2012 Contract Issues: Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers are next in our 2012 Contract Issues series.  Here's what the team faces after the 2011 season:

Eligible For Free Agency (11)

  • Starter Hiroki Kuroda, 36, is rolling along with another strong season.  I'm guessing the Dodgers will have another shot to sign him to a one-year deal after the season, as Kuroda has a full no-trade clause.
  • Jonathan Broxton lost the closer job again this season, and he's currently on the DL with an elbow injury.  At one point he seemed destined for a monster free agent contract, but instead he might want a one-year deal to rebuild value.
  • Rod Barajas leads all NL catchers with seven home runs, though it doesn't get much worse than a .260 OBP.  The Dodgers may give some thought to re-signing him on a one-year deal.
  • Jamey Carroll has been quite valuable filling in for Rafael Furcal; his .374 OBP leads all MLB shortstops.  Carroll should top his last two-year deal and ought to seek a team that will play him every day.  Before then, he could be popular at the trade deadline.
  • Vicente Padilla had the Dodgers' closer role for a short period of time, but then landed on the DL with more forearm concerns.  We'll have to see how the rest of his season goes before assessing his value.
  • Lance Cormier has been terrible, and might not make it to the end of the season with the Dodgers.
  • Dioner Navarro missed most of April with an oblique injury and hasn't done anything yet.
  • Marcus Thames hasn't played much this year due to a quad injury.  Vision problems have sidelined Jay Gibbons.
  • Mike MacDougal is doing his usual tightrope act, but the beleaguered Dodgers bullpen needs him right now.
  • Aaron Miles is also eligible for free agency.  The Dodgers could see quite a bit of turnover next year.

Contract Options (3)

  • Rafael Furcal: $12MM club option with a $1.3MM buyout.  Furcal's latest Dodgers contract has been a frustrating one due to injuries.  I can't picture the Dodgers exercising this, and I can envision them moving him this summer depending on what his no-trade clause allows.
  • Casey Blake: $6MM club option with a $1.25MM buyout.  Blake is finishing up rehab for an elbow injury.  He was hitting well before that in a small sample.
  • Jon Garland: $8MM club option with a $500K buyout; vests with 190 IP.  At his current pace, another 22 or 23 starts would not be enough for Garland to reach 190 innings.  It'd be the first time he's failed to do so since he was a reliever a decade ago.  I don't picture the Dodgers exercising at a $7.5MM net price.

Arbitration Eligible (7)

The Dodgers have an interesting arbitration group.  Kershaw should top Jered Weaver's first-time record for a starting pitcher, though David Price may beat Kershaw and in a way the record is technically and should remain the Giants' $8MM filing for Tim Lincecum last year.  Kemp and Ethier both kept their final arbitration years open, and now it's time to get paid.  Ethier is operating from a higher salary point, but each player should be able to exceed $12MM.  Targets for their agents may include Mark Teixeira's $12.5MM in '08 or even Prince Fielder's $15.5MM this year. 

Loney probably should have been non-tendered or dealt last offseason; he's highly unlikely to be tendered a contract this time.  Kuo, on the DL with anxiety disorder, is an unknown.  Troncoso and Gwynn could be cut, though they wouldn't cost much to retain.  For my rough estimate I'll put Kershaw at $6MM and Kemp and Ethier at $13MM each, plus Kuo at $3MM for a total of $35MM.

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Dodgers' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $48MM if you include all three buyouts on the options.  Our arbitration estimate puts them at $83MM, a solid $37MM short of this year's payroll without considering minimum salary players.  The big question, of course, is the team's ownership situation.  If by November Bud Selig successfully removes Frank McCourt from the picture entirely and installs a new owner, the Dodgers figure to be major players in free agency.  If not, I have to think payroll would be cut.  In that case GM Ned Colletti would still have some spending money, just not for the big names.

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