Ohtani underwent an elbow procedure in September, and won’t be able to take the mound until 2025, restricting himself to designated duties next year. No matter how helpful the structure of Ohtani’s contract is to the Dodgers’ competitive balance tax payroll, it undoubtedly affects the rest of the offseason planning. The deferrals will facilitate other additions, but the Dodgers are operating with a quite different budget than they were a few days ago.
All of this is to preface the possibility of the front office seeing things differently, as far as whom they’ll go after, and what they’re willing to do to get that player or players.
With Aaron Nola off the market, Blake Snell and Jordan Yamamoto are the two ace-caliber free agents, both rumored to be of interest to the Dodgers, and why wouldn’t they be Beyond those two guys, you have Jordan Montgomery in an in-between tier, and then you’re talking about the Lucas Giolitos of the world.
There is plenty of available pitching, and the team just invested $700 million on a player who’ll be a primary factor in pitching a year from now. With that in mind, how will the Dodgers handle the offseason, knowing they’re in it to go the distance in 2024, and need starting pitching help?
Well, there are a few points to address here. To start, it’s pretty clear the club is fine blowing past the luxury tax, and having said that Yamamoto and Snell don’t appear to be unreachable now that Ohtani is onboard.
That does not mean things are exactly as they were. It could very well be that now with Ohtani as a locked-up ace long-term, the Dodgers are more willing to be aggressive on the trade market rather than in free agency.
LA could pay a little more than it was willing to, a week ago, and get Glasnow for a year (at $25 million) without the financial commitment required in free agency. The same could be said for Dylan Cease, who’s controllable for two years.
If the Dodgers do decide to just shell out the necessary figure to either Snell or Yamamoto, between one of them and Ohtani, you’re talking about nearing the one billion dollar mark for two players.
I find we tend to overplay the whole “this team should be more prudent” narrative, fed to most of us by MLB owners. Usually, when we discuss an acquisition being good or not, it is mostly on the analysis of whether that was the best use of those resources. And not whether those resources should have been used at all.
Yes, signing Ohtani is a gigantic statement in terms of looking to win, but this is a business. The Dodgers wouldn’t expose themselves to the possibility of losing game-changing money if it wasn’t worth their while financially in some capacity.
This means, yes, they’re still in the running for the free agent aces, but with a stack of young pitchers and a fully stocked farm system, they might opt to prioritize a trade for one, rather than another huge signing.