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Dodgers 2021 opening day payroll is $237 million

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For competitive balance tax purposes, LA payroll is estimated at $256.9 million

Andrew Friedman on the Dodgers’ increase in payroll in 2021: “The moves and things we’ve done the last three years gave us a little more flexibility right now. We know there are some added costs associated with it, which is not ideal, and it is a cost. But we feel like with where we are and the team we have, the reward outweighs that.”
Photo credit: Jon SooHoo | LA Dodgers

The Dodgers open defense of their World Series championship with the highest payroll in Major League Baseball. The 2021 payroll, counting all salaries and bonuses paid this year, checks in at $237 million on opening day.

Trevor Bauer was the biggest addition of the offseason, signing a three-year, $102 million contract, adding the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner to a Dodgers rotation that in 2020 ranked second in the majors in ERA (3.29), eighth in FIP (4.11), and ninth in K-BB% (17 percent). Bauer’s contract included a $10 million signing bonus and a $28 million first-year salary, so for our purposes he counts as $38 million for 2021. Justin Turner also returned to Los Angeles on a two-year, $34 million contract, of which $2 million of his signing bonus is paid this year in addition to his $8 million salary, putting his 2021 payroll number at $10 million.

Dodgers opening day payrolls

Year Active IL Dead Total
Year Active IL 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 $266.1
2016 $150.5 $66.1 $19.3 $235.9
2017 $161.2 $27.7 $38.9 $227.8
2018 $137.2 $14.2 $26.0 $177.4
2019 $123.7 $51.7 $30.6 $206.0
2020 $174.4 $31.8 $15.4 $221.6
2021 $218.0 $11.0 $8.1 $237.0
in millions | click on each year for more details 2020 includes full-season payroll (with David Price)

This marks the Dodgers’ highest opening day payroll since tipping the financial scales at $266.1 million in 2015, and their fourth-highest ever, which includes the years well before I started tracking the team’s payroll in 2010.

Side note: holy cow, 2010? That’s a very long time.

For competitive balance tax purposes, with counts average annual value of multi-year contracts, the Dodgers payroll for 2021 is estimated at $256.9 million. That is past the third and highest threshold set by MLB, which will come with a penalty of $10.4 million plus 62.5 percent of anything above $250 million plus their first draft pick in 2022 dropping 10 spots.

“We run our payroll, looking at it every three, four, or five years, not at any one moment in time,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on February 11.

“The moves and things we’ve done the last three years gave us a little more flexibility right now,” Friedman added the next week, after re-signing third baseman Justin Turner. “We know there are some added costs associated with it, which is not ideal, and it is a cost. But we feel like with where we are and the team we have, the reward outweighs that.”

The Dodgers haven’t paid a competitive balance tax since 2017.

The 2021 payroll for the Dodgers is a 7-percent increase over what their 2020 number would have been in a normal year.

Counting full-season salaries last year for everyone, including David Price, who opted out of the 2020 season, plus deferred payment to Scott Kazmir and the non-40-man salary of pitcher Yaisel Sierra, the Dodgers’ opening day payroll last year would have been about $221.6 million. But with Price opting out, and salaries pro-rated to a 60-game season, the total for the Dodgers active roster and injured list on opening day 2020 was just over $79 million.

This year’s payroll includes Sierra, who gets $7.5 million in the final year of a six-year, $30 million contract, as well as the final $563,500 sent to Minnesota to complete last year’s trade of Kenta Maeda. It also includes the first season of Mookie Betts’ 12-year, $365 million contract. His salary for 2021 is $17.5 million, but $8 million of that is deferred, so this year Betts receives $9.5 million plus $5 million of his $65 million signing bonus, for a total of $14.5 million this year. By comparison, Betts’ competitive balance tax payroll is just over $25.55 million, the average annual value of his contract after factoring in deferrals.

The Dodgers’ $218 million in payroll on their opening day active roster is their highest ever, surpassing the previous high mark of $195.9 million in 2015. The nearly $11 million on the injured list is their lowest since 2010.

Dodgers 2021 opening day payroll

Pos Player 2021 salary Bonus paid in '21 Total paid
Pos Player 2021 salary Bonus paid in '21 Total paid
C Will Smith $590,500 $590,500
1B Max Muncy $7,500,000 $7,500,000
2B Gavin Lux $580,500 $580,500
3B Justin Turner $8,000,000 $2,000,000 $10,000,000
SS Corey Seager $13,750,000 $13,750,000
LF A.J. Pollock $15,000,000 $15,000,000
CF Cody Bellinger $16,100,000 $16,100,000
RF Mookie Betts $9,500,000 $5,000,000 $14,500,000
IF/OF Chris Taylor $7,800,000 $7,800,000
3B/1B Edwin Ríos $590,500 $590,500
C Austin Barnes $1,500,000 $300,000 $1,800,000
1B/OF Matt Beaty $590,500 $590,500
IF/OF Zach McKinstry $573,000 $573,000
SP Clayton Kershaw $23,333,333 $7,666,667 $31,000,000
SP Trevor Bauer $28,000,000 $10,000,000 $38,000,000
SP Walker Buehler $2,750,000 $1,000,000 $3,750,000
SP Julio Urías $3,600,000 $3,600,000
SP Dustin May $590,500 $590,500
CL Kenley Jansen $20,000,000 $20,000,000
RHP Blake Treinen $6,000,000 $1,000,000 $7,000,000
RHP Corey Knebel $5,250,000 $5,250,000
LHP Victor Gonzalez $580,500 $580,500
RHP Jimmy Nelson $1,250,000 $1,250,000
LHP David Price $16,000,000 $16,000,000
RHP Tony Gonsolin $580,500 $580,500
LHP Scott Alexander $1,000,000 $1,000,000
Total active roster $191,009,833 $26,966,667 $217,976,500
IL Joe Kelly $8,500,000 $8,500,000
IL Brusdar Graterol $590,500 $590,500
60IL Tommy Kahnle $750,000 $525,000 $1,275,000
60IL Caleb Ferguson $600,500 $600,500
Total injured list $10,441,000 $525,000 $10,966,000
Yaisel Sierra $7,500,000 $7,500,000
money to MIN (Maeda) $563,500 $563,500
Total dead money $8,063,500 $0 $8,063,500
Total Dodgers payroll $209,514,333 $27,491,667 $237,006,000
Includes only money paid in 2021 Thanks to USA Today for filling in the gaps for some of the players with 0-3 years of service time