Dodgers Rumors: WBC champion Japanese starter emerges as new target for LA

Los Angeles' search for pitching will go far and wide.

World Baseball Classic Championship: United States v Japan
World Baseball Classic Championship: United States v Japan / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Dodgers have to find controllable starting pitching this offseason. In fact, if they could find it by Sept. 10, they would, but considering all trade and waiver deadlines have already expired (thanks for blocking, Guardians!), it's going to have to wait until the winter.

Clayton Kershaw's shoulder is balking, as he continues to navigate the market annually on one-year pacts. Julio Urías no longer merits a mention in this conversation, due to his own pre-free agency actions. Lance Lynn's option doesn't feel comfortable anymore. How many sophomores in the projected 2024 rotation is too many?

Expect the Dodgers' search to go far and wide. Once upon a time (two weeks ago), it might've begun and ended with Shohei Ohtani. That time has passed.

Now, the Dodgers should be in on any number of options. From Eduardo Rodriguez, whose no-trade clause will have expired, to Blake Snell to Mitch Keller via trade, Los Angeles' braintrust knows exactly what it needs to improve. The search should extend to the Far East, too, where Yoshinobu Yamamoto is seen as this offseason's prize Japanese import. The Dodgers will definitely be eating at 'nobu, but reportedly won't stop their overseas scouting there.

According to MLB insider Jon Morosi, lefty Shōta Imanaga, who started the World Baseball Classic final against Team USA eventually closed by Ohtani (foreshadowing as he pulls a Smoltz during his recovery, perhaps?), will be posted this offseason. The Dodgers are, predictably, seen as a possible landing spot.

Dodgers, Yankees, Cardinals to battle for Shōta Imanaga?

Yes, as we theorized a few weeks ago, the Cardinals do not intend to descend into nothingness. Their goal is still to compete in 2024, powered by their burgeoning young offense packed with outfielders. They will certainly be in the pitching market alongside the Dodgers this offseason.

The Yankees? With Jasson Dominguez patrolling center field, they don't seem quite so dead to the world, either. Josh Donaldson's salary finally comes off the books this winter, as do Harrison Bader's, Isiah Kiner-Falefa's, and Luis Severino's. New York will be players, too.

The Dodgers won't be the only team with perked-up ears every time a new pitcher is dangled, but they certainly have a solid argument to be the most appealing landing spot. Even with a patchwork rotation, they seem poised for a deep October run. Their deep pockets have long made them the favorites for Ohtani. Imanaga, freshly 30, isn't in that stratosphere, but is coming off another excellent season for the Yokohama BayStars, where he's teammates with (sigh) Trevor Bauer.

Hopefully, that doesn't sway the Dodgers away from pursuing a pitcher who just posted a 2.64 ERA in 139 total innings this season, while striking out 166. He isn't an unabashed workhorse, but LA can't scoff at any potential innings-eater, and the franchise has had plenty of success plumbing the Japanese market, all the way back to Hideo Nomo.

When an MLB insider tells you the Dodgers are a favorite to sign a Japanese pitcher, you'd better listen.