While there was talk last month about the Dodgers potentially being a player for Albert Pujols or Prince Fiedler this winter, it’s clear that’s not happening.
Sources told FOXSports.com that the Dodgers will enter 2012 with a payroll “well under” $100 million. The team opened 2011 with a $104.1 million payroll.
The moves the Dodgers have made to date support that assessment. The two-year deal given to Mark Ellis is structured so that he’ll receive $2.5 million next year and $5.25 million in 2013. Matt Kemp, who could have commanded as much as $16 million-$17 million in arbitration, will earn just $10 million next year as part of his eight-year, $160 million contract.
The FOXSports report goes on to state that the Dodgers have left enough flexibility in their budget to bring back both Andre Ethier and James Loney for what will be their final years of arbitration eligibility. The opportunity would be there for them to get both better and cheaper at first base, but Loney apparently was saved by his late-season surge.
As is, the Dodgers project to have just two standout regulars in Kemp and Ethier. Their lineup will probably look something like: SS Dee Gordon, 2B Ellis, CF Kemp, RF Ethier, LF Juan Rivera, 1B Loney, 3B Juan Uribe, C A.J. Ellis.
If this comes to pass as FOXSports expects, it will be the first time since 2006 that the Dodgers will open with a sub-$100 million payroll.
The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.
Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.
The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.
After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.
Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:
The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.
The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.