There have been rumblings from the Dodgers — first from president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, and then from CEO Stan Kasten — that L.A. might embark on somewhat of a youth movement in 2023. Los Angeles has consistently had one of the top farm systems in baseball along with a sustained record of excellence at the big-league level, and the thinking is they could let some of those young players get experience in the majors to set them up for the future, which would also allow them to get below the luxury tax in 2023 and reset the escalating penalties that come with being a repeat o-spender.
Los Angeles Times writer Dylan Hernandez was on AM570 last week making the case that now would be the wrong time to go with a youth movement.
“My only issue with this is when I look at Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, they’re in the best part of their careers probably within top 10 best players in MLB right now. They’re on the other side of 30. the number of years you have with them playing like they are is diminishing. Maybe two more years of them playing at this level? Maybe this is the year you kind of push in. My guess is that they will probably wait until July to make these determinations. But there is a risk you strike out then. So I say you go for it now.”
Hernandez makes a decent point that L.A. should go for it while Mookie and Freddie are in their primes. I suspect, though, that the Dodgers don’t necessarily agree with Dylan on the short duration of those primes, which could play into their thinking. By getting under the luxury tax in 2023, they would reset their penalties and hopefully identify a few MLB-ready talents to form the next wave of young stars, giving themselves more financial flexibility to supplement the team in free agency down the road if/when Freeman and Betts need more help.
It’s important to remember we’re not talking about a fire sale here. We’re talking about L.A. dropping down to, like, third or fourth in the league in payroll for a year. The Dodgers would be favorites in the NL West next year even if they did nothing else this offseason, and they won’t do nothing. They’re in a position to “go for it” and get below the luxury tax, if they so choose.
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