By Ronald Blum
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — The Los Angeles Dodgers are on track to become only the second major league team with a $200 million payroll and could end the New York Yankees’ streak of 14 years as baseball’s biggest spender.
The Dodgers are at $214.8 million for 21 signed players next season, according to a study of their contracts by The Associated Press. That follows last weekend’s additions of free agent pitcher Zack Greinke for a $147 million, six-year contract and South Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin for a $36 million, six-year deal.
“Creating a lot of buzz, that’s for sure,” Greinke said. “And you do wonder when things are going to stop.”
Crediting the $3.9 million Boston is paying Los Angeles next year as part of last August’s trade and not counting the portions of signing bonuses for players obtained from the Red Sox, the Dodgers’ 2013 payroll currently is at $207.9 million.
The Yankees have led each year since the Baltimore Orioles edged them by $200,000 in 1998, and New York has been at $200 million-plus every season since 2005. The record opening-day payroll of $209.1 million was set by the Yankees in 2008.
“I don’t that there’s anybody that can keep up with what the Dodgers are doing,” Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers said.
Los Angeles, almost certain to pay the luxury tax next year, has joined the high rollers since the Dodgers were bought in May by Mark Walter’s group, which also includes Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten.
“When we took over the team we said we were going to spend money and I guess you guys are seeing that we’re trying to do that,” Johnson said. “We’re not messing around. We’re not talking about it, we’re doing it.”
Under outgoing owner Frank McCourt, they started the season with the 12th-highest payroll at $94.7 million. They boosted spending with the midseason acquisitions of Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Brandon League.
The Dodgers finished 86-76 last season, eight games behind the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants in the NL West. The Dodgers haven’t reached the World Series since winning the title in 1988.
In addition to their players with agreements, the Dodgers have two players eligible for salary arbitration: catcher A.J. Ellis and right-hander Ronald Belisario.
“We’re here to win. I can’t tell you if we’re stopping or not,” Johnson said.
New York’s 2013 payroll is at $176 million for 13 players, including a $12 million deal for third baseman Kevin Youkilis that hasn’t been finalized. Four Yankees are eligible for arbitration: pitchers Phil Hughes, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan.
The deals for Greinke and Ryu contain numerous complicated provisions and perks.
Greinke gets a $12 million signing bonus, of which $7 million is payable by Dec. 31. He gets a $17 million salary next year, $24 million in 2014, $23 million in 2015, $24 million in 2016, $23 million in 2017 and $24 million in 2018.
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