Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is eligible for salary arbitration this off-season. (Lawrence K. Ho / MCT )
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Dodgers are expecting to exceed the luxury-tax threshold again, team President Stan Kasten said Wednesday.
This should come as a surprise to no one.
The luxury-tax threshold for 2014 will be $189 million. The Dodgers had a payroll of more than $230 million this year. They already have more than $160 million in salary commitments to their 12 players under contract -- that doesn’t include Clayton Kershaw or any of the players who are eligible for salary arbitration or are under club control.
As a team that also exceeded the luxury-tax threshold this year, the Dodgers will pay a 30% tax on the difference between their final payroll and the $189-million limit.
Kasten described the Dodgers as a franchise in transition.
Their new ownership group committed to building a contender as quickly as possible, which resulted in taking on sizable contracts in trades and free agency. But Kasten said he wants the Dodgers to become the type of club that develops its own players. One results of that would be a lower payroll.
“I think phase one was having to put the best team that we could on the field right away,” Kasten said. “I think we did the things we needed to on the field to achieve that. Phase two, building the long-term plan, is getting young, adding prospects, things like that. We’re transitioning into phase two.”
That doesn’t mean the Dodgers won’t spend money this winter.
“I can’t tell you that we won’t consider large deals or large signings,” Kasten said. “I guess that’s possible, but that’s not our emphasis going forward.”
Executives of rival teams are expecting them to land Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who could cost more than $100 million between his contract and posting fee.
If the Dodgers have to spend to contend, they will, Kasten said.
“I think we will always be focused on building the best team we can,” he said. “Other considerations will be secondary.”
Kasten said he assumes that the Dodgers will one day be a franchise that can field a major-league team that will be under the luxury-tax threshold, but he doesn’t know when that will be.
“It takes a period of time,” Kasten said. “I suspect a day will come when we’re below that, but we don’t have a year or target number because our decisions are based on what kind of team we can put together, first and foremost. I think over time we will be a team that builds from within.”