The Dodgers have protected themselves in case center fielder Brett Butler, who said Wednesday that he would be coming back, is unable to play the entire season.
Butler, who underwent surgery for cancer last May, is guaranteed $500,000, and of the 20 players already signed for 1997 by the Dodgers, he is the only one with incentives in his contract.
Butler will be paid $3,500 a day for each day he's on the major league roster, up to $600,000. He also will be paid $1,000 for every plate appearance, up to a maximum of $500,000, and $33,333.33 for each game he starts, up to 120 games. If he achieves all of his incentives, he will be only 40 cents shy of the $2-million salary he earned last year.
As for the Dodger payroll, it figures to be the highest in franchise history.
According to figures obtained by The Times, the Dodgers already have allotted $34.2 million in salaries and signing bonuses to 20 players. They are expected to surpass $40 million in player payroll for the first time since 1992, once they sign All-Star catcher Mike Piazza.
The Dodgers are anticipating paying Piazza more than $6 million for the 1997 season and pitcher Pedro Astacio is expected to get at least $2.5 million.
Those two signings should push the payroll past their franchise record of $42.505 million in 1992. None of the other unsigned players are expected to receive more than $700,000, among them outfielder Todd Hollandsworth, the 1996 rookie of the year, and pitcher Ismael Valdes.