauer’s appeal. If he returns, that money is back on their cap. No matter what, it appears as though the Dodgers’ goal is to stay under the luxury tax and reset their penalty.
Why is that? It may have to do with one specific player. Shohei Ohtani is currently scheduled to reach free agency after the 2023 campaign, putting a truly unique player on the market. Not only can he slot anywhere in the lineup due to his powerful bat and impressive speed, but he is a true top of the rotation starter who could be an ace on most teams.
He is likely to set a record for the highest average annual value on a contract, surpassing Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. The only question is how high his salary will go as it would not be a surprise to see Ohtani’s next deal approach $50 million per year. He is going to get paid – it is just a matter of who will do it.
This is something that the Dodgers are going to be cognizant of. He would immediately upgrade multiple aspects of their roster and provide a major boost towards their goal of winning a championship. Ohtani himself has said that winning is a priority for him, and at this point, the Dodgers would give him one of the best chances in the majors of doing so.
But that salary is going to have implications. Whichever team brings him in is likely to exceed the luxury tax by a significant amount, especially as they would need to continue to build around Ohtani. For the Dodgers, that could mean a relatively quiet 2022-23 offseason with their sights set on a much bigger prize next year.
The Los Angeles Dodgers appear to be determined to reset their luxury tax bill. Shohei Ohtani’s impending free agency could be the reason why.