The mess in Dodgerland

Earlier today news broke that Major League Baseball will assume ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers. You can read Commissioner Bud Selig’s official statement here.

After years of mismanagement coupled with a messy divorce between owner Frank McCourt and his wife, former Dodgers CEO Jamie McCourt, the team has found itself saddled with over $400 million in debt. Last summer, Selig denied the team’s request to borrow $200 million from Fox Entertainment Group, which was believed intended to help McCourt cover payroll.

His recent request for $30 million seems to have been the final straw.

Currently, everyone on both sides seem to be choosing their words carefully and speculation has come only from anonymous sources. It is believed that MLB will move quickly to find a buyer for the team and that should pose no significant problems. However, declines in attendance the past few seasons for the Dodgers could prove to be a snag in any negotiations.

What does this mean for the beleaguered franchise?

Payroll has dropped over the past few seasons but it did spike a bit last offseason at $119 million. Obviously, freezes will happen if the team finds itself contending in July, since there won’t be any trades for high-priced veterans. But the major short-term change will be how the Dodgers approach the amateur draft in June. The team has the 16th pick in what is expected to be one of the deeper drafts in recent history, with no other pick until the second round, pick 74. Typically, the Dodgers have gone go well over recommended “slot” money in their pursuit of high-ceiling talent. That along with any high spending in the international market is expected to cease… at least for the moment.

A side note: Look for things to get really interesting if Selig is forced to go after his longtime friends the Wilpons, owners of the Mets, if that situation doesn’t improve soon.

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  1. Mat Kovach said...

    Can you start a “Dodgers moving back to Brooklyn” rumor?

    It would be FUN!

    I don’t know much about the Dodger fans, but would they be able to do a payroll trade dash and slash to get prospects?

    The NL West has the Rockies and Giants that look to be pretty good for a few years. Dodgers, with their payroll, appear to be at the same level as the Padres. Dodgers are going to need to shed some payroll and reload, but I don’t see how the can be competitive in the NL West during that time.

  2. Brad Johnson said...

    Like I said on the list serve, I see no reason why a new ownership group couldn’t do some serious rebuilding by trading Kemp, Ethier, and Billingley (even Kuo, Lilly, Garland, etc should be able to return some decent players). The Dodgers might have some rough years trying to squeeze a lineup out of guys like Dee Gordon, Trayvon Robinson, and Jamie Carroll type castaways, but the reinforcements they get from their non-Kershaw stars should quickly bolster the ranks.

    And once the debt is dealt with, you’d be left with a team that’s mostly 1-3 guys in a large market. Rebuilding that couldn’t be easier…so long as they don’t flop the trades.

    Kemp and Lilly to Yankeeland to start the trading season?

  3. Brad Johnson said...

    Haha very good question. The first name that came to mind for me was Mike Arbuckle, he’s overseen scouting with the 90’s Braves, 2000’s Phillies (until Amaro took over), and he’s been with the Royals since 2009. I’d want a guy whose strength is player development at the helm.

  4. Brad Johnson said...

    It sounds like the Wilpons should be able to cling to the Mets long enough for Selig to get out from under the Dodgers. Debt or no, it’s not like the Dodgers are the Expos, a new owner can expect to rehabilitate the franchise fairly quickly and could even compete a couple times during the process.

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