The Dodgers are a runaway freight train this offseason. They've spent over a billion dollars on signings with no signs of stopping. Even when they make trades, they've turned around to turn them into multimillion dollar extensions. Clearly, the team has no regard for the luxury tax, but at this point all that means for fans is a thrilling 2024 season in store.
It's hard to believe that there's still a ways to go to fortify the Dodgers, even against the upstart Diamondbacks in their own division, but nobody's done yet. The rotation still needs work, given Walker Buehler's dubious return date in 2024, Dustin May's even more dubious return date, and the likelihood that Tony Gonsolin won't pitch at all this year. The Dodgers have shown interest in trade candidates Corbin Burnes and Dylan Cease, though talk has stopped and started multiple times since the beginning of the offseason.
There's yet another trade piece LA could be eyeing in the Central divisions, though: the Guardians' Shane Bieber. Bieber trade talk has been much more vague than the hum surrounding Burnes and Cease, but the Dodgers have reportedly still checked in on him.
Dodgers Rumors: LA chasing All-Star pitcher who’s less likely to be traded?
Check-ins on Bieber were first reported in late November, with the Reds and Cubs showing the most interest. Shortly thereafter, he was reported to be open to an extension following a trade, which is good news for the Dodgers, who promptly locked up Tyler Glasnow for five years following his arrival from the Rays. If trading, then extending really is LA's MO this offseason, Bieber could be perfect for them.
He struggled more in 2023 than he has in the five years since his rookie season, but he by no means demonstrated a severe decline in performance. The dip — a 3.80 ERA, up from 2.88 in 2022 — could be the result of elbow issues that also kept him at 128 innings in 2023, as opposed to 200 in 2022. If Bieber can stay healthy, he could potentially give the Dodgers even more time than the half-decade Glasnow is set for. Even without an extension, he could fill in for one of Buehler, May, and Gonsolin's absences for a year before he hits free agency and one or more of those pitchers can return to LA. Of course, that elbow remains a lingering concern over the whole process.
The Dodgers haven't expressed interest in Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery, who sit atop the free agent market now that Yoshinobu Yamamoto has been claimed. Burnes and Cease seem to be more distant possibilities now, so making a run at Bieber could be the way to go. The Dodgers are looking for top-shelf talent and don't seem to be interested in any less; Bieber could be the answer if the Guardians are willing to part with him.