Following what has been a tug-o-war between the Dodgers and Mets and the occasional teasing by Trevor Bauer, the reigning NL CY Young has made his decision. Instead of signing with the Mets, who reportedly offered him more money, it’s been reported that Bauer is coming home to Los Angeles after agreeing to a 3-year deal worth $102 million.
Bauer deal with Dodgers, per @Feinsand: $102M for three years, with opt outs after first and second year. Salaries: $40M in first year, $45M in second.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 5, 2021
With Los Angeles slated to owe Bauer a whopping $40 million this season and $45 million the following season, where does that leave Justin Turner? After the signing, the Dodgers’ projected payroll is sitting just over $239 million is significantly over the luxury tax threshold which, barring any changes, is $210 million. That leaves Los Angeles $29 million over the threshold and projected to pay $10 million in taxes.
As of right now, it’s unknown whether Andrew Friedman intends to shed payroll to get back under the luxury tax or not, but by offering Bauer that much, it seems like he’s prepared to take the financial hit. The more important question is, what happens with Justin Turner? The Dodgers could still re-sign him and add to an already inflated payroll, but Los Angeles would be more inclined to move some contracts to be able bring back the SoCal native.
One obvious way they could do that is by trading away David Price and the $16 million owed to him this year. Theoretically the Dodgers could offer teams a package of prospects to take on all of Price’s $16 million. The inclusion of Bauer in the rotation along with Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urías, as well as Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin, who are fighting for a rotation spot, Price may be the odd man out. While that would still leave Los Angeles $13 million shy over getting under the threshold, it would allow for more wiggle room to bring back Turner.
Moving Price, if the Dodgers decide to do so, could also be the beginning of several other moves to free up money. However, if the Dodgers to stand pat, they have internal options who could fill in at third base and leave them with Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Trevor Bauer, Julio Urías, and David Price in arguably the best rotation in baseball.