But at the very least for the Dodgers, there is a clubhouse full of players with new-found respect for, and level of commitment to, ownership. As Clayton Kershaw said: "If this ownership group has taught me anything, it's that you can't count us out of anything."
Which in part is why this is a risk worth taking for Dodgers ownership — especially when you can afford to pay $2 billion for the franchise, and are looking at a new local television rights deal that probably will run significantly higher than the $3 billion deals recently signed by the Angels and Rangers.
But what exactly do the Dodgers have in Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford — and how will they impact the roster going forward?
Gonzalez, 30, was the obvious star-power target. Even though his numbers fell amidst all the turmoil in Boston, between his usual production, plus defense and Mexican heritage, should be close in value to the $127 million remaining on his deal through 2018.
Beckett, 32, is a middle-of-the-rotation guy these days, throwing 90-92 mph fastballs and needing good command of his entire repertoire to succeed. He's owed $35 million for 2013-14, and although that's a big over-pay for a No. 3 starter, if his good year/bad year pattern holds for another season, he's due for a good one in 2013 — especially with the move from AL East to the NL West.
That leaves Crawford, 31, as the biggest long-term exposure risk. Truth is, the Dodgers took on one of the worst contracts in the game here, as Crawford is owed $102.5 million through 2017, and will be coming off Tommy John surgery and two lost seasons. But observers say he was beginning to regain the line drive/gap pop in his bat before the elbow gave out. So that offers hope the Dodgers will be getting more for their nine figures than another Juan Pierre.
There also is the nagging issue that Crawford and Andre Ethier will leave the lineup vulnerable to left-handed pitching for the next five years, as both left-handed-hitting corner outfielders have much-worse splits facing southpaws.
Talent evaluators say the Dodgers also gave up too much in pitching prospects Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster, given the enormous money they took on in salaries. That probably will prove to be a valid criticism.
But the money picture wasn't all that daunting before all the additions began — thanks, of course, to Frank McCourt's financial woes that had put a lid on the payroll.
Before the Red Sox's deal, the Dodgers' only contracts in place beyond 2014 were for Kemp (seven years, $148 million remaining), Ethier (five years, $85 million), and Cuban defector Yasiel Puig (seven years, $42 million). Of course, Kershaw will have to be next as far as a long-term mega-deal goes, as his two-year, $19 million deal expires after next season.
But Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton and Brandon League ($23 million combined) are free agents this winter, and deals for Ted Lilly, Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano and Juan Uribe ($33 million combined) expire after 2013.
Some of that money will have to be turned into a legit No. 2 starter behind Kershaw and in front of Beckett and Billingsley for the Dodgers to be considered serious World Series contenders. But luring free agents to Chavez Ravine should prove to be an easier task going forward.
"It's exciting," Kershaw said. "There are no more excuses. We have a great team. But we have to go do it now."
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