Andrew Friedman got $35 million to leave the Rays for the Dodgers … and he might be underpaid

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Everyone figured the Dodgers must have shelled out a ton of money to lure Andrew Friedman away from the Rays and now Buster Olney has the details: $35 million over five years.

That’s obviously a ton of money, but $7 million per season means almost nothing to a Dodgers team with a $240 million (and climbing) payroll.

Plus, in terms of what $35 million buys you on the field Friedman is getting–for example–$14 million less than Ricky Nolasco and $13 million less than Ubaldo Jimenez got as free agents last winter. He’s getting third-starter money, basically. Jason Vargas (four years, $32 million) or Scott Feldman (three years, $30 million) money.

I think there’s a strong argument to be made that general managers (or perhaps more accurately front offices, overall) can have a larger impact on a team’s long-term success than even elite players, let alone third starters. GMs are much tougher to evaluate than players and Friedman still has plenty to prove, but if you think a GM and/or president of baseball operations is truly great then $35 million in a bargain.

And my guess is we’re going to see GM salaries skyrocket soon as more high-revenue teams realize it’s one of the few remaining places to out-spend your low-revenue opponents now that draft and international spending is mostly regulated.