Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman spoke with reporters (including The Los Angeles Times’ Mike DiGiovanna, The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya, and The Orange County Register’s Bill Plunkett) about several topics surrounding the team, including how much payroll might be available to acquire or re-sign premium players this winter. Unsurprisingly, Friedman didn’t state any kind of dollar figure, noting that he has yet to receive an official budget for 2022. That said, he noted that “our [ownership] group has demonstrated at every single turn its strong desire to win, and this year will be no different. What that means in terms of an actual payroll number, I’m not sure, but I feel confident we’ll have the requisite talent to be a real championship competitor.”
By far the biggest spenders in baseball in 2021, the Dodgers soared over the Competitive Balance Tax threshold with an approximated $275MM tax number. While it isn’t clear if L.A. will quite hit those payroll heights again, it seems very likely that the Dodgers will pay more tax penalties next year considering how much money is already on their books. Of course, we also don’t know what the luxury tax threshold will even be next year, or if the CBT will be altered as players and owners negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.
More from Friedman…
- It doesn’t seem like Mookie Betts will need any sort of procedure to fix the hip injuries that plagued him in 2021. Hip inflammation twice sent Betts to the 10-day injured list for brief absences last year, and while his production was down from his usual numbers, Betts still hit .264/.367/.487 with 23 homers over 550 plate appearances even while being less than 100 percent for most of the season.
- Freidman reiterated that the team wants manager Dave Roberts “to be a big part of what we accomplish looking forward,” though the Dodgers have more immediate offseason business that must be addressed before the club can talk with Roberts about a contract extension. Roberts’ four-year deal is up after the 2022 season, and the 49-year-old has an outstanding 542-329 record over his six seasons as the Los Angeles manager, with the 2020 World Series championship, two other NL pennants, and five NL West titles on his resume.
- The Dodgers already made a quick move to sign Andrew Heaney to a one-year, $8.5MM deal, and the Dodgers “feel like there’s some real upside we can tap into,” Friedman said. “He’s got really strong ingredients in place, and there are a few different levers we feel like we can potentially pull with him that he’s bought into and is eager to dive in on.” After a rough 2021 season, Heaney is hoping to rebound in Los Angeles and then re-enter the free agent market on the strength of a much better platform year. This one-year commitment is just fine with Friedman, as he noted that adding a veteran as rotation depth allows the Dodgers’ pitching prospects more seasoning time in the minors.
- Friedman also provided on some of the Dodgers’ Tommy John recovery cases. Tommy Kahnle and Caleb Ferguson respectively underwent their procedures in August 2020 and September 2020, and the PBO said both hurlers should “be ready by Opening Day or shortly thereafter.” Dustin May underwent his TJ surgery almost exactly six months ago and has already started a throwing program, tentatively setting up a return after the All-Star Game. “Everything to this point has been incredibly positive. I think [May] is going to impact us at some point in the second half,” Friedman said.