NEW YORK (AP) Chase Utley's acquisition put the Los Angeles Dodgers close to becoming the first baseball team with a $300 million luxury-tax payroll.
The trade Wednesday that sent the six-time All-Star second baseman from Philadelphia to the NL West leaders raised the Dodgers' projected payroll for tax purposes to about $298.5 million, according to calculations by Major League Baseball. Performance bonuses for other players and end-of-season award bonuses could make the Dodgers the first team to reach the $300 million mark.
''That's fine. They haven't won the championship,'' Baltimore All-Star outfielder Adam Jones said. ''You still have to play between the lines - same thing with the Yankees in the `90s and 2000s. It's baseball, man. Our union is tough enough to fight for our rights and we don't have a salary cap. Los Angeles is the second-biggest city in the United States. They can support it. I don't have to pay it!''
Luxury tax payrolls are based average annual values of contracts for the 40-man roster and include about $13 million per team in benefits, such as the health and pension plan, and payroll, unemployment and Social Security taxes paid by clubs.
Los Angeles is well above the $189 million tax threshold and will pay at a 40 percent rate for exceeding the mark for the third straight year. Its projected tax bill is about $44 million, which would top the record $34 million paid by the New York Yankees after the 2005 season.
The Dodgers' luxury tax payroll includes about $40 million for players no longer with the organization.
Los Angeles paid $11.4 million in tax in 2013 and $26.6 million last year, when its tax payroll was $277.7 million.
The Dodgers' regular payroll - salaries plus prorated shares of signing bonuses and earned bonuses - is at about $285 million, up from a record $257 million last year.
Utley receives as additional $1.13 million assignment bonus from the Phillies for agreeing to the trade, raising his potential 2015 income to $16.13 million. Philadelphia also agreed to cover the cost of the $2 million buyout if the Dodgers decline his 2016 option, currently on track to be at a price of $11 million.
Los Angeles is paying $2.13 million to the second baseman for the remainder of this season. As part of the trade, the Phillies agreed to send the Dodgers $383,661 by Oct. 15, covering a portion of the $2,513,661 remaining on the second baseman's $10 million salary for this season.
In addition, the Phillies will pay the entire cost of Utley's roster bonus, which will be the full $5 million, unless he has a specified knee injury during the rest of the season that puts him on the disabled list for 15 or more days.
AP Sports Writer David Ginsburg in Baltimore contributed to this report.