No, The Dodgers Aren’t Being Cheap

I was looking at the mailbag questions — and I swear we’ll do another soon — and I came across this gem, which, what:

I read all the time about the Dodger’s financial clout. Yet they don’t appear to use it. How much money since the GM change have the Dodgers spent on players minus what they have given/traded away. I would guess it’s not much.

Jesse, if you’re reading this, nothing personal. I don’t mean to call you out here. It’s just that it’s not the first time I’ve heard this…

… and it blows my mind each and every time. The Dodgers! These Dodgers! Being cheap! I mean, if I may borrow from this FanGraphs post from last week:

The Dodgers guaranteed money for 2017 would rank sixth in Opening Day payroll for this season.

Do remember that the Dodgers are spending something like $260 million this year, easily the biggest payroll in baseball history, and that’s not even counting what they’re being hit with via the luxury tax. To accuse them of being stingy, well, it’s just ludicrous.

To try to understand where this opinion is coming from, well, I suppose it’s the idea that they didn’t give big-ticket contracts to Andrew Miller or David Robertson, instead going with smaller upgrades in Chris Hatcher and Joel Peralta. (As though money equals bullpen success, a fact you’d think would be remembered by the Brian Wilson / Brandon League / Chris Perez bullpen of 2014.) They didn’t get Yoan Moncada, even though Dustin very capably explained why the plan seems to be to spend enormously on July 2 instead.

They let Hanley Ramirez leave via free agency, and they traded Matt Kemp to San Diego in part to offload the risk of the remaining five years of his contract. They didn’t add Jon Lester or Max Scherzer or James Shields to the rotation, instead preferring to take risks on lower-priced guys like Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, and Brandon Beachy, even though that makes sense. They didn’t beat Toronto’s five-year/$82 million contract to bring Russell Martin home, even though topping that commitment would have been lunacy.

The new front office wasn’t brought in to simply spend blindly without thinking about it; if you wanted that, you could have simply retained Ned Colletti. Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi and friends are here to spend smartly. If money guaranteed success, the Dodgers would have won a championship in the last quarter-century. The Yankees would have more than one in the 21st century. The Red Sox wouldn’t have missed the playoffs four times in five years.

That’s just not how it works, and while the Dodgers may not have made any bigger acquisitions than McCarthy this winter, we’ve talked a bunch of times about how much deeper and better the roster is overall. Improved defense and less risk just aren’t sexy, and they don’t take a ton of money to implement. The Dodgers are smarter, and they’re still carrying baseball’s biggest payroll. Cheap? No. Far from it.

About Mike Petriello

Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is