When Trevor Bauer was reinstated by an independent arbitrator last month, it put the Dodgers on the hook for $22.5 million of his 2023 salary and put L.A. right up against the payroll threshold for the luxury tax. Everything are just estimates at this point — arbitration salaries haven’t been determined yet, nor have contract incentives — but it looks like it’s going to be very tight.
Or, at least, it was going to be very tight. Los Angeles traded for Miguel Rojas on Wednesday, which makes the financial outlook a little bit different. Rojas is only due to make $5 million in 2023, but when L.A. was already hugging the tax threshold, every dollar counts, and the Dodgers are, as of right now, at least a few million dollars over the line.
Los Angeles was going to have to get creative to make sure they stayed under the limit anyway, so this might not change much on that front. A trade of, for example, Blake Treinen would get them below the threshold with or without Rojas. But L.A. might want (or need) to add a player at the trade deadline, and the closer they are to the tax threshold, the harder it is to swing something like that.
Of course, the trade for Rojas could signal that the Dodgers have given up on the idea of getting under the tax and have other moves coming. It seems like, if they were going to make that decision, it would have come earlier in the offseason when there were still free agents available, but they didn’t have any control over the timing of the Bauer decision. Still, they’ve gone this far in the process, they’ll likely do everything they can to stay the course and get back under the tax threshold.
The addition of Rojas will certainly complicate things, but Andrew Friedman rarely gets caught by surprise. He has a plan, and we might eventually find out what it is.