In 2012, the Guggenheim Group, led by former Los Angeles Lakers guard Earvin “Magic” Johnson, bought the Los Angeles Dodgers for $2 billion, which is the highest price paid for a sports franchise.
At the time of the purchase, the Guggenheim Group promised Dodgers fans that they would do whatever it takes to win a World Series. It was also a welcome change from the previous team owners, Frank and Jamie McCourt, who refused to spend on building a competitive franchise in their final years in charge.
Magic Johnson and the Guggenheim Group were true to their word and immediately started building a championship contender. In their first couple of years in charge, they assembled one of the best pitching rotations in baseball.
The Dodgers gave free agent pitcher Zach Greinke a six-year $147 million deal, South Korean pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu a $36 million deal over six years, and Clayton Kershaw received a seven-year deal worth $215 million.
Los Angeles didn’t stop with the pitching staff; the Dodgers also made sure they had one of the best hitting lineups in baseball. The Dodgers traded for Hanley Ramírez from the Miami Marlins; they also made a trade with the Boston Red Sox, who were trying to get rid of some player salaries and received Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez.
In a case of the rich getting richer, the Dodgers got a welcome surprise with the emergence of rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig, who finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2013, despite not getting called up until June.
By the time the Dodgers were done improving their roster, they had the highest payroll in Major League Baseball. With a $272 million payroll, there was a lot of pressure to win the World Series.
In the Guggenheim Group’s first year in charge, the Dodgers finished second in the NL West and missed out on the playoffs. In their second year, the Dodgers won their first of three consecutive NL West championships but lost in the National League Championship Series.
In the past two seasons, the Dodgers lost in the National League Division Series, which has left their fans wondering if they will ever get to the World Series with their current roster.
After their disappointing finish last season, the team replaced manager Don Mattingly with Dave Roberts. However, the Dodgers lost Zach Greinke, who finished second in the Cy Young Award voting, to the Arizona Diamondbacks in free agency after he opted out of the remaining three years left on the deal he signed in 2012.
The loss of Greinke is already being felt by the Dodgers, who are tied with the San Francisco Giants for the NL West lead. Kenta Maeda, the rookie pitcher the Dodgers signed from Japan has filled in nicely with a 3-1 record and a 1.41 ERA in five starts, but LA’s lack of depth at the starting pitcher position doesn’t bode well for their World Series chances.
If the Dodgers fail to make the playoffs this season or get eliminated early, the Guggenheim group will have to consider rebuilding because having the highest payroll in baseball for the last four seasons and not making the World Series is unacceptable to them and their fans.