Yoenis Cespedes has been tied to a number of teams early this offseason, but much like the Yankees last week, it appears that the Dodgers are likely to be removed from that conversation. As Bill Shaikin wrote in the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers are required to start paying down their team debt and, most likely, wouldn’t have the financial flexibility to sign Cespedes to the type of deal that he is expected to command.
When a new ownership group takes hold of a major league team, they must comply with Major League Baseball’s rules on debt within five years. As this is the fifth year of the Guggenheim Baseball Management’s control of the team, the nearly billion dollars in payroll accrued over their first years must begin to be paid down. The team denies that this is the reason for the reduction in payroll, instead claiming “they spent heavily in the early days of Guggenheim ownership in order to be competitive as they rebuilt the organization’s player development program and infrastructure,” according to Shaikin. Now that the rebuild is finished, they can operate more efficiently, or so the thinking goes.
As for Cespedes, the Mets, Nationals, and Giants have emerged as the most likely landing spots, although the Nationals may have somewhat of a budget problem as well going into 2017. All of this is happening slower than it may have in another year, as the lack of a collective bargaining agreement is impeding the signing of major free agents.