Dodgers prep for a winter with a free agent pursuit like no other

November 9th, 2023

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The offseason has begun, and it will be an important one for the Dodgers following back-to-back exits in the National League Division Series to NL West rivals.

With the General Managers Meetings taking place in Arizona this week, let’s delve into what’s going on and where things stand with the Dodgers this early in the offseason:

Ohtani’s world 
There aren’t 20 minutes that go by without Shohei Ohtani’s name getting brought up at the GM Meetings. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what the two-way superstar will make, what he values in free agency and where he could end up.

The reality is few know much about Ohtani and what he wants. What we do know, however, is that the Dodgers should be an attractive destination for him, and the organization has prepared to make a strong run at the Japanese star this winter.

“He’s a very good baseball player, and he’s a free agent,” said Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes. “So there’s not much we can comment on.”

The Dodgers -- and just about every other team -- haven’t said anything publicly about Ohtani, but the interest is there. There are a couple complications that everyone needs to work through. Ohtani comes with a lot of attention and he won’t be able to pitch in 2024 after undergoing a second major right elbow surgery. Ohtani, however, would give the Dodgers another dominant hitter, forming perhaps the best trio -- along with Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman -- the game has seen in a long time, maybe ever.

What Ohtani makes annually will be another interesting case for the Dodgers and other teams. They will need to work through how many years they believe he can pitch at an ace level once he gets back healthy. Those are all things the Dodgers have worked through and will continue to dig into over the next few weeks. But you can expect the Dodgers to be right in the thick of it until Ohtani makes his decision.

Starting pitching needs to be addressed
Regardless of whether the Dodgers sign Ohtani, they will need to acquire at least one starter this offseason. Two will be more realistic.

“It’s a priority for us,” Gomes said. “How that comes about is based on trade market, free agency and bouncing that with our internal options, but it’ll be something we want to do. I don’t think we’re unique to that. I bet you every other team is in that space, too.”

This free agent class does give the Dodgers some opportunities to add some impact arms. Blake Snell, favored to win his second Cy Young Award next week, is the best option of them all. He will, of course, demand some top-end money. Japanese star Yoshinobu Yamamoto is an option, though he will come at a high price tag and there are some concerns with his size and how he’ll transition to the Major Leagues. Aaron Nola, Jordan Montgomery and Sonny Gray are solid options who would immediately improve the Dodgers’ rotation.

The Dodgers, as they usually are, will be looking for some buy-low candidates, as well. Jack Flaherty, Lucas Giolito, Corey Kluber, Seth Lugo, Michael Wacha and Hyun Jin Ryu fit that description. On the trade market, the Dodgers will check in on Dylan Cease, Corbin Burnes and Tyler Glasnow.

“Clearly our starting pitching wasn’t good in the playoffs,” Gomes said. “Starting pitching didn’t show up the way we expected it to. It’s a little bit of making sure we feel good about our group and making sure that we are acquiring or keeping that depth, as well as trying to add pieces that we feel good about taking down playoff starts.”

Quick hits 
• Gomes said shortstop is continuing to progress after suffering a torn ACL and LCL, as well as a right hamstring tear. Lux has been doing drills and, if healthy, could be the team’s starting shortstop in 2024. The Dodgers, however, will continue to monitor the trade market for a shortstop, mainly Milwaukee’s Willy Adames and Toronto’s Bo Bichette. 

• Starting pitcher will be back in ‘24, but the Dodgers are “still talking about” whether the right-hander will have innings restrictions next season.

• Corner outfield will be a priority for the Dodgers this winter. With Betts likely to continue to play a large chunk of second base, the Dodgers could be looking for a left fielder and right fielder. Both David Peralta and Jason Heyward are free agents this winter and a reunion with the latter is not out of the question.

• There’s no real update on , but a return in ‘24 seems unlikely for the hard-throwing right-hander who underwent a second Tommy John surgery this summer.