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Hiroki Kuroda's Contract Continues Dodgers Tradition Of Backloading & Deferrals

Now that Hiroki Kuroda has returned to the Dodgers on a one-year contract, the club have a pretty formidable starting rotation. The Dodgers have pre-free agency pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley leading the pack, followed by Kuroda and Ted Lilly, who also re-signed with the Dodgers this offseason. However, the contracts for both Kuroda and Lilly continue a recent Dodger trend of backloading the money.

Kuroda's $12 million contract calls for an $8 million salary in 2011, and a $4 million signing bonus to be spread out over 2012-2013. Paying players who are no longer around is nothing new for the Dodgers. On the 2011 payroll alone, the Dodgers are paying five players no longer on the team:

Dodgers Dead Money In 2011
Player Salary   Comment
Manny Ramirez $7,677,596   nearly $20 million deferred through 2013
Juan Pierre $3,500,000   paid $10.5m of $18.5m in last year's trade to Chicago
Andruw Jones $3,375,000   ate $22 million to make him go away in 2009; paying through 2014
Jason Schmidt $1,500,000   final portion of deferred signing bonus of failed $47 million deal
Vicente Padilla      $1,000,000   deferred signing bonus from last year's one-year, $5 million deal
Totals $17,052,596   doesn't include option buyouts for Brad Ausmus or Octavio Dotel

That's $17 million paid next year to players no longer here. That's why the Dodgers have to get creative with these contracts. In addition to Kuroda, the Dodgers are paying Lilly only $7.5 million in 2011, the first year of his three-year, $33 million contract.

Deferring money isn't always a bad thing. After all, the time value of money dictates that it is almost always better to pay money later rather than sooner. But, that is assuming all the money is there in the first place. Right or wrong, with Frank McCourt and the Dodgers, there always seems to be doubt about that liquidity.

For more Dodgers news and analysis, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.