Hot Stove League #3, 2022-2023

The Dodgers’ apparent attempt to stay below the luxury tax cutline was thrown into turmoil by MLB’s reinstatement of Trevor Bauer.

Whether or not the Dodgers release him, Bauer will still be owed $22.5 million this season. (That could drop to about $21.8 million if he is released and signed by another team on a league-minimum salary.)

That’s less than the $32 million Bauer was originally supposed to make in 2023. But even that reduced amount pushes the Dodgers’ estimated luxury tax payroll for next season, according to Fangraphs Roster Resource database, to just under $233 million — the threshold at which the league begins assessing luxury tax penalties.

After paying tax penalties the past two years, and facing an inflated 50% tax rate in 2023 for being a repeat offender, the Dodgers had previously seemed likely to stay below the $233-million tax line.

They had freed up more than $100 million in salary from last year’s team. They had made only a string of modest one-year signings so far this offseason. And though their lack of spending had netted an underwhelming cast of additions for next year, the long-term benefits of potentially resetting the tax now would have positioned them to spend big again next offseason, when Shohei Ohtani is set to headline the free agent market.

Bauer’s reduced suspension could complicate any such plans.

Staying below the tax line could box the Dodgers out from making other needed additions to the roster in 2023 — such as adding more pitching depth or a left-handed bat before the end of the winter, or trading for a shortstop or bona fide ace before the midsummer deadline.

On the other hand, if they do cross the threshold to complete their 2023 squad, the resulting penalties might make them less willing to pay a luxury tax again the following season, leaving the possibility of adding another lucrative long-term contract a year from now increasingly tenuous.

Given the team’s reluctance to sign Carlos Correa due to possible fan resistance, I can’t imagine them keeping Bauer, even though he’s been convicted of no crimes. I imagine there’s some heavy cogitation going on in the offices at 1000 Elysian Park Avenue.

41 thoughts on “Hot Stove League #3, 2022-2023

  1. There’s a proposal for a gondola ride from Union Station to Dodger Stadium, but it’s hit a stanchion.

    The idea originated with Frank McCourt (remember him?) and got initial agreement from Metro and from former Mayor Garcetti, but he’s gone and the new Mayor hasn’t shown her hand yet.

  2. When all is said and done and the dust finally settles, Dodgers paid Bauer $64.5 million for only 17 starts and 107.2 total innings pitched in a Dodgers uniform, during which he went 8-5 with a 2.59 ERA.

    • Not cheap, that’s for sure. Hopefully next time the front office will think long and hard before signing someone with pre-existing red flags.

      • Yep. This one is on Friedman and upper management. It was an ill considered signing from the start as there were plenty of warning signs about Bauer’s character.

  3. I applaud the decision to let Bauer go. I would have had a hard time seeing him pitch again in a Dodger uniform. Winning is not everything, not for me.

    • Yep, I agree. Letting him go is the right thing to do. Seems like he’s gotten a verdict of “not proven,” which is only available in Scotland. But that’s sufficient for me to say he’s got an odor about him that I don’t care to have associated with my team.

  4. MLB Metrics
    Dec 27, 2022
    Projected 2023 wins via ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle:

    103 Mets
    100 Padres
    99 Yankees
    99 Braves
    94 Rays
    93 Astros
    92 Cardinals
    90 Blue Jays
    90 Dodgers
    88 Guardians
    86 Brewers
    85 Phillies
    83 Mariners
    82 White Sox


  5. Ten umpires are retiring, not at the end of the upcoming season but right now.

    Ten MLB umpires, including seven crew chiefs, are set to retire at the end of the month, making it the largest turnover at that job since 1999, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN.

    Some of the retirements are due to nagging injuries while others are coincidental, as a group of the umpires entered the league around the same time — after a labor dispute saw 22 former umps resign at the end of last century.

    Well-respected crew chiefs Ted Barrett, Greg Gibson, Tom Hallion, Sam Holbrook, Jerry Meals, Jim Reynolds and Bill Welke are among the group to hang up their chest protectors, while Marty Foster, Paul Nauert and Tim Timmons will join them in retirement.

    • If he is released, there will be MLB teams lining up to get him for league minimum. I think releasing him is a big mistake as he will be pitching for someone else on our dime. Probably the Padres or Giants. I have no problem with the Dodgers bringing him back for one year.

    • When a year doesn’t have Sandy Koufax leading the candidates, nor Bob Gibson, nor Felipe Alou, Bobby Richardson or Tony Kubek, it’s one heck of a year (1935). Who was that paragon? Frank Robinson.

  6. Link: Thank you for the update. I expect that the Dodgers’
    reluctance/failure to make any major signings since the season ended was
    in large part because they were waiting for the other shoe to drop: the
    Bauer case. Now that it has, I hope that Bauer never pitches again for
    the Dodgers. The Dodgers’ two greatest pitchers over the past 60-plus
    years — Koufax and Kershaw — have been outstanding people as well.
    Bauer certainly doesn’t fit that mold. The 2023 Dodgers will be
    depending heavily on contributions from minor leaguers who will get their
    opportunities: Outman, Vargas, Busch, Pages, Pepiot, Stone, Grove and Miller
    all come to mind. A belated Merry Christmas to all, as well as Happy
    Hanukkah and a Happy New year. Pitchers and catchers report in under two

    • Can’t wait, Scoop. I’m actually excited to see some new kids strut their stuff. (Although I will sorely miss JT and still miss Kenley!)

      • Yes, the loss of JT is hard to swallow. I felt that he and Kershaw formed the heart and soul of the Dodgers. But the Dodgers offered him a great one-year contract; the Red Sox offered him two great years. I can’t fault the Dodgers for not wanting to give two years to a 38-year-old third baseman/DH. He will be missed, and I hope he has great success with the Red Sox. I was also hoping that Kenley might return for one season. Meanwhile, the Phillies signed Kimbrel for one year for $10 million!

  7. I can see the Dodgers taking no action on Bauer until ST reporting is due. If they can give the impression they might be willing to keep him, he might have some trade value.

    • Major League Baseball announced an independent arbitrator reduced Bauer’s original 324-game suspension to 194 and made the pitcher immediately eligible, thus giving the Dodgers 14 days to either release him or put him back on their roster.

      The deadline is a week from tomorrow. They can’t put it off as long as you suggest.

      • I should have been more clear. Add him to the roster, then release him later as spring training got closer.