The common theme popping up in all speculation about the Dodgers' moves during hot stove season is the question of financial flexibility. Given the looming spectre of the McCourt divorce and the uncertainty as to who will own the club when the dust settles, concerns over the Dodgers' spending are warranted. The divorce is certainly relevant to the team's offseason plans, and discussion of the litigation is appropriate.*
*It better be. What good am I if it's not?
I think Dodger fans should be very aware, though, that the Dodgers aren't alone in their penury this winter. The Giants are looking at the "second tier" of the free agent crop. The Rockies are working with "limited resources." The Diamondbacks, while planning to add payroll, "don't have an enormous war chest." And the Padres expect to take a few years to get their payroll back above $70 million; they're not going to invest in premium pieces this winter.
To say that baseball has financial issues this offseason isn't beating a dead horse, it's stirring glue. And so while the McCourt divorce might force the Dodgers to operate a little leaner this winter, is it possible that might be a blessing? We know how bad, generally, the deals for top-shelf free agents turn out. How's a 37-year-old John Lackey making $17 million sound to you? And those deals just cost money. A deal for Halladay would cost money and talent--there's a heck of an argument to be made that even Billingsley for Halladay straight-up would be a disastrous move.
So amid all the doom and gloom, remember that the divorce might just keep the Dodgers from shooting themselves in the foot by overspending on a pretty weak free agent class. And, in the aggregate, consider that every team out there has its own albatross. Granted, dbacks50millionofdeferredsalary.net and giantsowe40milliontoZitoRowandandRenteria_in2010_.com probably aren't as compelling as this little corner of the internet. But as they relate to offseason spending, those issues are every bit as relevant.