We know the Dodgers will have a new owner at some point relatively soon, but perhaps not soon enough to help create a team this offseason. Tim Brown at Yahoo! Sports wonders whether McCourt is motivated enough to sign MVP candidate Matt Kemp to an extension beyond his final year before free agency:
The Dodgers have told Kemp they would love to extend his contract.
Kemp has told the Dodgers he would love to have his contract extended.
The rest is in limbo, out there between McCourt’s exit plan and the coming auction and the next owner’s strategy and the timing of it all, because Team Kemp seems reluctant to negotiate during the regular season. So there would appear to be a deadline, too, if a soft one.
I am strangely unworried about Kemp's future in Los Angeles. I understand that Kemp and agent Dave Stewart don't want the distraction of an in-season negotiation, but Brown's mention of a soft deadline seems right to me. I have to think if the new owner wants to extend Kemp he or she will find a way to get it done, whether it is during the season or just afterward. Money talks, and the only question is timing.
Back to 2012 for a moment, Gary Scott and Andrew Grant both took the time to construct Dodgers rosters under the constraint of a $120 million payroll (including dead money). Take time to read both very detailed Fan Posts.
The projected payroll right now is at roughly $110 million, and that's with many placeholders on the roster that likely won't be there by opening day, but replaced by more expensive replacements. I don't have a full roster plan, but I do have some thoughts on what I think will happen this winter:
- Hiroki Kuroda will re-sign with the Dodgers to a contract similar to the one he signed last year (one year, $12 million, with $4 million deferred); but if he doesn't, the Dodgers will use that $8-10 million to sign another veteran starting pitcher.
- The Dodgers will spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 million on a veteran relief pitcher.
- One of Jamey Carroll or Aaron Miles will be back, but not both.
- I think both James Loney and Andre Ethier will be tendered contracts and the Dodgers will try and ride a healthy Ethier and a reborn Jim Loney to an improved season.
- I believe the desire to add a bat is sincere, but it's hard to see where the money will come from. The Dodgers could non-tender Loney and sign Aramis Ramirez to a backloaded three-year deal for instance (which would also open up a spot for Jerry Sands, either at first base or left field), but even with shedding Loney's estimated $6 million that would bring the payroll into the $130 million range, maybe higher.
Which brings me to this passage from Brown:
A friend of McCourt’s told me this week he’s inclined to leave the Dodgers in a position to contend in 2012...The friend told me McCourt still hopes to "repair" his relationship with Dodgers fans, in part by helping put the team together again, and that to leave the Dodgers short now would weigh on McCourt’s conscience.
For 2012 at least, that's what Dodgers fans have to cling to. I'll believe it when I see it.