LOS ANGELES — It is official: The Los Angeles Dodgers are now the new Evil Empire.
The proud, tradition-laden franchise that couldn’t win to save its life for more than three decades — despite a plethora of minor-league talent — is now MLB’s big, bad bully.
If they want something, they go get it, at any cost.
That was always the rap about the hated New York Yankees. They were the poster children of the rich getting richer. But not anymore.
The Dodgers flex the biggest muscles in the game and throw around cash like it’s going out of style.
And Thursday night was Exhibit A.
The Dodgers let people know that they are willing to do anything to win another World Series, landing three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and All-Star shortstop Trea Turner in exchange for four prized minor leaguers: C Keibert Ruiz, RHP Josiah Gray, RHP Gerardo Carrillo and OF Donovan Casey. (The deal was officially announced just after the 4 p.m. ET Friday deadline passed.)
For sure, the Nationals got a haul.
But the Dodgers got the muscle they needed, honestly, to become the first team in the National League to repeat as World Series champions since the 1975-76 Cincinnati Reds.
Currently, they are chasing the San Francisco Giants for the top spot in the NL West, trailing by three games coming into Friday’s action. The San Diego Padres are a close third, just 2.5 games behind the Dodgers.
Even before landing these two studs for the pennant stretch, the Dodgers already had the highest payroll in the game at $290 million, almost $100 million more than the second-place Yankees.
The Dodgers number included $20 million dollars in buried money — minor leaguers with Major League contracts — about twice as much as any other franchise, and 10 times the amount of buried money the Yankees have on the books.
Clearly, these days, money is no object for the Dodgers.
L.A. broke the bank for 2020 NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer, making him the second highest-paid player in the game when they inked the right-hander to a three-year, $102-million deal. Bauer will earn $39 million this season.
But he may never pitch for the Dodgers again. Currently, he’s an administrative leave, pending the outcome of a sexual assault investigation.
Hence, the Dodgers were down a stud starter in the rotation. Scherzer’s 2021 salary is $35 million, but the Dodgers will only have to pay a third of that.
Again, after being criticized for years about being run like a small market team, the Dodgers have loosened those purse strings.
The Dodgers not only traded with the Boston Red Sox for Mookie Betts, but signed the All-Star rightfielder to an eye-popping $365-million contract. During the pandemic, no less.
It’s clear that the Dodgers aren’t trying to win in a fair fight. Yep, they will call cousins and friends to jump in.
For sure, they have been in a dogfight with the Giants and Padres. SF has won four of the last five meetings against the Dodgers. The Pods have beaten the Dodgers seven out of 10 this season.
Most thought the Dodgers — who won the World Series in 2020, for the first time since 1988 — were a lock to repeat with their star-studded roster.
Most of the offseason, people thought the Padres were a real threat when they picked up three frontline starters for their rotation, including Blake Snell and You Darvish.
Many in Dodgerland scoffed and still thought of the Padres as little brother to the South.
Then the Dodgers shocked MLB America with the Bauer signing.
Without question, the Dodgers responded to the Padres.
They did it again Thursday. The buzz earlier in the day was that the Padres were set to land Scherzer, that the players in the deal were all but agreed to. Then, like a bat out of hell, the Dodgers came in and wowed the Nationals with some of their prized prospects.
The Nationals just couldn’t resist a chance to start over and build for the future, as 2021 quickly turned to goo and they fell out of contention.
This used to be the Yankees. They could get anyone, at any time. If something didn’t workout, they’d throw more money onto bad money. Easily, they could cover up their mistakes.
Most franchises would be ruined, setback with a couple of bad financial moves.
The Dodgers are now those Yankees. Baseball fans should hate them now, too.
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