The Dodgers may have the best record in baseball, but we found out on Monday there’s one area in which they come in second to the Mets: 2022 payroll.
As J.P. Hoornstra reports in the Orange County Register, Trevor Bauer’s suspension has dropped the Dodgers below the Mets in both actual payroll and competitive balance tax payroll, also dropping L.A. just barely below the top luxury tax threshold.
The Associated Press reported that the Dodgers are on pace to run MLB’s second-highest payroll this season by virtue of Trevor Bauer’s suspension under the league’s domestic violence policy.
The suspension effectively reduced Bauer’s 2022 salary from $32 million to $3.8 million, the amount he was owed at the time of the suspension, according to the report. The Mets entered September with a team payroll of $273.9 million, followed by the Dodgers at $267.2 million and the New York Yankees at $254.4 million.
MLB calculates team payroll differently for the purpose of levying luxury taxes. The Dodgers’ reported luxury-tax payroll figure of $289.96 million will fall just under the $290 million mark, the highest tax threshold which carries an 80 percent overage penalty for first-time offenders.
The Dodgers come in just $40,000 below the top tax threshold, which carries a 90 percent overage tax. That means Bauer suspension ends up saving Los Angeles over $53.5 million this year, which will almost certainly be among the arguments Bauer makes as he appeals the suspension.
The luxury tax numbers are different from the actual salary numbers for two reasons. First, luxury tax is calculated based on the average annual value of a player’s entire contract, rather than the actual amount the player is paid that year. As an easy example, Corey Seager will be paid $35.5 million by the Rangers next year, but the AAV on his entire contract is $32.5 million, so the first number would be used to calculate actual payroll, but the second would be used for purposes of the luxury tax.
The second difference is that the luxury tax includes almost $18 million per team to cover benefits and the newly created pre-arbitration bonus pool.
So with the Dodgers’ actual payroll coming in about $22.8 million below their luxury tax number, we can safely surmise that the difference between their actual salaries and their AAVs is nearly $5 million.
The Dodgers led the league in salaries the last two years, but Steve Cohen has accomplished his first goal as Mets owner of outspending L.A.
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