The trade Wednesday, which sent Utley from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, 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 on 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, which leads the NL West, 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, a six-time All-Star second baseman, 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 Utley 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 Utley'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.
Los Angeles Dodgers' luxury-tax payroll could top $300 million
ESPN senior writer David Schoenfield discusses how the Dodgers' payroll is getting close to $300 million and if it will help the team reach the playoffs.