Are The Dodgers Planning To Add Shohei Ohtani In Free Agency? Andrew Friedman Discusses

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Shohei Ohtani is a transcendent star, someone who contributes to a team’s on and off-field performance. And he does it in ways that no one else in Major League Baseball is capable of, as both an elite hitter and elite starter.

Ohtani is also set to become a free agent after the 2023 season, assuming he doesn’t re-sign during the season with the Los Angeles Angels.

Speculation on where he’ll go has been a topic of conversation around the league. Especially because the Los Angeles Dodgers, traditionally one of baseball’s highest spending teams, seemingly avoided spending during the 2022-2023 offseason.

The Orange County Register spoke to president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman about the team’s offseason moves and how it relates to Ohtani preparations.

And Friedman seemingly denied that the team went light on spending in an attempt to target Ohtani this offseason.

“We have shown consistently that we will do everything we can to put ourselves in the best position to win. Our ownership has backed that up at every turn,” Friedman said. “Obviously I wouldn’t get into specific players. But also – our mindset would never be, ‘Hey, let’s wait a year or two or three for this.’”

Shohei Ohtani Los Angeles Dodgers
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – APRIL 05: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels hits an RBI single during the seventh inning against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on April 05, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Friedman Deflecting On Ohtani And LA’s Spending?

The Dodgers went into the offseason with high profile players like Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner and Trea Turner heading into free agency.

Instead of committing to higher salaries or long term deals, the team let all of them walk. Replacements like Carlos Correa or Xander Bogaerts signed elsewhere, and LA missed out on star pitchers like Jacob deGrom or Justin Verlander.

That led to speculation that the team was hoping to reset their luxury tax bill in order to target Ohtani.

Friedman’s comments, however, seem to argue against that mentality.

“That would never be our mindset. We feel like we have the talent in this room to be a really, really good team,” he explained.

He continued by saying that the team’s young players deserved an opportunity to play, which led to a lack of spending.

“It’s not something I’ve paid much attention to because we’ve made a lot of splashy moves the last three or four years,” Friedman said. “Obviously it’s not something we can do every year. But the most important thing is, ‘Is the team talented enough?’ For us, we felt like we had the talent in that room and that it was the right time to introduce some of our younger players who had gotten to that point where they needed opportunity.”

But there’s an argument to be made that the team could have easily done more. And might have, if Ohtani weren’t potentially available soon.

Dodgers Could Be Spending More

For example, after letting other veterans walk, the team brought in Noah Syndergaard, David Peralta, Miguel Rojas and J.D. Martinez. Combined, their salaries equate to $35 million this season. Trevor Bauer is also being paid $22 million to play in Japan.


Trea Turner, for comparison, is making $27.3 million this season.

Turner required a much longer commitment, but just adding his 6.3 WAR to the Dodgers would have almost certainly resulted in a substantially better team.

There’s a contrast to be made with the Tampa Bay Rays, who have jumped to a historic start despite their lack of spending.

But for teams like the Dodgers, with the financial might to make multiple substantial long-term signings, why not pursue every opportunity.

Friedman defended the roster construction, saying “This offense is more than talented enough to help us win a lot of games and help us win postseason series.”

Yet with a middling 12-11 start and weaknesses throughout the roster, if the Dodgers don’t sign Ohtani this offseason, 2023 could be a massive disappointment.

There’s no question the Dodgers let talented players sign with rival teams in order to save money. The biggest remaining question though, is how will they use that savings down the road.

To pursue perhaps the greatest player in the history of the sport? Or to reward ownership with increased profits.

Only time will tell.

Written by Ian Miller

Ian Miller is a former award watching high school actor, author, and long suffering Dodgers fan. He spends most of his time golfing, traveling, reading about World War I history, and trying to get the remote back from his dog. Follow him on Twitter @ianmSC

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