The Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2024 Season: A Balanced Approach to Championship Aspirations
Shohei Ohtani, Dodgers workout, 2024 Spring Training
Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Following an injury-plagued season where they still won 100 games but were swept in the divisional playoffs by the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Los Angeles Dodgers are entering the 2024 season with high expectations. Particularly given their off-season moves, including a trade, high-profile acquisitions, and key contract extensions.

Current MLB odds have the Dodgers as +360 favorites to win the World Series. This is the 5th straight year that Los Angeles enters the season as favorites.

Offseason Additions

The most significant addition to the team is Shohei Ohtani, the two-time American League MVP. Ohtani signed a record-breaking contract with Los Angeles. The 10-year, $700 million deal is the most lucrative contract in baseball history, topping the previous Mike Trout, who signed a $430 million, 12-year contract in 2019.

Ohtani, who tore his ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow over the summer, won’t pitch in 2024 due to his recovery from surgery in October, but he’s already taking swings for the Dodgers in spring training and is expected to be the team opening day designated hitter when the Dodgers open the season in Seoul Korea

Joining Ohtani in the line-up is outfielder Teoscar Hernández who inked a $23.5 million 1-year deal. Hernández, 31, played in 160 games with the Seattle Mariners in 2023 and hit .258 with 26 homers and 93 RBIs. The two of them should more than make up for the loss of J.D. Martinez who the Dodgers opted not to re-sign.

Los Angeles also signed highly coveted Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto to a 12-year, $325 million contract. This is the largest contract ever given to a pitcher, slightly eclipsing the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole’s contract. Yamamoto previously played for the Japanese Pacific League Buffaloes from 2017–2023 where he won MVP the last three years.

Yamamoto joins Tyler Glasnow, who was acquired along with outfielder Manuel Margot in an off-season trade for starter Ryan Pepiot and outfielder Jonny DeLuca. Glasnow then signed a five-year, $136.5 million extension with Los Angeles.

“It’s somewhere I’ve wanted to be my entire life, you know?” Glasnow said during an introductory Zoom call. “There was a short list of teams that I wanted to go to, and the Dodgers were on it. And they were very bullish on trying to get me, and I really appreciated the fact that they thought so highly of me. And I get to go home, and I have all my family there, and it just seemed like a no-brainer to me.”

The trade for Glasnow was always contingent upon him agreeing to work out a contract extension. Fortunately for L.A., Glasnow was amenable.

Core Players, Extensions, and Depth

The foundation of the Dodgers’ success, a core group of players that contributed back-to-back 100+ win seasons remains largely unchanged. Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts are signed through 2028 and 2033 respectively. Max Muncy signed a 2-year extension in November, with a club option for 2026. While all-star catcher Will Smith avoided arbitration and signed a 1-year deal.

A few weeks ago Clayton Kershaw committed for at least another year. Kershaw, who underwent shoulder surgery during the offseason, signed a 1-year deal with a player option and is expected back sometime over the summer. Also expected back is Walker Buehler. According to Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts, Buehler won’t open on the active roster after missing all of 2023 due to a second Tommy John surgery but is expected to return sometime during the first half of the year.

The Dodgers resigned veteran Jason Heyward who will likely platoon in the outfield with James Outman, Chris Taylor, Manuel Margo, Teoscar Hernandez, and Miguel Vargas. Gavin Lux returns after missing all of last season following a gruesome injury during spring training. Lux will likely share time with Miguel Rojas at shortstop. Bobby Miller will likely begin the season as the third starter, with Gavin Stone, Emmet Sheehan, James Paxton, and Ryan Yarbrough competing for the 4th and 5th spots to start the season.

The bullpen is without a dedicated closer, though Blake Treinen might get that call if he returns. Evan Phillips, Brusar Graterol, Alex Vesia, and Joe Kelly all return to the bullpen.

World Series Odds

The Los Angeles Dodgers (+360) enter the 2023 season as favorites to win both the National League West and World Series. The Atlanta Braves come in behind Los Angeles at +600 and then it’s the Houston Astros at +850.

The New York Yankees and defending World Series champion Texas Rangers are both +1100 and round out the Top 5 in the odds. The reigning National League champion Arizona Diamondbacks are +3500.