Last week the Dodgers managed to avoid becoming this century’s Buffalo Bills, earning their first World Series title since 1988. Los Angeles finally broke-through to take home a World Series championship after making it to the Fall Classic for the third time in four years.
The Dodgers are everything that’s right with baseball, and it’s great that their success is paying-off. The last thing this sport needs is more teams trying to cheap-their-way to a World Championship, and as much fun as the Rays roster is, it’s not beneficial for other teams to emulate their low-payroll roster.
While it is undoubtedly difficult to assemble a roster cheaply, the Dodgers did not simply buy their roster; they drafted well, traded well, and locked-up franchise players who fans deserve to watch year-in-and-year-out.
Despite the Dodgers having the highest payroll in baseball, their core has been put together through shrewd drafting (despite regularly picking in the bottom-quarter of the draft), good international free agent signings, and shred trading, where they can utilize their budget as an asset.
Taking a look at their roster, NLCS and World Series MVP Corey Seager was drafted by Los Angeles in 2012, Cody Bellinger and Will Smith were drafted by LA in 2013, and Joc Pederson was drafted by them in 2010.
Max Muncy was released by the Athletics, with any team able to sign him, yet it was the Dodgers who decided he was worth a flyer, and then a contract extension.
On the pitching side, LA drafted Walker Buehler in 2015, Dustin May in 2016, and of course, Clayton Kershaw in 2006. They managed to find Julio Urias and Kenley Jansen on the international market, something all 30 teams could have done, but failed to do.
The Dodgers have also benefited from being able to take-on other teams’ salary commitments, extracting immense value from teams that simply wanted to take money off the books. LA has executed some stellar trades, acquiring talents such as Enrique Hernandez, and most recently, Mookie Betts.
Many other teams could have put together a package for Mookie Betts (especially looking at what Boston received in return), yet it was the Dodgers who went out and got one of the best players in baseball ---- and then subsequently inked him to be a Dodger for a long time. It shoed a commitment to Betts, a commitment to the fanbase, and a commitment to winning.
The Dodgers show commitment to their players, to their fans, and to their investors, and in 2020, this paid off with a World Championship. The team’s value, like all other team values, continues to increase, while the undoubtedly have showed an unwavering commitment to winning every year.
The rest of the league would do well to emulate LA. For anyone who thinks their team cannot afford to do so, here are the team valuation per Forbes. If that’s not enough data to convince fans that teams can spend more, but they choose not to, here’s Forbes revenue and operating income per team.
Unless teams open their books, it is reasonable to assume they are profitable and valuable, especially considering what they sell for when a team is put on the market, otherwise there would not be a line of investors ready to buy a team when one comes up for sale.