With Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and their eyes firmly on Roki Sasaki's future, the Dodgers have established themselves as the place to be for Japanese professional players who come over to MLB. The Dodgers' massive investment in Ohtani started to pay off immediately, when his Dodgers' jersey smashed sale records in its first 48 hours of being available for pre-order.
The frenzy for baseball in Japan is real, and the Dodgers know it. The amount of advertising money they'll make with Japanese companies is another plus to signing Ohtani and Yamamoto and will help recoup the over $1 billion they represent in the Dodgers' pledged dollars.
Only three other teams have signed NPB players this offseason; the Cubs just signed starter Shōta Imanaga, the Rays added Naoyuki Uwasawa on a buzzer-beating minor-league deal, and the division rival Padres signed reliever Yuki Matsui just a few days before Christmas. Matsui briefly chimed in on the Dodgers craze that's taken over Japan, citing it as a motivating factor in performing well for the Padres.
Dodgers are already rattling Padres’ Yuki Matsui after huge offseason additions
Outside of signing Matsui and trading away Juan Soto for a few good arms, the Padres have done little to nothing this offseason to make them seem like vastly different team going into the 2024 season. Their outfield depth remains almost completely non-existent, they have yet to make up for the loss of Blake Snell, and they haven't even found a backup catcher yet.
While Matsui's professed intention to do his best work to help the Padres beat the Dodgers is admirable, unless the Padres can really get themselves together while the clock ticks down toward Opening Day, it doesn't seem very likely that San Diego will come out on top of even the Diamondbacks, who are having themselves a decent offseason over in Phoenix after sprinting to the World Series a few years ahead of schedule.
The Dodgers are a juggernaut, and at this point everyone else in the division just scrambling to keep up. Any individual match-ups between Ohtani and Matsui will probably be fun to watch, but in a grander scheme of things, the Padres don't seem like they'll stand a chance.