Shohei Ohtani Rumors: Dodgers Remain Interested Despite UCL Injury

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The Los Angeles Dodgers have long been mentioned in Shohei Ohtani rumors, whether it be over the last two seasons amid trade speculation or with his impending free agency this winter.

Of course, the Dodgers were among the teams Ohtani met with prior to signing with the Los Angeles Angels before the 2018 season. The decision at the time was a surprise, but Ohtani explained he formed a strong bond with the Angels during meetings and was pleased with a plan to continue his career as a two-way player.

Now that MLB has implemented a universal designated hitter, the Dodgers are among multiple National League teams who figure to be in the market for Ohtani, whose outlook next season changed in light of having a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow.

Despite the injury presumably preventing him from pitching during the 2024 season, the Dodgers unsurprisingly are said to have interest in signing Ohtani, according to Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times:

Ohtani has a torn ulnar collateral ligament and is unlikely to pitch next year, but the Dodgers remain interested in pursuing him this offseason, according to people familiar with the team’s thinking who spoke under the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the subject.

When then Angels superstar briefly was the subject of trade calls ahead of the August 1 deadline, the Dodgers were presumed to have held interest. With that come conflicting reports over whether or not Angels owner Arte Moreno would be willing to trade Ohtani to the Dodgers.

Ultimately, the Angels became buyers at the trade deadline, a decision perceived to have been an early free agency pitch for Ohtani. But as their postseason hopes faded one month later, the team reversed course and put Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo López, Matt Moore, Dominic Leone, Hunter Renfroe and Randal Grichuk on waivers.

Giolito, López, Moore, Leone and Renfroe were all claimed off waivers from the Angels. Giolito, López and Moore remained teammates as they were each claimed by the Cleveland Guardians. Renfroe went to the Cincinnati Reds and Leone is now with the Seattle Mariners.

How Shohei Ohtani injury impacts Dodgers

Even with the torn UCL in his right elbow, Ohtani remains a productive hitter at the plate and capable of making regular starts as the DH.

However, the Dodgers face a need for starting pitching next season, particularly with Clayton Kershaw’s recent struggles and the potential he is not re-signed, and Julio Urías’ career being thrown into doubt after getting arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence.

Signing Ohtani would further enhance the Dodgers’ lineup, but if he requires Tommy John surgery and is unable to pitch next season, L.A. still would need to address their starting rotation with a frontline option.

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