As much as Los Angeles Dodgers fans would love for all of the links to Shohei Ohtani to be a foregone conclusion they'll sign him, that's no way to live. Baseball's offseason is as unpredictable as it gets, and there's been another update on the Ohtani sweepstakes that's keeping everybody on their toes.
Per MLB's most trusted insider Jeff Passan, expecting Ohtani to sign with the Dodgers is "perhaps presumptive," especially when considering Ohtani previously "expressing affinity" for the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox (in addition to LA, of course).
The Rangers are coming off a World Series win and have among the best championship infrastructures at the moment. The Red Sox are an historic franchise in a city that's also home to New Balance headquarters (Ohtani is said to have a good relationship with the brand's CEO). Plausible reasons exist for Ohtani to sign elsewhere.
With the Dodgers dealing with what some might call a 40-man roster mess, Ohtani alone won't be the panacea. He can't pitch in 2024 and the Dodgers' offense isn't the problem, for the most part. Yes, the clutch/situational hitting is a concern come October, but this was the league's second-best group of bats in 2023.
In a best-case scenario, the Dodgers add Ohtani and make a number of other trades to supplement the roster around him to better prepare for 2024. Worst case? The Dodgers learn before the Winter Meetings that they won't be the landing spot for the AL MVP and they have to scramble to make up for it. But as long as they're prepared to do so, watching Ohtani bolt for an AL team won't be a death knell.
3 Shohei Ohtani backup plans Dodgers need to have ready after latest rumors
Disclaimer -- the Dodgers need to make at least two of these three moves (and one of them should accompany an Ohtani addition as well).
Sign Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery/Eduardo Rodriguez
Blake Snell is a certified Cy Young arm. He's won the award in both leagues since debuting in 2016 and is ready for his first real payday (the Rays extended him and he was never able to hit free agency). He's coming off another Cy Young season and is entering his age-31 campaign. The Dodgers don't like dishing out these types of contracts, but they have little choice with their veteran window.
And one lefty won't be enough! Julio Urias is gone. Clayton Kershaw is out until the middle of the season (if he returns). The pitching staff is Bobby Miller, Walker Buehler and a bunch of question marks (Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin are out for 2024, too). That means either Jordan Montgomery, fresh off a World Series win, or Eduardo Rodriguez, who spurned LA at the trade deadline, need to accompany Snell to deepen the rotation.
Montgomery is riding high and will also be acquired at his highest value, but that's what the big-market teams are for. Rodriguez, as frustrating as his behavior was at the deadline, did not place any geographical restrictions on his free agency destinations.
And with Buehler a free agent after 2024, the Dodgers need a whole lot more stability than just Miller. We'd lean Snell + Monty combo, with E-Rod as the consolation prize.