Dodgers Rumors: LA fans won't like Shohei Ohtani backup plan in free agency

San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers / Harry How/GettyImages

UPDATE: Manny Machado just signed a massive contract extension (11 years, $350 million) with the Padres. Bummer that he's going to be a pest in the NL West for a long time, but better that he's not a Dodger, as the scales further tip in LA's favor to land Shohei Ohtani.

Los Angeles Dodgers fans have been hell bent on the organization doing anything and everything to sign Shohei Ohtani next offseason when he likely becomes a free agent (because he's certainly not signing an extension with the LA Angels).

At the moment, most would probably peg the Dodgers as the favorite before the 2023 season begins. But things change. And it's important to remember Steve Cohen has endless money to spend for the New York Mets while the San Diego Padres proved this past offseason that they're not scared to go above and beyond for a player they want (they reportedly offered $400 million to Aaron Judge).

Speaking of the Padres, they will certainly be in the market for another big-ticket free agent due to Manny Machado's opt-out situation. The slugger confirmed he will be opting out of his 10-year, $300 million contract this coming offseason, and the negotiation window closed once spring training began.

Padres owner Peter Seidler said Machado remains a priority, but reports have suggested the All-Star third baseman wants $400 million for his next long-term deal. Would the Pads be open to that? It can't be ruled out, but Cohen will also be lurking (and we're sure a few other teams might be, too). Also, would the Padres deem it more worthwhile to give Ohtani $100 million more than what Machado wants and call it a day?

Let's say there's a scenario in which somebody other than the Dodgers lands Ohtani and Machado goes through the free agency process to see what's out there. Per a report from Jorge Castillo of the LA Times (subscription required), the Dodgers could be among Machado's suitors.

Dodgers Rumors: Manny Machado back to LA in free agency?

"The Dodgers, meanwhile, will have money to spend. They are slated to have more than $66 million come off the books. Ohtani will undoubtedly be their top target. If they strike out with him, Machado could be the best hitter left on the market. The organization is 'split' on entertaining a reunion with Machado, according to a person with knowledge of the team’s thinking who is not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. Machado is said to be open to a return to Los Angeles but that’s expected; eliminating one of the league’s richest teams from the bidding isn’t good business."

Jorge Castillo of the LA Times

Machado was disliked in LA when he played 66 regular-season games and then went on a playoff run with the Dodgers back in 2018. He struck out in embarrassing fashion to lose the World Series, which was the cherry on top of concerns about his effort/hustle as well as his antics running down the first base line that got him in hot water. He then talked trash to a Dodgers fan after signing with the Padres and said San Diego would win a title before LA (whoops, that didn't happen).

The organization reportedly being "split" on a return for Machado seems about right. The fanbase is likely split, too, only because they probably don't want to go another offseason without signing a star player. Next year there's Ohtani, Machado, Ian Happ, Lucas Giolito and Aaron Nola in regard to high-level talent. You can even see the big drop-off with those five.

Machado, on paper, is an obvious "backup" plan when looking at the upcoming free agent class. But that'd be a tough sell for the front office and a good amount of fans. The Dodgers have expressed hesitance when dishing out massive long-term contracts, with Mookie Betts being the exception under Andrew Friedman. Ohtani seemed like another obvious exception because he's a two-way star with international recognition.

Bringing in Machado (at a comparable price to whatever Ohtani makes) after his 2018 stint with the team would feel more like desperation than aggression.