As the front-runners in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, the Dodgers need to close a deal.
The Major League Baseball offseason is well underway, and with the Winter Meetings beginning the following week, things should get much more hectic. So let’s get ahead of the impending flood of deals and signings and advise a few elite teams on how to run their businesses before it’s too late.
This week, it’s lead decision-maker Andrew Friedman of the always powerful Los Angeles Dodgers, who will shrug off our unsolicited advise with a nod. We make an effort to be realistic while dealing with each team and keep in mind that teams are not allowed to coerce players into signing contracts or to force other teams to trade with them. Consider these therefore not as “unyielding marching orders,” but rather as “politely recommended hypotheticals.”
In any case, take a stance, Dodgers, and submit to the force of our advice. Take these actions right now.
1. Go get Shohei Ohtani
Let’s avoid overanalyzing these things. Being the greatest and most well-known baseball player in the world, Shohei Ohtani offers a generational opportunity in terms of free agency. Since the Dodgers are a familiar team in terms of geography and have maintained a high level of success over numerous seasons, he has been closely associated with them. In addition, the Dodgers generate a lot of revenue and are typically prepared to spend money. Not to mention L.A.’s previous attempts to capture the two-way phenomenon.
More practically, with J.D. Martinez expected to depart as a free agent, the Dodgers have an immediate need at DH. Naturally, Ohtani, one of the finest hitters in baseball, would be a wonderful fit for that position. It’s a tantalising thought to drop him into a lineup that already features players like Will Smith, Freddie Freeman, and Mookie Betts. Ohtani’s elbow surgery prevents him from pitching in 2024, but beginning in 2025, he would assist the Dodgers fill a long-term rotation requirement.
To put it plainly, teams like the Rangers, Cubs, Red Sox, and Mets are willing to spend $500 million or more on Ohtani, so there will be fierce competition for him. However, the Dodgers have a number of early advantages. Do not waste them.
2. Trade for Corbin Burnes
As was briefly discussed earlier, the Dodgers are currently concerned about their rotation. That’s the case even if they re-sign Clayton Kershaw, the legendary pitcher of the team, who isn’t anticipated to pitch until the summer due to age and durability issues. Walker Buehler, who naturally makes a valuable contribution at the front end, is back from Tommy John surgery. Bobby Miller, a young man, has also merited a position for 2024 and beyond. Yes, Dustin May will most likely return at some point in the upcoming season, but the Dodgers still require a game-changer. Which takes us to Burnes.
The Brewers seem to be cutting salary once more, which could mean that they trade Burnes as he approaches his walk year. The right-hander, who is 29 years old, is a true ace. Burnes has a career ERA+ of 129 with 870 strikeouts in 709 1/3 innings, along with a Cy Young Award and three All-Star appearances. Burnes had an ERA of 3.39 in 32 starts for Milwaukee in 2023. If both sides are interested in keeping Burnes in Los Angeles, the organisation has the resources to sign him to a contract that would keep him there. Burnes would significantly enhance the front of the Dodger rotation.
As many potential contenders as there are in need of starting pitchers, the cost in trade for a walk-year player may be more than you would anticipate. But the Dodgers have enough intriguing young talent to present him with a strong deal.
3. Add infield help
After missing the entirety of 2023 due to a knee injury, Gavin Lux is expected to return to the Dodgers. If he is not transferred to Milwaukee in the Burnes swap, he might play shortstop or second base. Miguel Rojas is back, but it’s preferable to use him as a backup.
The Dodgers may look into sending some of their inexperienced pitching depth to the Cardinals in exchange for Tommy Edman or Brendan Donovan in order to close the other middle infield hole. If their goals are more modest, they might select from the limited pool of free agents and add veteran Elvis Andrus or deadline addition Amed Rosario as depth. It’s believed that the Reds are shopping Jonathan India elsewhere in the trade market. Michael Busch is undoubtedly mentally prepared for a chance at second base, if not full-time duty.
The Dodgers could be in a tight spot if Lux is dealt or is unable to man short due to his healed knee. Nevertheless, they will have such a strong roster that they can tolerate some possibly subpar performance from these premium spots.