- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
(The New York Times is reporting that the sale was for $2.15 billion, which factors in land around the stadium, including the parking lots.)
The team's payroll is at $90 million, or about what the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers are spending. If you think that an ownership group that just agreed to spend about 2.5 times more than has ever been spent for any baseball team is going to keep the Dodgers' payroll among the row houses of baseball, well, you might also think that Frank McCourt is beloved in Los Angeles. The Dodgers are moving up, again.
The investment return for this new ownership group will come largely through its television revenue, and the way the Dodgers can make the team more watchable is by building a winner -- the kind of winner that the O'Malleys fostered, as the Dodgers won championships in 1959 and '63 and '65 and '81 and '88, and also played in the World Series in '66 and '74 and '77 and '78. The Dodgers were in the playoffs constantly, led by recognizable stars, from Koufax to Drysdale to Steve Garvey.
Under the Guggenheim/Magic/Kasten group, there will never be an offseason in which the Dodgers' biggest acquisitions are No. 4 starters and utility men, as we saw this past offseason. This team has very little payroll obligation going forward, beyond Matt Kemp's new eight-year, $160 million deal, and the franchise has enormous room to grow, and money will be spent.
As Johnson began this quest to buy the Dodgers, he could not have been more clear about what his vision for the franchise is built around: on-field success. He wants to win. He lamented the fact, last fall, that he wasn't in position to help the Dodgers pursue players during the 2011-12 offseason. His intent, he said, is to be ready for the next free-agency period. On the day that teams can talk to prospective free agents, he said -- at 12:01 a.m. -- his intent is to be recruiting.
The improvements will start even before Cole Hamels and Matt Cain might hit the market next fall, though. Presumably, the new ownership group will be approved sometime in the next six weeks, which means that during the summer, the Dodgers' new owners will be in position to cull through market opportunities that might present themselves -- a pricey, productive veteran who has become too expensive for his current team.
For years, the Dodgers were involved in the big-name market, as the New York Yankees always are, as the Boston Red Sox always are. The Dodgers were the crown jewel of the West Coast. Now they can be again.
In recent years, players like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia, Matt Holliday, Albert Pujols and others passed through the market without the Dodgers making a serious offer. That change will be immediate.
Frank McCourt is going to retain some elements in this deal, as Bill Shaikin writes.
Dodgers GM Ned Colletti exchanged e-mails with Stan Kasten on Tuesday.
From ESPN Stats & Information:
• Last week, Forbes Magazine released its valuations for MLB franchises, and the Dodgers were valued at $1.4 billion, the second-highest valuation in the league behind the Yankees ($1.85 billion).
• Attendance was down significantly for the Dodgers in 2011, with an average attendance nearly 8,000 fewer per game than in 2010 and more than 10,000 fewer than in 2009.
• The two folks who could see immediate ripple effects from the Dodgers deal: Cole Hamels and Matt Cain, who are in line to be eligible for free agency this fall. The contract talks with both players are in a holding pattern, and now their situation couldn't be more clearly defined for their current teams: There is a new and aggressive Dodgers ownership on the horizon, and if the Philadelphia Phillies don't pay Hamels market value, the Dodgers could; if the San Francisco Giants don't pay Cain market value, the Dodgers could.
• Lorenzo Cain is arguably the Cactus League MVP after dominating this spring. Right after the Kansas City Royals traded Melky Cabrera to the Giants, Kansas City GM Dayton Moore called Cain and essentially told him that the Royals' center field job belonged to him. And Cain has arrived in camp and thrived, so far. "He has continued to make very good adjustments to the breaking stuff," senior advisor Mike Arbuckle wrote in an e-mail, in response to a question. "He has better strike zone discipline and rarely misses a fastball he should hit. His defense in CF has been plus, as it has always been. He looks very confident and acts like he belongs in the majors."
• Casey Kelly, who was the centerpiece of the Padres-Boston Adrian Gonzalez trade, had a good outing on Tuesday, walking just one in 5 2/3 innings. "This spring has been a nice step forward," Padres GM Josh Byrnes wrote in an e-mail response. "He has moved to the first-base side of the rubber, sped up his delivery and lengthened his arm stroke. His stuff has seemed more explosive. [Pitching coach] Darren Balsley and our staff have done a nice job with him."
• The Twins' camp is finishing well.
Moves, deals and decisions
2. Simply put, when the Cleveland Indians watched Vladimir Guerrero work out the other day, it was due diligence. He doesn't fit their roster, because they already have another full-time DH, Travis Hafner, and to carry two would be just about unworkable. Here's more from Terry Pluto on Vlad/Cleveland.
The fight for jobs
1. Steve Lombardozzi is in position to get some playing time this year.
2. The Phillies still have an unfinished roster puzzle, writes Jim Salisbury.
3. Brandon Inge's fight to make the Tigers' roster is coming down to the final days.
4. Tyler Greene's time has arrived.
Dings and dents
2. The Phillies' backup second baseman got nicked up.
5. A couple of Marlins outfielders are close to coming back.
2. Bruce Bochy hopes his players aren't assuming they can turn on a switch.
• Now is the time for a new Padres' owner with money and desire to step up, writes Tim Sullivan.
• Phil Sheridan addresses the issue of lying about injuries.
• A Twin honors his late sister with a tattoo.
• A Cardinals prospect was busted.
• The family of the motorcyclist injured by Matt Bush intends to sue.
• A Honus Wagner card could fetch $1.5 million.
And today will be better than yesterday.
Buster Olney writes that with the Dodgers' new ownership group, significant change for the franchise could come immediately. No longer will the Dodgers have a sagging payroll and fail to be impact players in the free-agent market.