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Dodgers have shed millions in payroll. Will they sign a star or try to reset the luxury tax?

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Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees runs across the field before a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, in New York City.  (AP Photo/Franklin II)
New York Yankees star Aaron Judge runs down the field before a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in September. Are the Dodgers raising money to sign the American League MVP? (Frank Franklin II/Associated Press)

First wave Dodgers“The off-season is over.

And as they move into the winter, there are many possible paths ahead of them.

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During the first weeks of free agency, the team cut the payroll to a large extent.

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With expiring contracts Three Turner, Craig Kimbrel, David Price and other free agents other than the pitcher Clayton Kershawwho pending completion of a one-year contract next week to return to the team in 2023 — the Dodgers have already lost about $70 million.

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After rejection Club version of Justin Turner and on Friday non-bidding former National League center fielder Cody Bellingerthe team freed up about another $30 million to pay wages the following year.

Now the question is: what will the Dodgers do with their nine-figure financial flexibility? And how aggressively will they spend that newfound $100 million to build their 2023 lineup?

As the off-season approaches, here are four things to watch out for.

Will the Dodgers go after Aaron Judge?

Aaron Judge hits a solo home run against the Angels on August 29.
Aaron Judge hits a solo home run against the Angels on August 29. (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

The more money the Dodgers deducted from the books, the more their name was tied to the biggest goals in the free agent market.

There were rumors that they were associated with Aaron Judge, American League Outfielder MVP It is expected that in the off-season he will receive the largest contract of any player.

They have been mentioned in reports with Cy Young arms like Justin Verlander and Jacob de Grom that could fill the need for their starting rotation.

Trea Turner, Carlos Correa and several other highly publicized shortstops also remain available.

And for now, there doesn’t seem to be anyone from the Dodgers’ seemingly ever-expanding price range.

So, will the team make another run for another superstar?

President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman didn’t say exactly during a video call with reporters on Friday.

“I think every off-season you have the choice of consolidating resources in one player or spreading them out,” Friedman said. “Some off-seasons we have very few needs, some we have more. And right now we have a number of places that need to be addressed. Again, some of these we can do internally. But it’s just a balancing act.”

Drop the luxury tax?

Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations for the Dodgers, speaks at a press conference on October 18.
Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations for the Dodgers, speaks at a press conference on October 18. (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

Another thing the Dodgers could do with their released payroll is keep it and try to reset their luxury tax payroll after paying fines in each of the last two seasons.

Next season, the MLB luxury tax threshold will be $233 million.

According to Fangraphs’ Roster Resource database, the Dodgers’ luxury tax settlement is valued at $168.7 million (although this does not include Kershaw’s undisclosed deal, which will soon be completed).

This provides an opportunity to reset the luxury tax, especially as teams’ tax bills increase every year they go over the threshold.

Friedman was noncommittal when asked Friday if the Dodgers were considering trying to stay below the luxury tax threshold.

“Wage decisions affect every decision every team makes,” he said. – If you look back at the last seven or eight years, for us it will probably count less than for the other 29 teams. But it’s still a factor. There are still things we have to balance and juggle and try to put ourselves in the best position to have the best team.”

However, according to Justin Turner, this topic has already been discussed in his recent talks with the team.

“This is a business and they need to make some decisions,” Turner told AM570 in a radio interview on Thursday. “As for all this luxury and payroll tax bullshit and paying a billion dollars in taxes because the payroll has been high for the last few years. I think they’re trying to figure out what they need to do and prioritize what’s best for them.”

Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger are back?

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner plays against the Arizona Diamondbacks in September.
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner plays against the Arizona Diamondbacks in September. (Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press)

While the Dodgers have allowed both Justin Turner and Bellinger to become free agents, they still hope to bring both players back in 2023.

Turner, who was denied a $16 million club option last week, told AM570 he remains “in good standing with the Dodgers” but also noted that “it’s also a business and things happen and decisions are made that are sometimes out of our control. so let’s see what happens.”

Bellinger, who would likely have made over $18 million through arbitration had he been offered a contract, will now find himself in the same boat and is expected to generate a lot of interest from other teams looking to take on the role of the former MVP.

“We feel like with our staff and resources, having him work this offseason, we have a real chance to work with him to help him get back on track,” Friedman said. “But he can go out and make a better decision for himself and his family, and we’ll see how that ends.”

What are the holes in the Dodgers roster?

Dodgers second baseman Gavin Lux throws for first place during a game against the Kansas City Royals in August.
Dodgers second baseman Gavin Lux throws for first place during a game against the Kansas City Royals in August. (Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press)

The Dodgers don’t necessarily need superstars or familiar faces to fill all the gaps in their current roster for 2023.

They could consider cheaper starting pitches and try to replicate the success they had last season. Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney (who also remains a free agent and may be re-signed).

They can turn to the former first round pick Gavin Lux shortstop, and fill the rest of your infield with a mixture of young players (like Miguel Vargas and Michael Busch) and low-cost veterans.

In the same way, their newly created hole in the center of the field could also be solved. Trace Thompson, Chris Taylor and James Outman all serve as interior options. Outside names like Kevin Kiermeier, the former Tampa Bay Ray player who broke into the big leagues when Friedman was the club’s general manager, could also make sense.

“We’re going to spend the next few months testing all of our different options and trying to be as aggressive as possible,” Friedman said. “Balancing that with trying to give some opportunities to some of the talented young players that we have, some of the talented young players in the positions that we have.”

The only thing that is clear at the moment is that almost every possible door is open for the Dodgers this winter.

They got rid of last year’s squad as much as they could. Now it’s time to see what recipe they’ll use to come up with their 2023 team.

“I’m sure we’ll have a really good team on the field and we’ll be able to fight for the championship,” Friedman said. “How exactly it looks like, I don’t think we’ve ever had clarity on what it will look like on November 18th.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.


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