The Dodgers certainly aren’t taking their time this offseason, are they? After getting things started quickly by bringing back Juan Rivera, they’ve now snapped up Mark Ellis, have agreed in principle to an extension for Matt Kemp, and are getting close to adding catcher Matt Treanor. Yet they’re not done yet, because they still need at least one starting pitcher (preferably two), one more bench bat, and Ned Colletti’s yearly “oh god, my bullpen is too young and talented” veteran reliever.
But as Dylan Hernandez points out today, the 2012 payroll could be less than it was in 2011. So it’s fair to ask – after the recent spending spree, how much is left? When I did my 2012 plan a few weeks ago (one which looks more outdated by the day), I noted that the 2011 club had spent about $98m on player salaries and an additional $17m or so on “dead money”, or approximately $115m total. Before they had done anything this winter, they already had $99m committed for 2012, broken down by category, and assuming that James Loney is tendered but Hong-Chih Kuo is not:
2012 commitments as of 11/1/11
We’ll assume that Kemp’s new contract is backloaded in such a way that his 2012 salary doesn’t change that much in either direction, and since then they’ve either added or are likely to add the following new contracts:
$7.5m of new money – $4m for Rivera, $2.5m for Ellis (backloaded, per Hernandez, and let’s enjoy paying him $5.25m in 2013!) and ~$1m for Treanor (per Jon Morosi, though it’s not finalized yet; if he doesn’t get it, someone else will to fill that role.)
That puts the budget up to about $106.5m, with $84m of that being 2012 players – which I assume is what Hernandez is referring to when he says that the payroll could be less, because only nerds like us remember the “dead money”. Yet if Hernandez is correct and that number is to be lower – and let’s admit we don’t know if Hernandez’ info is good (though he’s generally excellent) or how much lower we’re talking about – the Dodgers could have only about $10m remaining to spend for the 2012 club. Is that enough to bring back Kuroda (who, by the way, decided to return for 2011 a year ago today, so the clock is ticking)? To get a fifth starter so Nathan Eovaldi can go back to the minors? To get another righty 1B/OF bench bat to ensure that Loney & Ethier never have to face lefties again? To bring back Tony Gwynn, as seems likely? To accommodate the inevitable guaranteed veteran reliever who will show up?
There are ways to decrease these commitments, I suppose. Maybe Loney is non-tendered, though that seems unlikely and you’d still need to replace him. Perhaps Kemp’s contract is even more backloaded than we think it’ll be. Or maybe this is finally the year Ethier gets traded, though again, I wouldn’t count on that. Either way, we can stop with the Prince Fielder and Aramis Ramirez talk, because it’s just not happening. Personally, I’d be happy with bringing back Kuroda for one more year and fill in around the edges as best as can be done.
Joey Matschulat of Baseball Time in Arlington on Treanor:
Treanor did, of course, end up finding his way back to Texas when the Rangers acquired him just before the August 31st waiver-period trade deadline, but came to the plate only 12 times over the final month of the regular season, and didn’t record a single post-season plate appearance. For all of the praise that Treanor drew a year earlier vis-a-vis his game-calling and ability to handle the Rangers’ pitching staff, he had clearly ceded his previously high spot in the backstop pecking order to Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba, and thusly found himself relegated to more of an emergency catching/pinch-hitting role.