Report: Dodgers taxed $32M, MLB payrolls record $4.5B

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Los Angeles Angels
Getty Images
1 Comment

NEW YORK – The Los Angeles Dodgers were hit with a $32 million luxury tax for the second straight season, among six teams paying a penalty as baseball payrolls rebounded after the lockout to a record $4.56 billion.

The New York Mets set a luxury tax payroll record at $299.8 million, topping the $297.9 million of the 2015 Dodgers, and will pay tax for the first time since the penalty started in 2003, according to final figures compiled by Major League Baseball and obtained by The Associated Press.

NL champion Philadelphia, the New York Yankees, San Diego and Boston also exceeded the $230 million tax threshold. The total tax of $78 million topped the previous high of $74 million in 2016, when six teams also paid.

The Dodgers, assessed at a higher rate because they exceeded the threshold for the second straight year, owe $32.4 million on a luxury tax payroll of $293.3 million. That was down slightly from their $32.6 million penalty for 2021.

Trevor Bauer was counted at $4,109,890 for the luxury tax in 2022 and $3,868,131 for regular payroll. Any money saved from the clawback in 2023 during Bauer’s suspension under the domestic violence policy will be reflected in the Dodgers’ 2023 payroll figures.

With pitcher Max Scherzer leading the big leagues at a $43.3 million salary, the Mets shot up to second in payroll and owe $30.8 million. Under owner Steven Cohen, who bought the team before the 2021 season, New York has boosted its projected tax payroll for 2023 to nearly $400 million. The Mets and the Dodgers both pay the so-called new “Cohen Tax,” a new fourth threshold starting at $290 million agreed to by negotiators for teams and players last March

The Yankees owe $9.7 million, the Phillies $2.9 million, the Padres $1.5 million and the Red Sox $1.2 million after finishing last in the AL East. San Diego also exceeded the initial threshold for the second year in a row.

Tax money is due to MLB by Friday.

Total spending, based on regular payrolls, rose 12.6% from $4.05 billion in 2021, the lowest in a fully completed season since $3.9 billion in 2015. The previous high of just under $4.25 billion was set in 2017, also the first year of a collective bargaining agreement.

The first $3.5 million of tax money is used to fund player benefits and 50% of the remainder will be used to fund player Individual Retirement Accounts. The other 50% of the remainder goes to a supplemental commissioner’s discretionary fund intended to be given to teams receiving revenue-sharing money that have grown their non-media local revenue over several years.

Tax payrolls are caluculated by average annual values, including earned bonuses, for players on 40-man rosters along with just over $16 million per team for benefits and $1.67 million for each club’s share of the new $50 million pool for pre-arbitration players.

Last season’s four tax thresholds were $230 million, $250 million, $270 million and $290 million. First-time offenders pay 20% on the amount above the first threshold, 32% above the second, 62.5% above the third and 80% above the fourth. As repeat offenders, the Dodgers and Padres pay 30% above the first, 42% above the second, 75% above the third and 90% above the fourth.

The Yankees have been taxed nearly $358 million since the penalties began, followed by the Dodgers at $215 million.

Among regular payrolls, the Mets led at $274.9 million, followed by the Dodgers at $270.6 million, the Yankees at $254.7 million and Philadelphia at $238.5 million. Six teams topped $200 million, up from two in 2021 and the previous high of five in 2019.

World Series champion Houston was ninth at $187.5 million. Nine teams among the top 12 payrolls reached the playoffs, all but Boston, the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels. Three teams from the 10 lowest spenders reached the postseason: Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Seattle, and none of them reached the League Championship Series.

Oakland’s $49.1 million was the lowest total of any team in a full season since Houston’s $29.3 million in 2013.

Regular payrolls are based on 2022 salaries, earned bonuses and prorated shares of signing bonuses for 40-man rosters.

Brown hired as general manager of Houston Astros

astros general manager
Logan Riely/Getty Images
1 Comment

HOUSTON — In joining the World Series champion Houston Astros, new general manager Dana Brown’s goal is to keep the team at the top of the league.

“I’m coming to a winning team and a big part of what I want to do is sustain the winning long term,” he said. “We want to continue to build, continue to sign good players, continue to develop players and continue the winning success.”

Brown was hired by the Astros on Thursday, replacing James Click, who was not given a new contract and parted ways with the Astros just days after they won the World Series.

Brown spent the last four seasons as the vice president of scouting for the Atlanta Braves.

“He is very analytic savvy,” Astros’ owner Jim Crane said. “He’s a great talent evaluator based upon what we’ve seen at the Braves, seasoned at player acquisitions, seasoned at player development and retention. They were often able to extend some of their player contracts… he’s got great people skills, excellent communicator and, last but not least, he’s a baseball player and knows baseball in and out and we were very impressed with that.”

The 55-year-old Brown becomes the only Black general manager in the majors and joins manager Dusty Baker to form just the second pairing of a Black manager and general manager in MLB history. The first was general manager Ken Williams and manager Jerry Manuel with the White Sox.

Brown said he interviewed for GM jobs with the Mets and Mariners in the past and that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told him to stay positive and that his time to be a general manager would come.

“It’s pretty special,” he said. “We understand that there are a lot of qualified African Americans in the game that know baseball and that could be a big part of an organization and leading organization in baseball operations. So at the end of the day, I think it’s good for our sport to have diversity and I’m really excited for this opportunity.”

Crane was asked about having the league’s only Black general manager.

“Certainly, we are very focused on diversity with the Astros,” he said. “It’s a plus, but the guy’s extremely qualified and he’ll do a great job. It’s nice to see a man like Dana get the job and he earned the job. He’s got the qualifications. He’s ready to go.”

Brown doesn’t have a lot of connections to the Astros, but does have some ties. He played baseball at Seton Hall with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who spent his entire career with the Astros and serves as special assistant to the general manager. He played against fellow Hall of Famer and special assistant to the general manager Jeff Bagwell in the Cape Cod league during a short minor league career.

Brown said he spoke to both of them before taking the job and also chatted with Baker, whom he’s know for some time.

“Dusty is old school, he cuts it straight and I like it,” Brown said. “And so that means I can cut it straight with him.”

Brown worked for the Blue Jays from 2010-18 as a special assistant to the general manager. From 2001-09 he worked as director of scouting for the Nationals/Expos. He began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he spent eight years as their area scouting supervisor and East coast cross checker.

Click had served as Houston’s general manager since joining the team before the 2020 season from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Brown, who has been part of drafting a number of big-name players like Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and last season’s National League rookie of the year Michael Harris, is ready to show Crane that bringing him to Houston was the right choice.

“Baseball is all I know, it’s my entire life,” he said. “So I want to empty myself into this city, the Astro fans and let Jim Crane know that he made a special pick.”