New ownership marks new Dodgers era

Updated: March 28, 2012, 10:51 AM ET
By Buster Olney

For a reported $2 billion, Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten -- backed by Guggenheim Partners -- will run the Los Angeles Dodgers. And the changes will be almost immediate.

(The New York Times is reporting that the sale was for $2.15 billion, which factors in land around the stadium, including the parking lots.)

The team's payroll is at $90 million, or about what the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers are spending. If you think that an ownership group that just agreed to spend about 2.5 times more than has ever been spent for any baseball team is going to keep the Dodgers' payroll among the row houses of baseball, well, you might also think that Frank McCourt is beloved in Los Angeles. The Dodgers are moving up, again.

The investment return for this new ownership group will come largely through its television revenue, and the way the Dodgers can make the team more watchable is by building a winner -- the kind of winner that the O'Malleys fostered, as the Dodgers won championships in 1959 and '63 and '65 and '81 and '88, and also played in the World Series in '66 and '74 and '77 and '78. The Dodgers were in the playoffs constantly, led by recognizable stars, from Koufax to Drysdale to Steve Garvey.

Under the Guggenheim/Magic/Kasten group, there will never be an offseason in which the Dodgers' biggest acquisitions are No. 4 starters and utility men, as we saw this past offseason. This team has very little payroll obligation going forward, beyond Matt Kemp's new eight-year, $160 million deal, and the franchise has enormous room to grow, and money will be spent.