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

New York Yankees star Aaron Judge runs on the subject earlier than a recreation in opposition to the Pittsburgh Pirates in September. Are the Dodgers amassing a battle chest to sign the American League MVP? (Frank Franklin II/Associated Press)

The first wave of the Dodgers’ offseason is full.

And as they march into winter, they have any variety of potential roads mendacity forward.

Through the opening weeks of free company, the staff has largely shed payroll.

With the expiring contracts of Trea Turner, Craig Kimbrel, David Price and different free brokers — not together with pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who is predicted to finalize a one-year contract subsequent week to return to the staff in 2023 — the Dodgers already had about $70 million coming off the books.

After declining Justin Turner’s membership choice and, on Friday, non-tendering former National League MVP heart fielder Cody Bellinger, the staff has freed up about one other $30 million extra for subsequent 12 months’s payroll.

The query now: What will the Dodgers do with their 9 figures of economic flexibility? And how aggressive will they be in spending this newfound $100 million to construct their 2023 roster?

As the offseason rolls on, listed below are 4 issues to watch.

Will the Dodgers pursue Aaron Judge?

Aaron Judge hits a solo home run against the Angels on Aug.  29

Aaron Judge hits a solo house run in opposition to the Angels on Aug. 29 (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

The more cash the Dodgers have cleared from the books, the extra their identify has been hooked up to the largest targets on the free-agent market.

There have been rumors linking them with Aaron Judge, the American League MVP outfielder anticipated to fetch the largest contract of any participant this offseason.

They’ve been talked about in stories with Cy Young-caliber arms equivalent to Justin Verlander and Jacob deGrom, who may fill a want in their beginning rotation.

Trea Turner, Carlos Correa and a number of other different extremely touted shortstops stay accessible, as properly.

And at this level, there may be seemingly nobody out of the Dodgers’ seemingly ever-expanding worth vary.

So, will the staff make a renewed run at one other famous person addition?

President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman didn’t say for positive throughout a video name with reporters Friday.

“I believe each offseason, you have decisions to make in phrases of consolidating sources into one participant or spreading it round,” Friedman mentioned. “Some offseasons we go in having only a few wants, some we have extra. And proper now we have got a variety of spots to tackle. Again, a few of them we are able to do internally. But it is simply balancing that.”

Reset the luxury tax?

Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers' president of baseball operations, speaks during a news conference Oct.  18

Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations, speaks throughout a information convention Oct. 18 (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

The different factor the Dodgers may do with their freed-up payroll: reserve it, and try to reset their luxury tax payroll after paying penalties every of the previous two seasons.

Next season, MLB’s luxury tax threshold can be $233 million.

According to Fangraphs’ Roster Resource database, the Dodgers estimated luxury tax payroll is at $168.7 million (though that doesn’t embody Kershaw’s undisclosed, soon-to-be-finalized deal).

It presents the alternative of a luxury tax reset — particularly as a result of groups’ tax payments multiply annually they surpass the threshold.

Friedman was non-committal when requested Friday if the Dodgers have been contemplating making an attempt to keep below the luxury tax threshold.

“Payroll choices issue into each resolution that each staff makes,” he mentioned. “If you look again over the final seven, eight years, it is in all probability factored in much less for us than it has for the different 29 groups. But it is nonetheless a issue There are nonetheless issues that we have to steadiness and juggle and try to put ourselves in the greatest place to have the greatest staff potential.”

According to Justin Turner, nevertheless, the matter has already factored into his current negotiations with the staff.

“It’s a enterprise and they have some choices to make,” Turner instructed AM570 in a radio interview Thursday. “As far as, there’s all this crap about luxury tax and payroll and paying a gagillion {dollars} in taxes as a result of the payroll has been excessive the previous couple of years. I believe they’re making an attempt to work out what they want to do, and prioritize what’s greatest for them.”

Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger coming again?

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks in September.

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner bats in opposition to the Arizona Diamondbacks in September. (Ringo HW Chiu/Associated Press)

Although the Dodgers allowed Justin Turner and Bellinger to turn out to be free brokers, they’re nonetheless holding out hope of bringing each gamers again in 2023.

Turner, who had his $16 million membership choice declined final week, instructed AM570 he stays “in good standing with the Dodgers” but additionally famous that “it is also a enterprise, and issues occur and choices are made, that typically are out of our management , so we’ll see what occurs.”

Bellinger, who possible would have made greater than $18 million by means of arbitration had he been tendered a contract, will now be in the identical boat, and is predicted to draw loads of curiosity from different groups keen to take a flier on a former MVP.

“We really feel like with our workers and sources that, getting him to work this offseason, we have a actual probability of working with him to assist get him again on observe,” Friedman mentioned. “But he will get to exit and make the greatest resolution for him and his household and we’ll see the place that finally ends up.”

What are the Dodgers’ roster holes?

Dodgers second baseman Gavin Lux throws to first during a game against the Kansas City Royals in August.

Dodgers second baseman Gavin Lux throws to first throughout a recreation in opposition to the Kansas City Royals in August. (Reed Hoffman/Associated Press)

The Dodgers do not essentially want superstars, or acquainted faces, to fill all of their present 2023 roster holes.

They may look into cheaper beginning pitching choices and try to replicate the success they had final season with Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney (who additionally stays a free agent and could possibly be re-signed).

They may flip to former first-round decide Gavin Lux at shortstop, and fill out the remainder of their infield with a combination of youthful gamers (equivalent to Miguel Vargas and Michael Busch) and low-cost veterans.

Their newly created opening in heart subject could possibly be addressed the identical means. Trayce Thompson, Chris Taylor and James Outman all function in-house choices. External names equivalent to Kevin Kiermaier, the former Tampa Bay Ray who broke into the huge leagues whereas Friedman was that membership’s GM, may additionally make sense.

“We’re gonna spend the subsequent few months vetting all of our numerous choices and making an attempt to be as aggressive as we might be,” Friedman mentioned. “Balancing that with making an attempt to give some alternative to a few of the proficient younger pitching we have, a few of the proficient younger place gamers we have.”

The solely factor clear for now: Just about each potential door is open for the Dodgers this winter.

They’ve stripped off about as a lot fats from final 12 months’s roster as they may. Now, it is time to see what recipe they’ll use to concoct their 2023 staff.

“I’m assured we’ll have a actual good staff on the subject and we’ll be in place to contend for a championship,” Friedman mentioned. “Exactly what that appears like, I do not suppose we have ever actually had readability on what that is going to appear to be on Nov. 18.”

This story initially appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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