At the beginning of this decade, the Dodgers were in the news continuously for all the wrong reasons and the future of the franchise was unknown. Owner Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie were going through divorce proceedings and a legal battle ensued over ownership of the team. After long and drawn out legal proceedings including the franchise filing for bankruptcy protection, McCourt was forced to seek a buyer for the team.
Luckily for the fans of the team, local legend Magic Johnson and a group of business partners, headed by Mark Walter of the Guggenheim Group, stepped up with an offer of $2.1 billion, which was eventually accepted by the courts and MLB, passing ownership of the franchise exactly five years ago today, on May 1, 2012.
How has that ownership change affected the franchise?
Well, let’s take a look at the moves made since the Guggenheim Group took over in 2012.
- They brought in former Tampa Bay Rays GM Andrew Friedman in October of 2014 to become their president of baseball operations. He removed former GM Ned Colletti from his position.
- Friedman then brought in Farhan Zaidi as the general manager.
- The team has rolled up a 439-348 record (55.7% win percentage) with four consecutive playoff appearances, including two trips to the NLCS. Contrast that with a 691-627 (52.4%) record and four playoff appearances (2 NLCS’) in the eight years (2004-2012) that McCourt owned the franchise.
- The Forbes valuation of the franchise has jumped from $1.4 billion at the time of the sale to $2.75 billion in their latest estimate.
- The Dodgers own the largest payroll in MLB at a little over $245 million, a long way from the bankruptcy filing that McCourt brought to the courts due to his inability to meet payroll.
It would be disingenuous to fully attribute the change in the team’s fortunes solely to the change in ownership, or even the moves that they’ve made. Remember, the new ownership group held on to GM Ned Colletti for the first two years of their tenure before bringing in Andrew Friedman.
That said, while the team hasn’t yet reached the goal of ending the World Series drought, the new ownership has certainly gotten off to a better start with some of the moves that they’ve made in rattling off four straight playoffs appearances. At the very least, the value of the franchise, currently second in all of MLB, continues to grow and the future looks bright for the team both on and off the field.