- Mark Saxon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said the perception that the team is out of control with its spending isn't accurate.
The Dodgers have committed more than $600 million the past six months on players, including about $208 million to sign pitchers Zack Greinke and Ryu Hyun-Jin to long-term contracts earlier this week. Colletti said the Dodgers are never "going to be reckless with what we do."
Including the $8 million they still owe Manny Ramirez and the roughly $9 million in payroll luxury tax they figure to be on the hook for, the Dodgers will have a payroll exceeding $230 million in 2013, easily a major league record.
The excess, Colletti argued, is a result of artificially low payrolls in the final seasons under Frank McCourt, the previous owner.
"Our payroll a year ago was $90 [million]," Colletti said in an interview on ESPNLA 710. "We're up over $200 [million] now. If you added it all up, it might be up over 300 [million] over two years. Had we been at 150 last year and 150 this year, nobody would be saying a word, right?
"If we were at $180 [million] last year, which is probably more conducive to our market size and how many people we draw, and we were at $210 [million] or $215 million this year, are people going to say, 'My goodness?' No. What has jostled the whole situation is we were coming from so far below the $100 million mark that it's startling to see all the changes, but that's the mindset of our owners."
Colletti said the team should have enough money left over to keep homegrown pitching star Clayton Kershaw, who will be a free agent after the 2014 season. Colletti hopes to sit down with Kershaw's agent, who also represents Greinke, shortly after New Year's Day.
Kershaw would hit free agency at age 26, three years before Greinke did. He won the 2011 Cy Young Award and finished second in the voting this season, plus he is left-handed, which adds to his value. There has been talk that Kershaw could be looking at a record deal for a pitcher that would exceed $200 million.
"I'm not worried about us being able to afford Clayton Kershaw. As long as the deal makes sense for us and is a baseball deal and it makes sense to him and his agents, then we'll figure something out," Colletti said.