Though the Los Angeles Dodgers typically have one of the highest payrolls in the sport, it hasn't exactly translated to spending big ... or spending correctly. Mookie Betts, Clayton Kershaw and Freddie Freeman were incredible investments, but you don't really need a baseball operations department to determine that for you.
The problem has been the short-term investments the Dodgers have made. And the outside free agents they've targeted (or, in this case, didn't target). This offseason, the constant chatter is around the Dodgers landing the most expensive name in history, Shohei Ohtani. But what at all suggests Friedman will make it happen?
The only evidence we have is the Dodgers spending their money on ironclad assets. There's hardly any risk involved with Friedman ... unless you want to count his clear miscalculation and misread on Trevor Bauer.
Either way, we'll get to the point. Ohtani, Blake Snell, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Aaron Nola, Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery and Eduardo Rodriguez will headline the class of free agent pitchers this year. You could argue all of those names are in line for $100 million contracts. At the very least, 80% of them will be.
That creates a problem for the Dodgers, who, over the last decade, have barely spent on pitching in free agency. While they certainly have had reason not to because of all the talent they developed, in addition to the flyer free agents they turned around, there's no reason to continue this trend, as the pitching staff is at rock bottom right now.
Andrew Friedman must stop troubling Dodgers trend this offseason: Not spending on pitching
Jack Harris of the LA Times (subscription required) outlined the Dodgers' upcoming offseason and added this tidbit in there, which was genuinely shocking to comprehend.
"Given the Dodgers’ conservative track record with free-agent arms (Trevor Bauer is the only free-agent pitcher in Friedman’s tenure that L.A. has given more than $50 million guaranteed), it seems likely that Snell and Nola would fetch bigger offers elsewhere."- Jack Harris, LA Times
Bauer was the only pitcher who got more than $50 million guaranteed from the Dodgers! Starting pitching is the most expensive product on the market annually, and the filthy rich Dodgers have opted to pretty much avoid the market entirely, which now answers our questions about the front office previously avoiding players like Zack Wheeler, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Kevin Gausman, Kodai Senga, and countless others since 2015.
Do the Dodgers need to be throwing around $200 million contracts to appease fans every offseason? Absolutely not. But a $120 million deal for Wheeler? $60 million for Verlander? $110 million for Gausman? $75 million for Senga? The "bargain" high-priced free agent deals were, once upon a time, right in front of the Dodgers, but they prioritized less reliable names and deteriorating depth, for whatever reason.
So, yeah, that's why we're thinking if Snell's projected $122 million contract has any veracity behind it, Friedman needs to sign him immediately and then add another blockbuster option after saving on the first one, because 2024 will be another lost season if the rotation resembles the 2023 version.