The St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies got free agency started last month with a number of pitching deals. Philly re-signed Aaron Nola to a seven-year, $172 million contract, while the Cards added Kyle Gibson (one year, $12 million), Lance Lynn (one year, $11 million) and Sonny Gray (three years, $75 million).
Many were wondering where the pitching starved Los Angeles Dodgers were when this all went down. They let Lynn go, so the burly right-hander signing elsewhere wasn't a surprise, but what about a top-notch clubhouse guy and innings-eater like Gibson on a one-year deal? Or an ace-type like Gray on a short-term, easily digestible $25 million AAV?
Those seems like they were right up the Dodgers' alley based on the previous contracts given to Tyler Anderson (one year, $8 million), Andrew Heaney (one year, $8.5 million) and Trevor Bauer (three years, $102 million) in recent seasons.
Not to mention, the Dodgers aren't really afforded much time this offseason. While they waited on Shohei Ohtani (which...phew), the likelihood of them losing footing on other big-name free agents rose. Eduardo Rodriguez is already gone after spending weeks lurking. Literally, he was just ... wandering around the Winter Meetings. Kinda weird, actually.
Ohtani does plenty -- PLENTY -- for this team. But he won't pitch in 2024. 2025? Ask him. Only he knows.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto remains in the Dodgers' sights, but that's still not enough. Truth be told, LA needs a couple of veteran arms on shorter-term deals to get through 2024 and preserve the financial outlook they've worked so hard to maintain.
Andrew Friedman's comments on free agent pitching deals has Dodgers fans confused
So where were the Dodgers when the Cardinals went on their spree? And what about Nola? Weren't they in on him?
Andrew Friedman spoke to the media (subscription required) at the Winter Meetings and had some confusing comments about the November pitching deals that went down.
"They enter having signed three free agents already this winter (Ricky Vanasco, Jason Heyward, Joe Kelly), though all were on the Dodgers’ 2023 roster. Their paths toward Ohtani and Yamamoto did not prevent the Dodgers from addressing their pitching needs by pursuing starters like Aaron Nola and Kyle Gibson, though Friedman (without saying names) implied the deals those pitchers signed didn’t fit the Dodgers’ evaluation. Lucas Giolito, a SoCal native, has been linked to them.- Fabian Ardaya, The Athletic
'They’re not things that we personally would have done,' Friedman said of those November deals for pitching. 'But that’s what makes the world go ‘round.'"
Sir ... those are the exact deals you would have personally done? That you've done in the recent past? The deals you don't personally do are the four-year-or-more pacts that feature hefty AAVs. Unless there's been a complete 180 in philosophy, the fans know exactly what you're aiming for in free agency.
That leaves room for concern because the remaining capable pitchers (Yamamoto, Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery) are all getting at least four years and $20+ million per season, otherwise known as Rodriguez's contract with the Diamondbacks. The trade market is as competitive as it gets, with names like Corbin Burnes, Tyler Glasnow, Dylan Cease and Shane Bieber garnering interest from countless contenders. So where's the Dodgers' avenue? What have they been waiting for? What deals are the ones they will personally sign off on?
Makes you wonder about the rumored $165 million offer to Nola. Did that ever happen? If the Dodgers weren't serious on him, then what're the odds they're serious on anybody beyond Yamamoto/Snell when you take into account body of work?
It could all be a smokescreen, but the Dodgers' moves thus far (Jason Heyward, Ricky Vanasco, Joe Kelly, Mookie Betts position change) inspire almost no confidence that the status quo will change in 2024.