They won a league-best 111 games in 2022 and are the favorites to win the World Series, but the Dodgers’ postseason road won’t be easy.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, owners of the second-highest payroll in all of baseball, entered the 2022 season with grand expectations. Like, World Series or bust.
There was good reason for it, too. After winning 106 games last season and advancing to the National League Championship Series, the Dodgers went out and signed Freddie Freeman away from the world-champion Braves and added All-Star pitcher Tyler Anderson.
Freeman joined an elite offense already led by Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, and Will Smith. Anderson quickly became an ace-level pitcher alongside Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin, and Clayton Kershaw.
Basically, the Dodgers assembled Major League Baseball’s version of a super-team.
Now, they enter the postseason to face the Padres after San Diego defeated the Mets in the Wild Card Series and seem fully equipped to make a deep October run and maybe deliver Dodger fans a second World Series title in three seasons.
2022 Los Angeles Dodgers Postseason Overview
NLDS Opponent: Padres
Season Series: 14-5
Current Payroll: $275,629,360 (No. 2 in MLB)
Luxury Tax Allocation: $283,244,118 ($230,000,000 threshold)
Dodgers’ Highest-paid Players by Average Annual Salary:
All salary figures via Spotrac.
- Trevor Bauer: $34,000,000
- David Price: $31,000,000
- Mookie Betts: $30,416,667
- Freddie Freeman: $27,000,000
- Trea Turner: $21,000,000
The Dodgers spent big to win now. But if that’s the headline, the subhead might include “but their two highest-paid players, Trevor Bauer and David Price, combined to pitch just 40.1 innings this season and Bauer probably should never play in a Major League game again.”
(Note that, technically, Bauer is suspended without pay, but he’s appealed that decision and the case is currently in arbitration. No word yet on whether the Dodgers will need to pay any of that $34,000,000.)
We’re here to talk about the here and now, however. And to Price’s credit, he was effective out of the bullpen when he’s been healthy. Betts and Freeman, the third- and fourth-highest-paid Dodgers, led the team in bWAR this year, so LA is getting its money’s worth out of them. Turner also had a great year, piling up 4.9 bWAR, 21 homers, and 100 RBI.
Really, when you win 111 games in a season, there aren’t going to be many holes. The lineup goes nine deep. The rotation goes five deep. The bullpen can be a question mark, but even that is a bit of a stretch. Craig Kimbrel has been mere “very good” instead of great, but behind him, Evan Phillips and Alex Vesia have both gotten the job done.
Dodgers Postseason Odds
- To win National League: +135
- To win World Series: +270
A team being at +135 to win the pennant before the Division Series even starts just feels like something that shouldn’t happen. Especially when there is another 100-win team expected to be waiting for you in the NLCS in the Atlanta Braves. But it just shows you how dominant the Dodgers have been and how strongly they are built to succeed in October. Anything can happen in a five-game series, particularly against a team with the star power that San Diego boasts, but if the season series is any indication, LA will be undaunted by the lineup the Pads will trot out.
Those odds jump to +270 to win the whole thing, as the Houston Astros are favored to come out of the American League after winning 106 games behind their usual cast of characters.
But even if it’s safer to take the field at this point, the Dodgers have a better shot at going all the way than any of the other 11 teams in the postseason.
2022-23 Dodgers Free Agents
- Trevor Bauer: $35,333,334 salary in 2022 (player option)
- David Price: $32,000,000
- Trea Turner: $21,000,000
- Clayton Kershaw: $17,300,000
- Justin Turner: $16,000,000 (team option)
Upcoming Arbitration-Eligible Dodgers
- Cody Bellinger: $17,000,000 salary in 2022
- Julio Urias: $8,000,000
- Walker Bueller: $7,250,000
- Dustin May: $730,000
- Will Smith: $730,000
If it turns out the Dodgers don’t have to pay Bauer a dime next year, that’s a huge load off of the payroll. As is Price’s likely retirement. That’s the good news for LA. The other side of it is that this was Smith’s final pre-arbitration year and the catcher will be able to command significantly more than the $730,000 he’s currently making. The Dodgers will also probably have to cough up a little more to keep Turner around. Spotrac estimates his market value at around $33 million, but he’s also going to enter his age-30 season in 2023. Meanwhile, Bellinger, Urias, and Bueller are all due for a significant pay bump. And that’s all before we even consider how a few strong playoff performances may increase some players’ values.
Not that it matters to the Dodgers — they’re already well over the luxury tax threshold and, as long as they’re winning, they don’t seem to care much.
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