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Dodgers fall short in Ohtani sweepstakes

MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers didn't land Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani on Friday, leaving them in need of a starting pitcher but still essentially the team that fell one win shy of a World Series title.

With the Winter Meetings opening on Monday, the Dodgers are expected to either try to re-sign starting pitcher Yu Darvish or trade for a replacement; target potential setup relievers to replace Brandon Morrow, who might land closer money after his strong postseason; and retain Chase Utley or find a younger replacement as a left-handed-hitting second baseman.

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers didn't land Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani on Friday, leaving them in need of a starting pitcher but still essentially the team that fell one win shy of a World Series title.

With the Winter Meetings opening on Monday, the Dodgers are expected to either try to re-sign starting pitcher Yu Darvish or trade for a replacement; target potential setup relievers to replace Brandon Morrow, who might land closer money after his strong postseason; and retain Chase Utley or find a younger replacement as a left-handed-hitting second baseman.

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And the Dodgers will no doubt continue to be mentioned in every Giancarlo Stanton trade rumor, as they would love to have him, but not his $295 million contract.

The assumption is that Stanton wants to be a Dodger. The club was hoping the same from Ohtani, whose agent did not reveal why the two-way star chose the Angels over the other six finalists. Two obvious differences between the Angels and Dodgers: The Dodgers couldn't offer Ohtani more than a $300,000 bonus. Nor could they or the other three National League finalists boost a designated-hitter spot, which creates opportunities for Ohtani to bat when he's not pitching.

If the signing bonus was a determining factor, the Dodgers were limited to a $300,000 offer, having put themselves in the penalty box for surpassing limits in recent years while snapping up more than a dozen Cuban prospects who suddenly became available.

Like the Angels, the Dodgers offered Ohtani a diverse city with a vibrant Japanese community. Unlike any other finalist, the Dodgers are coming off a World Series appearance. Like all the teams, the Dodgers have a front office willing to accommodate his unique skill set. They also have a pitching coach in Rick Honeycutt proven with Asian pitchers. The Dodgers also have a front-office staff with multiple Japanese-speaking officials and proximity to his Los Angeles-based agent.

Most scouts consider Ohtani a pitcher first, and with their starting depth the Dodgers would have been able to provide Ohatani extra days of rest as he transitions from the once-a-week workload that is normal in Japan. Since Hideo Nomo, the Dodgers have helped Asian pitchers Kaz Ishii, Hong-Chi Kuo, Takashi Saito, Hiroki Kuroda, Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Darvish thrive.

To utilize Ohtani's bat, the Dodgers were likely to put him in a corner-outfield spot, even though most of his batting appearances in Japan came as a designated hitter.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers