Making Kevin Brown a jet-setter is going to cost the Los Angeles Dodgers even more than $105 million.
The pitcher's private planes are being treated as plain old cash as far as the commissioner's office is concerned, and the team will have to pay an extra $204,000 in luxury tax this year.
The commissioner's office has proposed adding $600,000 to Brown's listed salary in each season of his $105 million, seven-year contract. That's because Brown's contract contains a unique clause allowing the use of a private jet -- at the team's expense -- 12 times a year so his family can travel from Los Angeles or Macon, Ga.
According to a letter sent to the Dodgers from the commissioner's office, the price of the Brown family's upgrade from first class to private plane is estimated to be worth $50,000 per round trip. It will be assessed at 34 percent rate.
Brown's contract also calls for him to receive eight season tickets, and the commissioner's office has asked the Dodgers for the value of those tickets with the intention of also adding that figure to his salary for luxury tax purposes.
However, the Dodgers won't be charged extra for giving Brown a hotel suite on road trips. He is among several players with that provision in his contract -- the latest to get one is Orel Hershiser when he signed with the New York Mets last week.
If Dodger Stadium is remodled, Brown would receive the free use of a luxury suite. If that happens, an extra charge would be added to his salary for luxury tax purposes.
Randy Johnson, who signed a $52.4 million, four-year contract with Arizona, gets a luxury suite as part of his deal, and the commissioner's office is adding it to the Diamondbacks' payroll, saying it is worth $95,000 a year.
Johnson's free pair of season tickets for the Phoenix Suns, also headed by Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo, also is being tacked on the payroll, at a cost of $13,500.
The Mets' payroll is being charged an additional $95,000 a season for the luxury suite the team is giving to catcher Mike Piazza as part of his $91 million, seven-year contract.
Los Angeles is expected to have the highest payroll in the major league this season for luxury tax purposes, nearly $5 million more than second-place Baltimore, according to February estimates. Unlike regular payroll calculations, which used the yearly salary plus a prorated share of the signing bonus, the luxury tax is calculated based on the average annual value of th entire contract, and the entire 40-man roster is used.
Complete luxury tax estimates aren't expected for a week or two. The actual tax will be based on final figures compiled in December and will be assessed in January 2000.
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