The Los Angeles Dodgers fell one game short of their goal in 2017, as despite winning a Los Angeles-record 104 games and reaching their first World Series since 1988, they were defeated by the Houston Astros in seven games in the Fall Classic.
The Dodgers return most of their nucleus in 2018, but as is always the case, the front office will look for ways to improve the roster.
Los Angeles has been linked to perhaps the two biggest names involved in rumors this offseason: reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton and Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani.
The Miami Marlins new ownership group is shopping Stanton because of their desire to cut payroll, and while the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals have pursued him the most, Stanton holds a full no-trade clause and ideally would like to play for his hometown Dodgers.
Due to their desire to get under the luxury tax threshold, the Dodgers have not pursued Stanton that hard yet, but that could change any minute, especially if Stanton comes out and says he would only approve a trade to the Dodgers.
Ohtani was recently posted by his Japanese team the Nippon-Ham Fighters and quickly narrowed his list down to seven teams, with the Dodgers being one of them. The two-way player has already met with all seven teams and is now deciding on which to sign with.
Both players would make a huge impact on the Dodgers, and with Los Angeles being linked to both, in this week’s roundtable the Dodger Blue staff decided to debate which one the Dodgers are more likely to land:
Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015):
I think the most-likely scenario for the Dodgers is they trade for Giancarlo Stanton. I know there are concerns over his remaining salary, but in my estimation, there’s too much of a guessing game with Shohei Ohtani.
Reports have identified his preferences are to play on the West Coast, in a smaller market, and on a team that doesn’t already have a Japanese star. The Dodgers only check one of those boxes. The fact of the matter is, there are too many unknowns with Ohtani. The Dodgers could “do everything right” and still see him sign with another club.
Whereas with Stanton, there seems to be a clear desire to be traded to the Dodgers. His no-trade clause can force the Marlins in that direction. While their reported interest has been tepid thus far, you have to believe Andrew Friedman and Co. are going to get more involved at some point.
Jeff Spiegel (@JeffSpiegel):
Talk about a mystery subject! In classic Hot Stove fashion, the destination of both Stanton and Ohtani seem like complete mysteries. If I had to guess, it sure seems like the Stanton-to-LA rumors have been gaining steam, which I suppose gives that side the advantage only because nobody seems to have any clue what Ohtani will do (as evidenced by the fact that the ‘frontrunners’, the New York Yankees, didn’t even make his top seven).
I’ve said all along that if the Dodgers wanted Stanton and could make that clear, they would get him — and it sure seems like everyone involved thinks the Dodgers are interested.
The longer this drags on, I think the more it plays into LA’s favor. I honestly wonder whether they’re waiting to see what Ohtani does — I think if he chooses a different team, then maybe the steam picks up with Stanton.
Matt Borelli (@MattDodgerBlue):
I think the more likely scenario is that the Dodgers trade for Stanton, as surreal as that sounds.
The reigning National League MVP holds all power in any potential deal because of his no-trade clause. His market is limited to three teams, so the Marlins are prioritizing shedding most of his record-contract rather than seeking an elite prospect haul.
Miami has already agreed to potential deals with both the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals, two clubs that personally met with Stanton last week. But the local product hasn’t accepted an offer yet, presumably because he’s holding out for the Dodgers to get involved.
Los Angeles can afford to be patient in this process. The longer Stanton prolongs his decision, the more likely San Francisco and St. Louis will drop out of the sweepstakes and pursue other options. That’s when the Dodgers can then force the Marlins to accept a lesser deal, being the last team standing.
Ohtani is much more affordable compared to Stanton, as he’ll essentially make the minimum salary next season, but reports suggest he’s looking to sign with a small market team. That being said, the San Diego Padres seem like the best fit given the criteria, not to mention all of their front office ties to the Japanese star.
Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand):
I think the Dodgers are waiting for a resolution on Ohtani before they begin their pursuit of Stanton, as ideally, they can sign Ohtani for a lot less money and still get outfield production out of him in addition to pitching, which would lessen the need for adding someone of Stanton’s caliber.
But the difference here is that if the Dodgers want Stanton, he could be wearing a Dodger hat in about an hour. With Ohtani, the Dodgers are just one of seven finalists and have absolutely no say in who he chooses other than the pitch they made to him and his representatives.
Ohtani is said to want to play for a small market team that does not already have a Japanese star, which does not bode well for the Dodgers. Also, the Dodgers only have $300,000 to offer him while other teams can offer him north of $2 million.
So I think that ultimately the Dodgers will miss out on Ohtani, and then likely turn to Stanton if they can figure out their financials to make a deal work.
Eric Avakian (@AvakEric):
Although the Los Angeles Dodgers are capable of having the highest payroll in all of Major League Baseball, it is evident that this front office group aren’t in favor of reckless spending as there are some serious penalties for going over the luxury tax once again.
Keeping that in mind, I believe the more likely outcome is going after Shohei Ohtani. From their perspective, the deal involving Giancarlo Stanton would involve a massive salary dump courtesy of the Miami Marlins. Although he grew up a fan, is a reigning MVP, and a home run crusher, his situation would involve quite the maneuvering for the Dodgers to be serious about acquiring him while also staying below the luxury tax threshold.
The deal involving Ohtani, on the other hand, would be a more manageable situation. The Dodgers can only offer Ohtani a signing bonus of $300,000 and his salary would be exponentially lower than Stanton’s. Additionally, Stanton’s contract is already set, so Los Angeles would prefer the opportunity to negotiate with Ohtani and his representatives, as opposed to just negotiating the pieces they would trade away and amount of money they would take on his contract.
While I would rather see the Dodgers go after Stanton to solidify their already dynamic offense, a more serious pursuit of Ohtani is seen as the most likely scenario.