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2014 Los Angeles Dodgers: $220 Million Reasons for a Championship Season… OR Bust!

March 22, 2013 – The Los Angeles Dodgers began the 2014 Major League Baseball season with a victory last night over their National League Western Division rivals, the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 3-1 win was led by $30 million a year, lefty ace, Clayton Kershaw, whose 7 Strikeouts in 6.2 innings performance limited the Arizona attack in front of a crowd of a little more than 38,000 fans at Sydney Cricket Ground, Australia. The Los Angeles offense was aided by a 4 th inning, 2 run Home Run by inexpensive substitute Outfielder, Scott Van Slyke, who also helped get the Dodgers offense going with a Double in the top of the 2 nd, which led to the team’s first run of the game.

The expectations are high for the Dodgers this season, and rightfully so. L.A. Lakers legend, Magic Johnson, leads an ownership group that has demonstrated they will spare no expense in providing General Manager Ned Colletti with the resources needed to put a winning club on the field. Manager, Don Mattingly, has the likes of exciting and sometimes volatile youngster, Yasiel Puig, in his lineup. Puig provided his skipper a promising 19 HR, .315 BA sampling in 2013. The Dodgers pitching staff is solid with Kershaw, the best pitcher in Baseball, at the top of the rotation. The bullpen is intriguing with stopper, Kenley Jensen being setup by former elite closers and current reclamation projects, Chris Perez and Brian Wilson.

However, the core of the current Dodgers roster is led by high priced players with names that were revered in Baseball circles a few years back and are looking for that elusive Championship ring. SP Zack Greinke, 1B Adrian Gonzalez and Outfielders Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford, along with Kershaw all have base salaries of at least $20 million a season and comprise 5 of the top 22 salaries in Baseball today. If you add in former Rookie of the Year and NL Batting Champion, SS Hanley Ramirez with his $15 million a year salary, it’s no surprise the Dodgers have a roster payroll that is currently $220 million dollars.

On the field, the Dodgers and their expensive squad are favorites to make a championship run. In the Major League Baseball business world the Dodgers may be facing financial disaster. Financing most of their $2 Billion buy of the Dodgers with debt and insurance funds from Guggenheim, the new Dodgers owners were counting on a stronger attendance base and a new television deal with Time Warner to help keep the business of the Los Angeles Dodgers, fluid. However, as reported in Forbes magazine back in June, “The Los Angeles Dodgers are not going to be bailed out by their next television deal.” In a nutshell, the Dodgers will be receiving $700 million less than they expected out of the Time Warner deal because of the high percentage of money they have to contribute to MLB and its revenue sharing pot. Although the gate was up from 2012, Forbes also reported the Dodgers will not be helped much, if at all by attendance revenue because tickets prices have decreased by 3.3 % this season.

There is no guarantee that winning the 2014 World Series will stabilize what appears to be a very shaky financial situation for the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, a championship would bring the Dodgers back to the top of the Baseball world and that could lead to financial opportunities and investments, especially in terms of advertising and merchandising dollars. If their high priced players falter because of injury or performance, the Los Angeles Dodgers could go bust on and off the field in 2014. The vicious financial cycle of possibly having to unload high salaried players for the 2015 season, thus putting a lesser product on the field, would make the Dodgers less relevant in the Baseball world and could render the storied franchise financially destitute.

YoungJames Kenny

Los Angeles Dodgers Correspondent