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Dodgers opening day payroll is $177.4 million, and $182 million against the competitive balance tax

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MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers
Dodgers owner Mark Walter talks with team chairman Stan Kasten and manager Dave Roberts.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers have their lowest opening day payroll in six years, starting the 2018 season at $177.4 million, with a competitive balance tax payroll of roughly $182 million.

This year’s opening day payroll is down $50 million from 2017, a 22% decrease from last year. Just looking at the active roster plus those on the disabled list, the 2018 total is at $151.4 million compared to $188.9 million last year.

Dodgers opening day payrolls

Year Active DL Dead Total
Year Active DL Dead Total
2010 $77.9 $1.0 $14.5 $93.4
2011 $83.4 $13.4 $16.3 $113.1
2012 $78.3 $13.5 $22.2 $114.0
2013 $185.3 $40.5 $16.0 $241.8
2014 $172.5 $71.8 $25.5 $269.8
2015 $195.9 $24.7 $45.5 $266.0
2016 $150.5 $66.1 $19.3 $236.0
2017 $161.2 $27.7 $38.9 $227.8
2018 $137.2 $14.2 $26.0 $177.4
in millions

Usually these annual opening day posts are just about the actual payroll but with the Dodgers hellbent on getting under the $197 million threshold to avoid paying luxury tax penalties and resetting their 50% tax, I decided to also include the CBT number in this year’s annual snapshot.

Keep in mind that performance bonuses count toward the CBT so there needs to be some room for Kenta Maeda and his incentive-laden contract to earn some more, and Clayton Kershaw gets a $500,000 bonus if he finishes second or third in the Cy Young Award, and $1 million if he wins it.

The Dodgers from 2013-2017 averaged $248.3 million in opening day payroll, and during those five years paid just under $150 million in competitive balance taxes.

For competitive balance tax purposes it’s the average annual value of the contract that counts, not the actual amount paid. For instance Clayton Kershaw in 2018 will be paid $33 million in the fifth season of his seven-year, $215 million contract, but his CBT number is just over $30.7 million. Justin Turner gets $11 million in 2018 but his CBT number is $16 million, the average of his four-year, $64 million contract.

The opening day payroll includes everyone on the active roster and disabled list, plus any other guaranteed money or cash payouts sent out elsewhere. Yaisel Sierra for instance gets $3.5 million this season in the third season of his six-year, $30 million contract, but because he is not on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster he does not count toward the competitive balance tax payroll.

What does count against the CBT are the minor league salaries for players on the 40-man roster, like Rob Segedin, Brock Stewart, Alex Verdugo, et al. There is also just over $14 million that every major league team pays in benefits to its players that counts against the CBT.

Included in the actual payroll is the $5 million deferred from Howie Kendrick’s 2016 salary, as well as the $2.5 million buyout of Andre Ethier‘s 2018 club option, both of which were already accounted for in previous years’ competitive balance tax payrolls.

A few of the gaps were filled in with USA Today payroll numbers, and a couple assumptions were made on some minor league salaries (in italics below).

Dodgers 2018 opening day payroll

Pos Player 2018 salary CBT number
Pos Player 2018 salary CBT number
C Yasmani Grandal $7,900,000 $7,900,000
1B Cody Bellinger $585,000 $585,000
2B Kiké Hernandez $1,600,000 $1,600,000
3B Logan Forsythe $9,000,000 $9,000,000
SS Corey Seager $605,000 $605,000
LF Matt Kemp $21,500,000 $20,000,000
CF Chris Taylor $575,000 $575,000
RF Yasiel Puig $7,500,000 $6,000,000
C Austin Barnes $555,000 $555,000
2B Chase Utley $1,000,000 $1,000,000
LF Joc Pederson $2,600,000 $2,600,000
C Kyle Farmer $547,500 $547,500
SP Clayton Kershaw $33,000,000 $30,714,286
SP Alex Wood $6,000,000 $6,000,000
SP Kenta Maeda $3,000,000 $3,125,000
SP Rich Hill $16,000,000 $16,000,000
SP Hyun-jin Ryu $7,000,000 $6,000,000
CL Kenley Jansen $10,000,000 $16,000,000
RHP Pedro Baez $1,500,000 $1,500,000
LHP Scott Alexander $555,000 $555,000
LHP Tony CIngrani $2,300,000 $2,300,000
RHP Josh Fields $2,200,000 $2,200,000
RHP Ross Stripling $555,000 $555,000
RHP J.T. Chargois $550,000 $550,000
RHP Wilmer Font $550,000 $550,000
Total active $137,177,500 $137,016,786
Minors / on 40-man roster
LHP Adam Liberatore $247,400
OF Andrew Toles $270,000
OF Alex Verdugo $88,900
1/3/OF Rob Segedin $250,000
IF Tim Locastro $88,900
RHP Walker Buehler $88,900
RHP Brock Stewart $250,000
LHP Henry Owens $88,900
LHP Edward Paredes $88,900
RHP Dylan Baker $88,900
RHP Cory Mazzoni $88,900
RHP Dennis Santana $44,500
Total minors $1,684,200
Disabled list
DL Justin Turner $11,000,000 $16,000,000
DL Tom Koehler $2,000,000 $2,000,000
DL Yimi Garcia $630,000 $630,000
60DL Julio Urias $550,000 $550,000
Total DL $14,180,000 $19,180,000
Dead money / off 40-man roster
Yaisel Sierra $3,500,000
Erisbel Arruebarrena $5,000,000
Howie Kendrick $5,000,000
Andre Ethier $2,500,000
Cash to San Diego $3,500,000 $3,500,000
Cash to Atlanta $4,500,000 $4,500,000
Cash to White Sox $2,000,000 $2,000,000
Team benefit costs $14,044,600
Total dead money / other $26,000,000 $24,044,600
Totals $177,357,500 $181,925,586
estimates in italics