The Los Angeles Dodgers are the reigning World Series championships, but they're not resting on their laurels. Quite the opposite, in fact – they're spending big money this offseason in hopes of a repeat. The latest move: signing last year's National League Cy Young winner to a massive contract.
The Dodgers agreed to a three-year, $102 million deal with Trevor Bauer. He'll make $40 million in 2021, making him the highest-paid player in the major leagues this upcoming season. The deal, which includes opt-outs after the first two seasons, will pay Bauer $45 million in 2022.
In an unusual move, Bauer announced the deal on his YouTube channel. Then again, Bauer has always been a bit of an oddball, so it's not totally out of character.
Bauer has spent most of his career with the Cleveland Indians. He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 2019 and finished last season with a 5-4 record and a 1.73 ERA. Despite pitching just 73 innings during the pandemic-shortened season, Bauer still recorded 100 strikeouts against only 17 walks.
Adding a strong pitcher like Bauer should improve the Dodgers, who are bringing back several key pieces, including World Series MVP Corey Seager. However, the team will pay an exorbitant amount to roster him. The deal sends the Dodgers over the Competitive Balance Tax threshold, meaning they'll owe taxes on every dollar over $210 million that they spend on salary.
The Dodgers currently have $240 million in salary on the books. The team will pay 20 percent tax on the first $20 million in overages, and 32 percent on the next $20 million.
That means that right now, the Dodgers owe $7.2 million in taxes. That's already a solid chunk of change, but think of it from a player perspective. The median MLB salary is $1.5 million; in essence, the Dodgers are paying the equivalent of nearly five additional players just to sign Bauer.
Of course, winning another World Series would help offset those costs, especially if more fans are in attendance this season. The Dodgers are hoping their big bet pays off.