Sweet Schadenfraude

The LA Dodgers are off to a 16-24 start this season, good for fourth place in the NL West Division, and are 8.5 games behind the leading Arizona Diamondbacks. This is not at all what Dodger fans were expecting, as there were high hopes for the team to make another World Series appearance this year after losing to the Houston Astros in seven games last fall. As discussed in an earlier post, I fully expected the Dodgers to make yet another playoff appearance this year.

I’d be lying if I said I felt sorry for the Chavez Ravine faithful, since the Dodgers routed the Cubs 3-1 in the 2017 National League Championship Series. I, like other Cubs fans, am also grateful the Cubs did not lose the 2016 World Series and then get off to a poor start the following year.

While the Cubs had their struggles in 2017, there were no major injuries to key players and the team was able to eventually right the ship and win a second straight NL Central Division title on the way to their third straight League Championship Series appearance.

As things currently stand, it appears the Dodgers will have difficulty digging out of the hole since there have been a number of injuries to star players like INF Corey Seager, INF Justin Turner and SP Clayton Kershaw as well as several other LA pitchers. The team’s recent performance is also not helping the cause, as the 14-27 Cincinnati Reds completed a road sweep on Sunday in a 5-3 victory. In addition, the Dodgers are just 3-7 in their last ten games.

One possible solution to fill the gaping hole at shortstop left by the Corey Seager injury would be a trade for star INF Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles, who is reportedly on the market as the Orioles are currently 13-28, sitting in last place in the AL East. On the surface, this seems to be a good fit given that LA expects to only need a replacement at shortstop for the remainder of the season, as Seager is expected back next year after his Tommy John surgery recovery, and Machado will hit free agency next year. However, this is complicated by the Dodgers’ financial and luxury tax issues.

As you may be aware, in 2016, the Dodgers were ordered by MLB to reduce payroll from around US$300 million in 2015 to around US$200 million in 2018. The team has also exceeded the luxury tax threshold for four straight years and is expected to do so again in 2018. While in past seasons exceeding this threshold merely entailed a financial hit to the club, new rules for the 2018 season going forward mean that franchises exceeding the threshold by over US$40 million will have a lower draft position. This is obviously bad news for a high payroll franchise like the Dodgers that needs to develop new talent in order to balance out its spending and to use as trade chips. Therefore, the Dodgers may be reluctant to pull the trigger on a Machado trade due to their financial position. This  situation also prevented the team from signing free agents like Ps Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta as well as bidding in the Miami Marlins fire sale for OFs Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich during the offseason. If the Dodgers fail to trade for Machado, he may end up going to a rival, such as the Chicago Cubs, who could use an upgrade over their current starting shortstop Addison Russell. Nothing warms the cockles of my heart quite like a team trying to buy its way to the top and getting bitten in the ass by its free-spending ways.

The Dodgers will hit the road to face another last-place team, the 14-26 Miami Marlins, for a three-game series starting with a day game at 12:10 PM ET on Tuesday (Tickets – SeatGeek). Go Marlins!

Image: Miune / Shutterstock.com