This offseason has been…. something, to say the least. Especially this week at the Winter Meetings. Billions of dollars worth of contracts have been handed out and it seems like nearly every team is getting in on the action.
Well, almost every team.
At the time of this article, the Dodgers have made two notable moves this offseason. They signed Shelby Miller to a major league contract. As recently as an hour ago, they signed Jason Heyward to a minor league contract.
Hey, if this was 2015, this would be an A+ of an offseason for the Dodgers! Instead, it’s the 2022 offseason and that is all LA has done so far.
The Padres have been aggressive with numerous big-time free agents. The Giants seem like they’re on the verge of a big signing. Plus, a number of teams have been active with trades and free agents, improving their team for 2023.
While all this has been going on, the Dodgers have sat in silence. Sure, they may have some big moves up their sleeves. With their track record, we have no reason to doubt them.
Based on how things are currently going, it looks like the Dodgers are preparing for the 2024 season, not the 2023 season. Yes, you read that right. I have no problem with that, and I’ll explain why in this article.
With that being said. The Dodgers have this grand master plan…. for their sake, they better hope it pays off.
Before I get into what this master plan is, let’s talk about why the Dodgers have their eyes set on 2024.
Although the Dodgers are usually one of the highest spending teams in the league, it comes at a cost. If the Dodgers go over the tax threshold yet again, they’re going to owe a significant number in taxes once again.
In addition to the costly fees, it also costs the Dodgers draft picks along with their international signing money. They lost both Trea Turner and Tyler Anderson after extending them qualifying offers. Instead of getting higher draft picks for their departures, the highest pick LA got out of both departures was a fourth rounder. The Dodgers are in a position better than majority of the league, but at some point you need to fix those kind of things.
If the Dodgers are able to stay under the tax threshold for 2023, their tax rates would reset for 2024, which would be massive.
As of right now, the Dodgers are at just under $185 million for the 2023 campaign. The competitive balance tax threshold is $233 million in 2023. Although many fans are calling for the team to sign Carlos Correa, if they were to give him $35 million a year, it would cut things awfully close to that number with numerous spots to fill on the roster.
Although we’d all like the team to spend big and bring in yet another superstar, I get it. Looking at the bigger picture, they really do need to try and reset everything. It’s just something that would be very beneficial for the team moving forward.
You may be asking yourself, why plan for 2024? Well, there’s one main reason. Actually, there are a few. Before I get to the main prize, let’s talk about the other.
Julio Urias will be a free agent. I’m not sure what he’ll get on the open market, but it’ll be a lot. Sure, the Dodgers may attempt to extend him in 2023, but Urias is a Scott Boras client. That likely means it won’t happen. Whatever Urias’ price tag is, the Dodgers need to have money available to try and bring him back.
So, you want to have money available to attempt to bring your ace back. Now let’s get to the real prize of the 2023 offseason.
You may be familiar with him. Spoiler alert, he’s the main photo in the article. Yes, I’m talking about Shohei Ohtani. It appears as if the Dodgers are setting themselves up to make a run at the superstar next offseason.
How can I put this…..
That’s really good!
It’s easy to see why the Dodgers would want him. You’re getting two All-Stars for the price of one. Well, it might be the price of two at the rate we’re seeing these contracts handed out. Ohtani won’t turn 29 until July. You’ll have him right in his prime.
If I were to guess, he’ll easily surpass $400 million. The only question is how much higher other teams will be willing to go. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become baseball’s first $500 million man. If he stays healthy next season, he’s worth it. I mean, his value as a hitter is easily $30 million, likely more. His value as a pitcher is well over $20 million, likely more as well.
Only a handful of teams are going to be able to afford him. The Dodgers are trying to set themselves up to be one of them. If they are coming off a season in which they stayed below the tax threshold, it gives them an opportunity to potentially offer him more money. Not only will LA have the checkbooks opened up for Ohtani, they also have prior experience with him, which might help their case.
The Dodgers actually were close to signing Ohtani when he was in high school. They made another attempt to sign him when he came over to the majors five years ago. I still believe he would have been a Dodger had the National League had the designated hitter at the time. It made sense why he’d go to an American League team.
Ohtani has expressed his interest in wanting to win badly. Well, his chances will sure be a lot higher with the Dodgers.
If this is the Dodgers’ master plan, I have zero issue with it. Ohtani is the best player in the game and if you can get him, do everything you possibly can to land him. With that being said, it does come with risk.
Looking at the free agents next season, the options are not that enticing. Manny Machado could opt out, but does he even think of returning to Los Angeles? Rafael Devers is an intriguing option, but will the Red Sox try and extend him this season? Outside of those names, there aren’t any players I’d be willing to offer large contracts to.
It would definitely help their chances of bringing Urias back, but they could still do that by signing Ohtani. The Dodgers appear to be putting all their chips into one basket for next offseason. Avoiding guys this offseason like Justin Verlander, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Aaron Judge to set themselves up to make a run at Ohtani next year.
Like I mentioned, I don’t mind it. Although people are upset with how the offseason has gone, this is a team that can still win the NL West. At the very least, they’re a lock for the playoffs. Will they win 111 games? Nope. Will they win 100 games? They could. If I were to bet, we can assume they’ll at least surpass 90 wins, which gets them into October.
At this point, who cares what your record is. Just get into October and anything can happen. Maybe that’s the mindset the Dodgers have for 2023. They could still win it all with the roster they currently have constructed, but adding a few more pieces would be ideal.
There is a lot of time between now and Opening Day. A lot can change. Who knows, maybe the Dodgers make a splash after all. Whatever their plan is, I’m on board with it. I’m all for resetting the luxury tax and putting the team in a great position by doing so.
If they can do that while bringing in Shohei Ohtani next year, even better.