Trevor Bauer is headed to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the team is going to pay a hefty price to add the reigning Cy Young Award winner.
The official terms of Bauer’s deal is reportedly three years and $102 million, according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, but some creative accounting makes the reality a little different. Bauer’s deal reportedly contains two opt-outs, effectively making it a one-year deal with two player options.
Bauer’s 2021 salary will reportedly be a whopping $40 million, followed by a $45 million salary in 2022 and a $17 million salary in 2023. The first two marks are set to be the highest salary in MLB. The structure of the deal makes it likely this deal will end up being two years $85 million, unless Bauer has another elite season in 2021 or sustains a serious injury.
However the contract works out, Bauer will be raking in cash next year, to the point that he is currently positioned to out-earn an entire team next season barring a major change.
Trevor Bauer currently makes more than the Pirates
So, $40 million. That’s a lot of money. In fact, it’s more than the Pittsburgh Pirates are slated to pay every player on their 26-man roster.
Between Gregory Polanco’s guaranteed $11.6 million salary, the Pirates’ 10 arbitration salaries (which add up to $18.4 million) and 15 players making the MLB minimum ($570,500 a piece, adding up to around $8.6 million), the Pirates’ total salary for its 26-man salary currently sits at an MLB-low $38,562,500.
The team’s 26-man payroll on Cot’s Contracts is a bit higher at $40.5 million thanks to financial leftovers of other moves (e.g. Chris Archer’s contract buyout) and its 40-man competitive balance tax number is even higher, but the fact remains: if the Pittsburgh Pirates take the field as currently constructed, the 26 players on the active roster will be making less money than one right-hander on the Dodgers.
Bauer’s salary doesn’t just make the Pirates, who aren’t even trying to appear competitive this year, look small. It also makes the Dodgers look even more like baseball’s looming Death Star.
Dodgers have, by far, MLB’s biggest payroll
Here’s where the Dodgers’ 26-man payroll currently stands according to Cot’s Contracts: $242,689,000, blowing past the $210 million competitive balance tax threshold.
That’s not just the biggest payroll in MLB, it’s more than $50 million higher than the second-place New York Yankees. In fact, the distance between the Dodgers and Yankees is currently bigger than the one between the Yankees and 12th-placed Chicago Cubs, though those numbers could change as the offseason progresses.
Of course, those numbers are wild less because the Dodgers are entering uncharted payroll territory with and more because of how pretty much all of baseball’s biggest teams have started treating the competitive-balance tax as a de facto salary cap (exceeding the CBT threshold only results in a relatively small financial penalty, unlike the NBA and MLB).
The Dodgers hadn’t exceeded the threshold since the 2017 season, but before that their payrolls were going as high as $271 million on their opening day roster in 2015. Maybe signing Bauer means the Dodgers are ready to spend like they make more money than any other team (they do), but it’s safe to say that 2021 should be different.
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