“Think big” was a mantra Guggenheim Baseball Management deployed early and often after purchasing the Dodgers out of bankruptcy in 2012.Sometimes a buzzword is just a buzzword, of course, so the question needed to be asked: Would “think big” actually guide the Dodgers’ decision making, or would it merely look good on a billboard? The answer came quickly. Within a year, the club had spent more than $100 million by its own estimate to renovate Dodger Stadium. Within two years, the Dodgers’ payroll was the largest in baseball history. Within three years, the baseball operations department had been overhauled.On Thursday, team president Stan Kasten flew to the midwest for something relatively small by Guggenheim standards. The Dodgers’ new Triple-A affiliate was playing its first game as the rebranded Oklahoma City Dodgers. Co-owner Peter Guber and special advisor Tommy Lasorda were there, too. At the end of the day, it was only a minor-league baseball game. So what’s the big deal?For starters, only the Dodgers, Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals own their Triple-A affiliates. The advantage to all three teams, generally speaking, is control.“We have total input on the baseball side,” Kasten said Wednesday. “We have more input than we would usually have on the business side, A, because we own it. B, because our partner (in the Oklahoma City ownership group) is our partner here, Peter Guber. So we feel really comfortable with this partnership.”The Cardinals and Braves own their top four minor-league affiliates. Once common, this pattern has become the exception to the rule. In fact, no other big league club owns a Triple-A or Double-A team.A 2014 study comparing how many players drafted by the 30 major-league teams reached the majors ranked the Cardinals first and Braves tied for fifth. That’s probably a direct result of their acumen drafting and developing talented baseball players. Still, it’s interesting that these teams have chosen to control the business and baseball sides of so many of their affiliates — a model the Dodgers can now put into practice in Oklahoma City. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error There’s also the marketing aspect.“First of all, they’re called the Dodgers,” Kasten said. “They have a new logo and uniforms that have the ‘LA.’ It’s so cool that ‘OKLA’ stands for Oklahoma. It’s very much Dodger-y. They’ve tried to incorporate that. Their mascots — in the minor leagues, they have mascots — one is named Brooklyn. (The other is Brix.) It’s a lovely park, run by Mandalay, which runs the best minor-league franchise, so we’re fortunate.”Kasten said purchasing a Triple-A team was part of his vision for the franchise from the outset. It didn’t happen right away because of the logistics of baseball affiliation and the long list of competing priorities.In baseball, affiliation agreements last two or four years. Every even-numbered year, some minor-league franchises end their major-league affiliations and a “mating dance” ensues among potential major league teams looking to affiliate.Last year, Kasten said, it so happened the Oklahoma City RedHawks and Tulsa Drillers — a Double-A franchise located 100 miles northeast — were looking for new affiliates by year’s end. Franchises rarely come up for sale, and by summer Guber and Kasten began talks to purchase the RedHawks. The sale agreement was announced in September and formally approved earlier this year. When the Drillers and Colorado Rockies ended their affiliation in September, the Dodgers swooped in for the Oklahoma sweep.The proximity of the Oklahoma teams “was a very strong point for us,” Kasten said. “It made scouting, player movement, just working in general more convenient. Chattanooga is a great franchise and a great city, but being just 100 miles apart is a tremendous advantage.”Player contracts aside, it seems the biggest investments in the Dodgers franchise this year will be realized away from Chavez Ravine. Kasten said crews will break ground soon on a new training complex in the Dominican Republic. That project is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete.“There hasn’t been a new building since it became the first one (of its kind in the Dominican Republic) almost 30 years ago,” Kasten said. “It wasn’t modern at all in terms of the weight room, no air conditioning, no Wi-Fi — it’s just stuff that you need. “All the new complexes have those things. We had fallen far behind and we’re moving ahead.”Architect Janet Marie Smith, who has overseen renovation projects at Dodger Stadium, Fenway Park and Turner Field and who once designed Camden Yards, is overseeing the project in the Dominican Republic. It’s a small part of the Guggenheim baseball empire, but the thinking is big.