Grading Dodgers' billion-dollar signings based on early season performance

Los Angeles Dodgers v Chicago Cubs
Los Angeles Dodgers v Chicago Cubs / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Dodgers' historic offseason is now a thing of the past as the team gets to work on reaching their ultimate goal. In pursuit of a championship, the club spent over a billion dollars this winter on players like Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow, Teoscar Hernández, and James Paxton. The Dodgers are a team that is faced with high expectations every year, but this season, the bar got moved to a whole new level. 

During that time, all anyone could do was speculate about how this revamped Dodgers team would perform. But now, with nearly two months since Opening Day, we have a decent sample size of these players and the impact that they have had. It feels like an appropriate time to grade these offseason acquisitions that created such a historic offseason for the Dodgers.

Re-Grading Dodgers' Billion Dollar Offseason

Shohei Ohtani

The Dodgers offseason in 2022 was rather quiet by their standards, as they were looking ahead to 2023, when Shohei Ohtani planned to enter free agency. Luckily, Arte Moreno didn't disappoint, and everything went ahead as previously scheduled.

Despite Ohtani undergoing surgery that meant the two-way star wouldn’t be pitching at all this year, the Dodgers didn’t veer away from their master plan. They signed Ohtani to a $700 million deal where, at least for one season, he would only play as a DH.

Is he still worth that much money? Well, as it turns out, yes, he is. It seems that without having to focus on pitching as well as hitting, the latter skill has taken a big leap. Ohtani has a very strong case for being the best hitter in baseball. He is currently slashing .356/.425/.655 with an OPS of 1.080 and 13 home runs. He has also stolen 13 bases, which means he is on pace to beat his career high of 26, seemingly another benefit of him not worrying about pitching. 

Ohtani is still an MVP candidate as just a pure hitter, and has brought so much to the Dodgers on and off the field.

Grade: A+

Yoshinobu Yamamoto

After the Dodgers signed Shohei Ohtani, they then had their eyes on top international free agent Yoshinobu Yamamoto, whom they eventually brought in on a $325 million contract. Outside of a very rough debut in South Korea against the San Diego Padres, Yamamoto has been excellent. 

Yes, it’s easy to cherrypick stats and take away the one horrible start, but it truly feels fair, as it was his first MLB start under strange travel circumstances. Regardless, he’s played well for a long enough time, and now his once-ballooned ERA has dropped to 3.17 alongside a WHIP of 1.06.

It seems that Yamamoto has only gotten better and better, so we have no reason to believe he won’t continue to do so.

Grade: A-

Tyler Glasnow

While Tyler Glasnow was traded for and not signed out of the free agent pool, he immediately signed a five-year, $136 million extension to add to the Dodgers' offseason expenditure. When Glasnow is healthy, he has always been an elite pitcher, so the Dodgers were really banking on his ability to stay active. So far, it has worked out for both sides, as Glasnow got paid, has been performing extremely well, and has stayed healthy.

Glasnow holds a sub-three ERA at 2.90 and is one of the best strikeout starters in MLB, piling up 81 Ks in 61 innings pitched. The Dodgers traded for Glasnow before signing Yamamoto, but obviously were hoping for both to join the roster. The club needed a bonafide ace due to all the injuries on the pitching staff, and since Yamamoto wasn’t a guarantee, Glasnow filled that role. Now, it looks like the Dodgers could have acquired two aces in a matter of weeks.

Grade: A

Teoscar Hernández

The Dodgers were looking for a right-handed outfield bat who could mash against lefties, and well, Teoscar Hernández was available, so why not? They signed him to a one-year contract for $23.5 million to do just that.

Hernández, against left handed pitchers this year, has 57 plate appearances and is slashing .291/.316/.600 with an OPS of .916 and five home runs. Against right-handed pitchers, his slash line is .223/.299/.403 with an OPS of .702 and six home runs in 155 plate appearances. So he is doing what the Dodgers wanted from him, but you would like to see an improvement against righties, given that the majority of MLB pitchers are not southpaws.

The downside with Hernández is how often he strikes out. He tends to swing for power, which causes a lot of swings and misses. However, Hernández has also been fairly good on defense. Despite not having the most range, his arm value is in the 98th percentile in all of baseball. It’s a nice bonus to be had from a guy known for his bat. 

Grade: B

James Paxton

As mentioned earlier, the Dodgers needed to get some arms in their rotation as they dealt with injuries and uncertainty. Due to that, they went out and signed James Paxton to a one-year $7 million deal, which is starting to look like a bargain.

Paxton currently has an ERA of 2.84 in 44.1 innings pitched. Those are solid numbers for a guy who was brought in as more of a bandaid. Paxton, though, like Glasnow, struggles to stay healthy, and at the age of 35, he could be more prone to wear and tear as the season goes on. If that does happen, the Dodgers do have reinforcements on the way

Everything Paxton has done this season should be seen as a massive bonus to what he can hopefully provide later on in the season when the Dodgers get to full strength.

Grade: B+