The Los Angeles Dodgers are in an interesting place this offseason. The team has plenty of money to spend, and has shown no hesitation in spending enormously to maintain one of the top payrolls in the game. At the moment, Los Angeles has over $100 million in space under the luxury tax threshold.
However, there are also several prospects knocking on the big-league door and the Dodgers have shown a propensity to give their homegrown players a chance, especially if they believe in them.
What does this mean? They could really go either way. According to Dodgers reporter David Vassegh — who is perhaps more familiar with the team than any reporter — Los Angeles is not gearing up to spend this offseason. Instead, Andrew Friedman and Co. may have their eyes on a bigger prize next winter.
With Jacob deGrom already off the board and tons of competition for the remaining top names, this might be a really smart idea.
The Dodgers could be saving up for Shohei Ohtani
There are no guarantees in baseball, and just because the Dodgers save money for Shohei Ohtani does not mean he would come across town. After all, the Angels somehow have a voodoo spell on Mike Trout to keep him in Anaheim without any team success. They are definitely hard at work trying to do the same with Ohtani this season.
In the grand scheme of things, though, you cannot blame the Dodgers for taking this approach. Ohtani is literally a once-in-a-lifetime talent, and if you have the means to pursue someone like him, then you have to do it every single time.
Plus, it’s not like there are many free agents that make sense for the Dodgers this offseason. Verlander makes sense, but he’s turning 40 years old. Turner makes sense but is going to take the biggest offer there is, especially if that comes from an East Coast team.
The Dodgers have been very picky with the big-name free agents they bring in, so you cannot blame them for potentially playing the long game with Ohtani.
This is also a great excuse to give the young talent a run at the big-league level. That might not get the juices flowing like a blockbuster trade or marquee signing, but that’s the best way to have a long window of success. Just imagine if the team never let Julio Urías, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, or Joc Pederson have a shot.
There’s still enough star power on this roster to make the Dodgers a playoff team while the young guys figure it out. This will give them a better idea of who has it, who doesn’t, and where they need to make additions/who they need to move on from.
Then they can recalibrate at the deadline, bring in an expiring star as they have before in the likes of Yu Darvish and Manny Machado, and pursue Ohtani in the winter — it’s literally the same plan the team used in the 2017-18 seasons before eventually pursuing Mookie Betts.