The Los Angeles Dodgers clearly intended to kill two free-agent birds with one stone by signing Shohei Ohtani this offseason, a convenient catch-all for a team with a flawed rotation and lineup in need of lengthening.
Unfortunately, that plan will not work, through no fault of Andrew Friedman's. Ohtani will not pitch in 2024 as he recuperates from elbow surgery, and while all parties seem optimistic about the one-of-a-kind marvel's chances of returning to two-way work in 2025, this isn't his first procedure on that tricky area. Ohtani returning to an ace level in '25 would be a long-term salve for the Dodgers. Unfortunately, they can't exactly count on that, his 2024 is a blank space, and his price tag isn't declining.
On that last point, though ... the Dodgers are the Dodgers. Why should they be scared of paying a generational talent $500 million? And why should they let such a deal preclude them from also paying a supplementary ace $200 million more? Adding both Ohtani and Japanese starter Yoshinobu Yamamoto this offseason would seem to be a pretty effective, albeit expensive, way of patching over the balky elbow of the face of baseball.
According to MLB insider Robert Murray, though, it's not happening. The Mets, Yankees and Giants are all hotter on Yamamoto's trail than the Dodgers -- and, besides, tradition might be keeping the two players apart.
Dodgers Rumors: Ohtani, Yamamoto package won't happen in LA
As Murray's heard it, Ohtani and Yamamoto are friendly, but he suspects they wouldn't want to share the same locker room.
At the 23:22 mark of Monday's episode of the Baseball Insiders, Murray addressed the possibility with the context he's heard in conversations around the league:
"I don't expect those guys to sign with the same team," Murray stated. "I'm gonna leave it at that. I don't expect that at all." When a fan's comment appeared on the screen asking if the Japanese tradition of not wanting to share a locker room was at play here, Murray seemed to suggest as much.
That doesn't seem to be a problem for Yamamoto and Kodai Senga, though. Per The Athletic, Senga is actively recruiting the righty to the Mets, and the 25-year-old free agent craves the big-city experience. If the Mets end up with a two-pronged rotation solution, that'll be infuriating enough. As long as nobody ends up with Ohtani/Yamamoto, though, Dodgers fans might just have to grin and bear it (while hoping Jordan Montgomery saunters through those double doors instead).