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Dodgers notes: Winter meetings, Yoshinbou Yamamoto, Jason Heyward

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World Baseball Classic Semifinals: Mexico v Japan Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

The winter meetings will begin on Monday in Nashville, and the eyes of all 30 teams will be on whether Shohei Ohtani signs with a team or not.

The Dodgers have been linked to Ohtani since the beginning of the offseason, and are looking to splurge in the starting pitching market as a whole. After losing out on starters Aaron Nola and Sonny Gray to the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals, respectively, the Dodgers will have to find upgrades for a rotation that currently sports Walker Buehler and Bobby Miller as the two main headliners.

Juan Toribio of MLB.com brings up the three main areas of concern for the Dodgers at the winter meetings, noting how the chance of a team signing Ohtani could happen sooner than expected:

“The Dodgers have a second bite at the apple and are, once again, viewed as the favorites. With Ohtani being the big fish, the free-agent market hasn’t moved as quickly as previous years. Because of that, there’s a real possibility that Ohtani picks his next team by the end of the Winter Meetings. Will that be the Dodgers? The entire baseball world is waiting for that decision.”

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The Dodgers tried to make a bid for one of Japan’s greatest exports in Ichiro Suzuki back in 2000. Though they failed back then, the Dodgers are now looking to win the bidding war for another prized Japanese free agent in Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

Steve Henson of the Los Angeles Times writes about the current market range for Yamamoto, highlighting the fact a high annual average value could be enticing for both the Dodgers and the 25-year old right hander, who just recently won his third consecutive Eiji Sawamura Award (the NPB equivalent of the Cy Young Award).

“The Dodgers were outbid by the Seattle Mariners for Suzuki in 2000 and reportedly are interested in Yamamoto, who expressed fandom of the boys in blue as a youngster. He’s only 25 years old, meaning that the short free-agent contracts with high average annual value that the Dodgers favor over lengthy deals might appeal to Yamamoto.”

The Dodgers began their offseason signings by bringing back one of their clubhouse leaders from 2023, Jason Heyward, to a team-friendly $9 million deal for the 2024 season.

Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic discusses the signing and what it means for the Dodgers to have a player and leader like Heyward return for his second season with the team.

“Heyward signaled a willingness to return at the end of the season, raving about his time in Los Angeles and the chance to play with Freeman again. Those around the club praised Heyward’s impact in the clubhouse, describing him as a tone-setter for the platoon-heavy approach that fueled the Dodgers’ first 900-run season since the franchise moved to Los Angeles.”