Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers are in a pivotal offseason with multiple needs on their roster while coming off consecutive eliminations in the National League Division Series and three straight years of postseason failures.
Although starting pitching may very well be their biggest need and will be a focus for Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, there’s a unicorn available to sign that should take priority over everything.
That unicorn is, of course, the two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani, who is on the free agent market after six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels.
The Dodgers have long been rumored to covet Ohtani, just like every team should, but they also appear to be the best fit for him as well, which may ultimately play into their favor.
The consensus around Ohtani is that he will end up in L.A., which was echoed by Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic, who took it a step further to emphasize the Dodgers’ need for Ohtani as well during an appearance on “Foul Territory”:
“The Dodgers, I still believe, are the favorites for Ohtani. And beyond that, I actually believe they need Ohtani. And you can say, ‘Ken, every team needs Ohtani, that’s a ridiculous statement.’ But the Dodgers are in a place where they’ve won all these division titles, they’ve had all these postseason appearances, yet the only World Series they won was in the shortened 2020 season. And it seems to me that a portion of the fan base, I don’t know what percentage, is kind of bored and kind of needs some sizzle.
“And listen, I know Ohtani can’t pitch next season and their biggest need is starting pitching. Guess what? You can sign Ohtani and you can sign two starting pitchers too and then you’ll have Ohtani to pitch hopefully when he returns from his second Tommy John surgery. So I still see them as being a force in the division and a force for Ohtani.”
Although Ohtani’s ulnar collateral ligament injury puts a slight strain on how perfect of a fit he would’ve been for the Dodgers, they are also an organization that has never shied away from giving contracts to rehabbing pitchers. But with Ohtani, they also get an MVP-caliber designated hitter as well.
And even despite Ohtani’s UCL injury, the Dodgers reportedly remain plenty interested in signing the 29-year-old.
Ohtani already has one American League MVP to his name, and likely is adding another later this month. He additionally has won Rookie of the Year, a Silver Slugger, Player of the Year and earned three All-Star Game selections, but the one thing Ohtani has yet to do is play in the postseason.
Ohtani is on record saying he’s going to prioritize being part of a winning team with his next contract, and there’s no club better at consistently reaching the postseason than the Dodgers.
Shohei Ohtani won Players Choice Award
Ohtani was named the AL Outstanding Player for 2023, as voted on by his peers.
In 135 games, he recorded 44 home runs, 95 RBIs, and 78 extra base hits, and led the Majors in slugging (.654), OPS (1.066), and bWAR (10.0).
On the mound, Ohtani finished 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA and 167 strikeouts in 132 innings, and his 31.5% strikeout rate ranked second in the AL.
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