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Dodgers notes: Shohei Ohtani, Joe Kelly, Walker Buehler, Manuel Margot

MLB: DEC 14 Dodgers Introduce Shohei Ohtani Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Merry Christmas, Dodgers fans!

Christmas came early for the Dodgers, as they signed Shohei Ohtani to the largest contract in North American sports history, traded for Tyler Glasnow then signed him to a five year extension, and signed Yoshinobu Yamamoto to the largest contract ever handed to a pitcher— all within a two week span.

Before the Dodgers made the Ohtani signing official, Joe Kelly offered his jersey number 17 to Ohtani, as a part of an Ohtake 17 campaign with his wife, Ashley. Ohtani accepted Kelly’s offer, and Kelly changed his jersey number to 99, becoming the first Dodger to don the number this decade.

As a result of the Kelly’s granting Ohtani the same jersey number he wore during his time with the Angels, Ohtani gave the Kelly household the ultimate Christmas gift. In a season of giving, Ohtani surprised both Ashley and Joe by giving them a brand new Porsche.

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Walker Buehler is set to return to the Dodgers rotation ahead of the 2024 regular season, and should see action during spring training. Even though he’s made significant progress in his recovery, the Dodgers might not let Buehler jump back into full form when the season begins.

Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register notes that the Dodgers might opt to limit Buehler’s innings at the beginning of the season to prepare him for the postseason, where he has a cumulative 2.94 ERA in 79 23 innings.

“Having ‘October Walker’ might mean not having ‘March Walker’ or ‘April Walker.’ One option that makes sense is to have Buehler’s 2024 season start later than the schedule might indicate – saving innings at the start of the season rather than building in a break at some point when the season is ongoing.”

Cary Osborne of Dodger Insider writes about what Manuel Margot can bring to the Dodgers defensively, as the 29-year-old outfielder ranks within the 80th percentile in outs above average (OAA) and has the third highest OAA among all outfielders since the 2018 season.

“Manuel Margot comes to the Dodgers with a reputation as one of the top outfield defenders over the last decade. And the Dodgers still consider Margot an elite defender.”