The Los Angeles Dodgers' 2023 appears to be in peril and their grand plans for the coming offseason have been drastically interrupted. This season was shaping up to be a pleasant surprise, while expectations heading into 2024 were going to be at an all-time high.
Not so much anymore. The Dodgers' pitching staff is decimated, leading some to believe it'll be hard for them to escape any opponent in the NLDS. And if they make it to the NLCS, do they even have enough starters to get through the series?
As for the offseason, Julio Urías isn't coming back, so you can etch that in stone right now. Prized target Shohei Ohtani could miss all of 2024 but, at the very least, won't be pitching, after it was revealed he suffered a partially torn UCL at the end of August.
An investment in Ohtani would still be smart (and is expected), but it doesn't necessarily give the Dodgers what they need to be a behemoth contender in 2024. They were ready to get Ohtani's starts and cleanup at-bats as a dual asset. Now, it's hard to discern what the front office is thinking about the potential $500-$600 million investment that won't have a chance of providing its full scope of value until 2025 at the earliest.
The Ohtani free agency sweepstakes is starting to come into focus, too. The Dodgers are in there alongside four other big market clubs that have a legitimate argument. So what if the Dodgers lose the bidding? Or what if they bow out if the price exits their comfort range? Could Ohtani's teammate Mike Trout be a contingency plan?
Should Mike Trout rumor intrigue Dodgers with difficult upcoming offseason?
Per the latest buzz, the Angels would be open to trading Mike Trout if he indicated he wanted to leave. At this point ... why wouldn't he? Ohtani is about to depart. The Angels continue to try and make things better but their attempts constantly backfire. His MLB career is not going to achieve further notoriety if he continues to waste away in Anaheim.
Trout needs a playoff resume, at the very least. He very much needs a World Series to be further cemented as a legend of the game. It's not happening with the Halos. And with the Dodgers seemingly in need of a potential pivot plan, should they consider a trade for Trout?
The three-time MVP has seven years and ~$260 million remaining on his historic 12-year, $426.5 million extension he signed years back. His hits against the luxury tax through the 2030 season will exceed $37 million annually.
In theory, the Dodgers could make this work. Trout in center, Mookie Betts in right and James Outman in left. That's a full starting outfield with some potent bats. But that's a payroll-clogging salary for an aging player who has nearly been off the field more than he's been on it since the start of the 2021 season (237 games played out of a possible 467). He intends to play again this season, but there wouldn't be much value in that (which would then take the total to 237 games played out of a possible 486).
For those out there who might think Ohtani is a risk because of his second potential Tommy John surgery since 2018, Trout, who's entering his age-32 season next year, is breaking down. In fact, he hasn't played in more than 140 games since 2016.
This wouldn't be a fatal offseason adjustment for the Dodgers, but it probably wouldn't be the most promising, either. If there's a favorable situation where the Angels eat some money and the Dodgers can limit the prospect haul going to Anaheim, then it's probably worth exploring, but at face value, this wouldn't necessarily elevate the Dodgers to new heights since their biggest need at the moment is pitching.