The Dodgers have the highest team payroll in the major leagues, but that is not the primary reason why they are in the World Series.
The team’s payroll of $265,149,292, according to spotrac.com, leads off with perennial Cy Young Award candidate Clayton Kershaw, who made $35.5 million this season. But salaries for many of the key contributors to the Dodgers success are certainly in line with other franchises.
Adrian Gonzalez, the last player remaining from a not so great deal in 2012 that also brought Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford from the Red Sox, is still on the books for another $22.3 million next season. Andre Ethier, who played in 38 regular-season games the last two seasons because of injury, made $17.5 million. He returned in the NLCS. Injured pitcher Scott Kazmir earned $17.6 million.
But prudent acquisitions, such as Mets castoff Justin Turner ($13 million) burgeoning star Chris Taylor ($535,000) and former Long Island Ducks pitcher Rich Hill ($12.6 million) are more than earning their keep. And the Dodgers struck gold from their own system in 2016 National League rookie of the year Corey Seager ($575,000) and, this season, Cody Bellinger ($535,000), a lock to win the rookie award. Even the mercurial Yasiel Puig ($8.21 million) seems like a good deal, though he also received a $12 million signing bonus.
Closer Kenley Jansen made $10.8 million. The Dodgers also got their money’s worth from starters Alex Wood ($2.8 million) and Kenta Maeda ($7.3 million).
The Yankees, with the majors’ second-highest payroll at $224,458,752, received huge production from the relatively inexpensive contracts of rookie Aaron Judge ($544,500) second year player Gary Sanchez ($557,900) and Didi Gregorius ($5.1 million). The trio combined for 110 home runs and 291 runs batted in. The big salaries were paid to CC Sabathia ($25 million), Masahiro Tanaka ($22 million), Jacoby Ellsbury ($21.1 million) and the retired Alex Rodriguez ($21 million)
The Dodgers went on an incredible run, going 91-36 and amassing a 21-game lead in their division by Aug. 25. Then they nose dived, stopped hitting and pitching and incredibly lost 11 straight and 16 of 17 as their division lead dwindled to nine games. That one victory came on Sept. 1 by Kershaw, who had been on the disabled list with a back injury since July 26.
The Dodgers reverted to midseason form in the postseason, sweeping the Diamondbacks in the NL Division Series and beating the Cubs in five to win the NLCS. They play the Astros, who defeated the Yankees in the ALCS, in Los Angeles Tuesday in Game 1 of the World Series.