Dodgers Team News

Are the Dodgers Willing to Go Big to Sign Shohei Ohtani? It’s Complicated

As the offseason nears, everyone is thinking about where Shohei Ohtani will sign. The Dodgers are the reported favorites to get Ohtani. Since 2015, the Dodgers have developed a reputation for disliking signing players to mega contracts. That’s when Andrew Friedman joined the organization as the president of baseball operations. Since then, the largest free agent contract the club has handed out was to Freddie Freeman in March of 2022.

That 6 year, $162 million contract has been a win for LA. Beyond that, the Dodgers have mostly stayed out of long-term contract territory in free agency.

In a recent conversation on “The Show” podcast with Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman, Friedman was asked if there was anything in his free agency philosophy that almost immediately precludes his club from pursuing “bigger deals” like the one Shohei Ohtani is set to sign this offseason.

He was thorough in his response to the question.

“No. I mean, I think my philosophy is not that hard and fast rules about anything. That is kind of my operating ethos. I think my greatest strength is also my greatest weakness in that I see everything in grey. I don’t see anything on extremes. So for me, everything is case-by-case. I think when looking at bigger contracts — and obviously, we have a number of them — it’s a little bit about how you space them out and time them. And the more you have, obviously, the more good players you need that are zero to three players. You need a really strong farm system… organizational health in that moment as you forecast forward and so it’s just so much more nuanced than, ‘hey, are we pro big deal? Anti big deal?’ I mean, Mookie [Betts] was a very large deal. Freddie was for age and AAV, but obviously been great.”

The Show Podcast

The Dodgers might be cautious with Ohtani after he tore his UCL, but maybe the Dodgers won’t exactly be out on the Japanese superstar who is expected to sign a record-breaking contract this winter. Of course, before Ohtani can pitch again, he must address the injury. Luckily, there was some good news for Shohei on that front on Monday. Even without pitching, he is one of the best sluggers in the major leagues. The Dodgers and Friedman must assess their needs and see if Ohtani fits in their plans for the future.

Friedman continued.

“Everything is a case-by-case and how it kind of intertwines into our current roster, our future roster and just giving ourselves as much flexibility to be as good as we can be because we appreciate that it’s hard to know what’s going to happen today. It’s even more difficult to know what’s going to happen a year from now, two years from now and so kicking the can and buying time and optionality on things for as long as you can whether it’s on a player or whatever it is, has a lot of value. And, for us, I think being able to sustain this run and also have the future outlook that we have right now is something that is front and center for us in our minds in everything we do. And we’ve all seen a lot of large market teams have a really good run and a lot of success and then kind of fall off the cliff and take a while to build back up. And we feel like we owe it to our fans to not do that. My guess is that if we do do that, I’ll be pumping gas somewhere but that’s what drives us. And we’re trying to be as good as we can be in the current year but also keep us in position to be as good as we can be in future years as well.”

All in all, what Friedman has done has been great for Dodger baseball since taking over operations late in 2014. The Dodgers will be in on Sho-Time this winter, but the Dodgers won’t destroy the long term future of the club to sign him.

One Comment

  1. Minimum salaries: (1) Bobby Miller (2) Sheehan (3) Pepiot (4) Stone (5) Outman (6) Miguel Vargas (7) Michael Busch (under $10 million)
    Very low salaries (8) Lux (9) Rojas (10) Barnes (11) Vesia (12) Graterol [?] (13) Heyward if 2024 is still mostly paid by the Cubs
    and some bullpen guys either there now or picked up in the winter ($30 – $35 million)
    Middle salaries (14) Peralta (15) Smith (16) Evan Phillips (17) Buehler ($40) I’meaving out JD Martinez and Muncy But they might take up more than $25 million if they both come back
    Very high salaries: (18) Kershaw (if he decides to return) (19) Betts (20) Freeman ($80 million)
    Needs: starting pitching which, if by free agency, could be expensive — Blake Snell or Yamamoto
    So there may not be room for Ohtani

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