With Shohei Ohtani now officially a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Andrew Friedman and the front office will turn their attention to further building out a roster capable of being a World Series contender.
Of course, improving the team's starting pitching depth is at the top of the wish list. With Tony Gonsolin injured, Dustin May and Walker Buehler both coming back from serious injuries, Julio Urias out of the picture, and the status of Clayton Kershaw up in the air, this group will look a whole lot different than the one we saw start the 2023-24 season.
This piece will look at five hypothetical moves the Dodgers can make to strengthen their roster. Some would occur via trade, and others would happen through the free-agent market.
Move #1: Trade For Shane Bieber and Emmanuel Clase
There have been rumblings that Cleveland could opt to move on from both of its All-Star pitchers. Bieber is eligible for free agency after the upcoming year. Clase is in the third year of a five-year/$20 million deal. Considering how good he's been, you can make a case he's on one of the best deals in all of baseball.
Clase has accrued a combined 86 saves in the last two years. His career ERA through four years is 2.00, and he's only approaching his 26th birthday. Being able to land a premier closer at a very reasonable discount with multiple years of control is something even the Dodgers would be interested in. The addition of Clase would enable the Dodgers to use Evan Phillips, Joe Kelly, Blake Treinen, and Brusdar Graterol as set-up men. Talk about a group with some serious velocity.
Acquiring Bieber would give the Dodgers flexibility -- something the front office craves. With one year left, LA could opt to engage on an extension or let him walk after the year. While Bieber had a 3.80 ERA last year, he is a two-time All-Star at only 28 years of age. Bieber also grew up in Orange County and went to UCSB. He'd probably jump at the move to come back home.
L.A. would surely have to pony up the prospects to get two of the Guardians' premier players. Emmet Sheehan would likely be in the deal, as would Michael Busch. Cleveland may also go for one of Landon Knack or Kyle Hurt.
Move #2: Trade For Corbin Burnes and Willy Adames
Burnes is another California native with one year left on his existing contract. Over the last three years, he's been one of the National League's most impressive pitchers. A true ace in every sense of the word, he's made three straight All-Star appearances and won the 2021 Cy Young Award.
Adames doesn't hit for average. However, he slugs on average better than most shortstops. He's hit at least 24 HRs in four of the last five seasons. The 28-year-old also has one year remaining before he hits free agency.
This trade has been rumored for quite a while. It hinges on whether Milwaukee wants to go full bore into a rebuild in the post-Craig Counsell era...or if they believe themselves to be legitimate contenders.
Wisconsin native Gavin Lux would likely go the other way. Another pitching prospect — perhaps Nick Frasso or River Ryan — also would head to Milwaukee in this hypothetical deal.
Move #3: Trade For Tyler Glasnow and Randy Arozarena
In theory, the Dodgers could pull both of these moves off. There's enough prospect capital in the farm system to appease Milwaukee and Tampa Bay.
Glasnow is injury-prone. With that said, he does have elite stuff — the kind of stuff that could shut down the Braves or Phillies in October. Whether the moves have worked out or not, the Dodgers have shown zero qualms in acquiring a pitcher with a history of injuries. The 30-year-old SoCal native out of nearby Santa Clarita also has one year remaining on his deal.
While getting starting pitching is the priority, Arozarena would be a perfect fit in left field for the Dodgers. You could play him every day without worrying about a platoon situation. He's battle-tested in the playoffs, plays with terrific energy, and is the type of lightning rod the Dodgers haven't had since the days of Yasiel Puig.
Plus, Tampa Bay likely won't re-sign either to lengthy contract extensions considering the franchise's history with their players. Arozarena has one year left on his deal before being eligible for two arbitration years in a row.
Surely, the Rays would ask for pitching prospects. Ryan, Miguel Vargas, and Nick Frasso might be able to get this deal across the finish line.
Move #4: Sign Teoscar Hernandez
The 31-year-old outfielder has the versatility to play either corner spot. He's another thumper in the middle of the order, as he's clubbed at least 29 HRs in four of the last six years (including an average of 32 HRs over the last three).
From a metrics standpoint, Hernandez barrels the ball up exceptionally well. His hard-hit rate is among the best in baseball. In short, he'd be an excellent replacement as a right-handed slugger for J.D. Martinez.
In terms of fit, Hernandez would be the Dodgers' everyday left fielder. In the process, it would enable Chris Taylor to be the team's super-utility man (a role he thrives in). Additionally, Hernandez gives the lineup even more length than it already has.
A four-year/$75 million deal might be able to get the job done here.
Move #5: Sign a 1+1
What does a 1+1 mean? Well, it simply means signing a frontline starter in addition to a second starting pitcher with a proven track record.
With Ohtani now in the fold, coupled with the unrivaled history of Japanese pitchers succeeding in Dodger Blue, Yoshinobu Yamamoto will be a huge target. He fits the bill as a frontline starter without question. Based on the deferrals in Ohtani's reported deal, it appears as if the Dodgers will have the flexibility to continue splashing the cash on free agents.
Will the Dodgers want to commit over $200 million to sign Yamamoto in the wake of the $700 million owed to Ohtani? We'll see. The Mets, Yankees, and Red Sox all appear to be involved.
If not Yamamoto, Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery could be options on the free-agent market. Snell is a West Coast native with familiarity pitching in the NL West. Montgomery won't blow you away with his stuff, but he is consistent. He's also coming off a strong postseason with the Rangers.
Dylan Cease would fall under the 'ace' category, but the White Sox might be asking for the proverbial arm and a leg in return.
In terms of a secondary starting pitcher option, Lucas Giolito is a near-perfect fit. He grew up in Southern California a stone's throw from Dodger Stadium. He also fits the profile of a pitcher looking to reestablish his value after a somewhat tough 2023 season. The Dodgers are notorious for giving these arms one-year deals.
Aside from Giolito, other options could include Shota Imanaga, Jack Flaherty, Marcus Stroman, and Michael Lorenzen.2023-12-10T16:31:35Z dg43tfdfdgfd