Entering a pivotal offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers seem poised to lose Julio Urías, and will be waiting quite a while for Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May to get right. Even if Clayton Kershaw returns, he most likely won't be the Clayton Kershaw the team has been able to rely on for so long. Any way you slice it, this rotation has numerous vacancies, with Lance Lynn's hefty (and likely declined) option serving as the final backbreaker following his dismal playoff showing.
Yet, somehow, the Dodgers have barely been connected to Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the potential best rotation option on the market at a likely $200 million earner.
One must wonder whether the Dodgers' perceived lack of interest emanates from the Japanese custom that, typically, stars who join MLB franchises do so alone rather than share the locker room. Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima teamed up on the Red Sox. Kodai Senga hopes to lure Yamamoto to the Mets, and has insinuated such a thing won't be a problem. Boston, no doubt, wants to use Masataka Yoshida as a link to other upcoming free agents. But, with Shohei Ohtani squarely in the Dodgers' sights, one can't help but think about this potential complication.
If Ohtani has an issue with sharing the locker room, that should end any additional Dodgers forays into the Japanese market. He is, and should be, priority No. 1. But, if that's not the issue at hand, Los Angeles should consider pursuing Shōta Imanaga, the 30-year-old left-hander who will not command a Yamamoto-like contract, but actually exceeded the 25-year-old righty in "stuff" metrics during World Baseball Classic competition.
Dodgers Pitching Target in Free Agency: Shōta Imanaga
Beyond the obvious potential Ohtani complications, the main issue standing in the way of an Imanaga pursuit by the Dodgers is the sheer amount of competition. The pitching market is poised to be ravaged by several hungry top teams this offseason, and it seems safe to expect the Cardinals to budge into this conversation; they were one of seven clubs that scouted Imanaga in person this past summer.
While Yamamoto will eternally remain a sexier option, the Dodgers could use a durable left-hander who's experienced in international competition and just so happens to cost $150 million less. In fact, they could use anybody. If this isn't a fit, LA will need to move onto the next quickly.