Dodgers chairman Mark Walter blew away the other bidders when his Guggenheim Baseball Management submitted a billion-dollar bid to buy the team out of bankruptcy in March.
From his seat in the owners’ box at Dodger Stadium, where he is among the team’s most vociferous cheerleaders most nights, Walter continues to blow everyone away with cash. The latest strike: The most expensive trade in the history of Major League Baseball, which brought Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Dodgers on Saturday.
As Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com wrote today: “The Dodgers are trying to money-slap the opposition en route to the World Series.”
Asked if there’s a ceiling to how much the Dodgers can spend, Walter replied, smiling: “Somewhere, I suppose.”
Team president Stan Kasten said that the subject of baseball’s luxury tax — $178 million this and next season, $189 million beginning in 2014 — was not broached during the process. Even though they took on roughly $261 million in future payroll with one trade, the Dodgers’ current payroll is still well below the luxury tax.
“Mark and Magic (Johnson) don’t even ask me about that,” Kasten said.
Yet his comes at a time when the Red Sox and even the New York Yankees, baseball’s biggest spenders for the better part of the last decade, are in the process of dropping payroll like it’s hot.
As deep as those pockets are, Walter isn’t so naive as to think he can buy a championship.
“The truth is, the Cubs have a pretty good payroll,” said Walter, who calls Chicago home when he isn’t visiting his Los Angeles apartment. “It’s not like you write that check, you get the 162 wins and you go home. The Cubs have a pretty good payroll — that doesn’t always work.”
But the Guggenheim group is also keenly aware of its lucrative television deal looming on the horizon. Daily News columnist Tom Hoffarth wrote in March that Time Warner and Fox Sports are the likely participants in a bidding war that could push the price of the Dodgers’ TV rights close to $4 billion. It helps to have a winning team on TV.
That perspective is necessary when Walter says of the historically expensive trade, “I don’t think it’s a spending spree.”
“I think that the value of this franchise is representative of the price that was paid, and that other people, we believe, would have happily paid,” Walter said. “That doesn’t go down with one or two players’ salaries. We’re trying to build for the long term. We’d love to win now. We want to win tomorrow, the year after that and the decade after that.”