The Los Angeles Dodgers built a baseball megalith this offseason, signing Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Tyler Glasnow for over a combined billion dollars -- and the back end of their rotation could still use an extra Corbin Burnes if the team is feeling inspired.
Whether it's good or bad for baseball is a breathless debate for another day. It's pretty damned good for Dodgers fans, and perhaps just as delightful for Japanese baseball fans looking for a centralized American home. Rest assured, LA is now the main American outpost of the NPB, and if Emmet Sheehan, Kyle Hurt, and Landon Knack don't work out in 2023, things could get even wilder next winter.
If Andrew Friedman never lifts another finger, his rotations for 2024 and 2025 are already in the upper echelon. This season's group is fronted by Yamamoto, Glasnow and Walker Buehler, with Bobby Miller and a collection of top prospects waiting in the wings behind them. Next year's group will swap out Buehler for a recovered Ohtani. Clayton Kershaw, who prefers to go year-to-year (but might opt for month-to-month as he recovers from his injury), could even join down the stretch.
But the most important thing about this collection of names is that, for the first time ever, two front-and-center Japanese superstars agreed to join not only the same roster, but the same rotation. This hasn't occurred since Hideo Nomo and Masao Kida shared billing on the 2000 Detroit Tigers. It wasn't thought possible ... until Ohtani set as much money as he needed to aside, sliding the door open for his World Baseball Classic teammate to slip into the evacuated space. Therefore, it doesn't sound irrational for Dodgers fans to wonder if a third mega-talent, Roki Sasaki, could make it a triumvirate. It all depends on how his posting situation shakes out, as well as his comfort with such an unconventional spotlight.
Dodgers could sign Roki Sasaki to complete Japanese rotation
Sasaki's timeline for arrival is currently completely unsettled. The potential future ace -- who actually gobbled most of Yamamoto's hype before receding into the shadows a bit -- demanded to be posted this year a few weeks back, but his request was unsurprisingly denied. His current NPB team won't receive monstrous financial incentives upon his departure until the winter of 2026, leaving them less than motivated to let him bolt early. There's a shot, though, that he might have an opt-out clause that allows him to leave whenever he decides, as has previously been speculated about. If he bolts sooner, he'll be treated like Ohtani back in 2017, subjected to league-minimum contracts initially.
In essence, if he does leave next winter, it might be out of desperation to join the star-studded Dodgers, who could snap him up for far cheaper than what he'd cost when the time is theoretically "right."
At this moment, any Sasaki link to the Dodgers is pure speculation; the author of 17 consecutive perfect innings is still property of the Chiba Lotte Marines. If he wants to blaze his own MLB trail, he may do so, and he might have to wait until 2027. But, if he wants to be a part of the action sooner, he could arrive (in Dodger Blue?) at a significant discount.