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Dodgers reduced to being jealous of the Marlins

December 6, 2011 |  1:46 pm

Frank3
Marlins envy. Ugh, it’s come to that.

Those Marlins are busy little bees. Dropping $106 million on Jose Reyes, an additional $27 million on Heath Bell, and now reportedly they have a $200 million-plus offer out on Albert Pujols. All while still in on C.J. Wilson.

They’re moving into a new downtown stadium in Miami and intent on making a splash. The kind that empties the pool.

And it could have been the Dodgers.

If Frank McCourt had not dragged the team through bankruptcy, battled and delayed and filed addendums and new motions at almost every turn until finally agreeing to sell the team, it could have been the Dodgers cannonballing into the free-agent pool.

They could have had a new owner in place, presumably with the resources and will to rebuild the team and shake up the National League.

Instead, as a group the Dodgers have signed a plethora of mediocre, older, overpaid players to yet more back-loaded contracts.

The Dodgers’ payroll for next season is expected to be $10 million to $20 million less than in 2011, which is something of an artificial payroll since the Dodgers are taking their obsession with deferred contracts to new extremes.

The presumption is McCourt is lowering the payroll to make the team appear more attractive to a new owner, but the 20 or so groups considering whether to bid on the team aren’t stupid and can see his recent signings will add almost $30 million in the second year of their contracts in 2013. Plus, Matt Kemp’s salary jumps another $10 million. The Times’ Bill Shaikin estimates the Dodgers could easily top a $110 million payroll in 2013 — and that’s without figuring in salary for a starting first baseman or corner outfielders.

The more unsettling theory as to McCourt slashing the payroll for next season isn’t because he thinks it will bring in a heftier sales price but because he figures he could be paying out those salaries.

The way this painfully deliberate sales process is unfolding, it’s hard to imagine it will be completed by opening day, or even the end of April. It could drag out into June or even later. Meanwhile, McCourt is the guy still paying the bills, even if he is using the remnants of a $180-million loan from MLB.

So the Dodgers sign fill-ins, although unfortunately for two years, while the Marlins add splash and excitement. As Shaikin noted, there will be little in the free agency market next winter for a new owner to make a splash. Which would only leave a trade, and still scarier, emptying out the farm system yet again.

It looks like the Dodgers will have another average team next season, and the entire rotation will be under contract for 2013, too. This was the winter to undergo a serious roster upgrade, but the bankrupt Dodgers are left watching Prince Fielder walk past, and the Marlins make the splash.

ALSO:

Pricey free agents don't fit into plans, Dodgers' Ned Colletti says

In the L.A. sports viewing market, a clash of media titans

Dodgers sign Jerry Hairston Jr., work on deal with Aaron Harang

— Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. Credit: Kirby Lee / U.S. Presswire

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