LAD “In Lead” for Shohei Ohtani, Would It Catapult Dodgers to World Series Favorites?

(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Shohei Ohtani is by far the biggest free agent that’s been on the market in a very long time, possibly ever. He’s one player every MLB team and fanbase would dream of having. That’s obviously because of what Shohei Ohtani brings in two of the biggest aspects of the game. He’s arguably the most dangerous hitter you can go against if you’re a pitcher in the major league’s right now. Ohtani backed up his 2022 MVP season in a big way by batting over .300 and setting a new career high in home runs. The Japanese superstar slashed .304/.412/.654 with 78 extra-base hits and 44 home runs. He collected 95 RBIs and, with his sneaky, underestimated speed, stole 20 bases. To make things even more impressive, Ohtani, who is the first two-way player in a long time to reach the big leagues, pitched in 23 games this season. Shohei had a 10-5 record with a 3.14 ERA; in 132 innings pitched, he struck out 167 batters and walked 55. Unfortunately, because of an injury and surgery towards the end of this season, Ohtani is not expected to pitch in 2024. He’s not likely to be held back at the plate next season, which will be huge for the winner of the Ohtani sweepstakes. You’d think that since he’s had surgery and issues in the past with injuries that affect his ability to stay healthy on the mound, his value would drop even a little bit. But every front office out there understands what Ohtani would bring to the team and how valuable he is. That’s why this is expected to be one of the most lucrative free agencies in baseball history.

Does Ohtani Give the Dodgers an Edge as World Series Favorites?

If you’re a Dodgers fan and they end up with Ohtani, it will truly be a shame that he’s not expected to pitch this upcoming season. In fact, that reason alone might be enough for me to not consider Ohtani if I’m the Dodgers. The contract for Ohtani will be so lucrative that they would have their backs against the wall as far as being able to make more moves. There won’t be a lot of flexibility financially for any team that wins the Ohtani sweepstakes, but, the Dodgers need rotation help so bad, that I don’t know if signing Ohtani is the best thing for the team. Pitching should be the top priority. Walker Buehler is returning, which is huge for the Dodgers, but you never know what to expect from someone coming off of Tommy John Surgery. Not to mention the fact that he hasn’t pitched since 2022. There’s a very good chance that long time ace Clayton Kershaw won’t return to the mound in 2024 after surgery on his shoulder, but did say he is “hopeful” that he can return next season to pitch.

Dustin May hasn’t thrown a baseball since his surgery in July, and the Dodgers declined Lance Lynn’s player option, meaning the two will split up after the Dodgers acquired Lynn at the trade deadline this season. The starting rotation for the Dodgers is so thin that adding to their lineup isn’t best for their short-term success. So, if they pull off Ohtani, I’m not sure they would be considered the favorites, but they would obviously be strong contenders for the World Series title. The reason is that you know that teams like the Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Houston Astros will be getting a lot better, while the Dodgers probably just add one very meaningful piece to the puzzle. You can make an argument that the Dodgers offense would probably be undisputedly the best in baseball. However, in my opinion, they wouldn’t be the most complete team in baseball. For that reason, I have to say no, but long-term, the Dodgers with Ohtani 100% healthy would be the most dangerous team in baseball. If they decide to pursue Shohei Ohtani, 2025 could be a magical season for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Gage O'Leary

I'm one of the writers for ITD Baseball, I cover the Detroit Tigers and I hope to have a career in sports some day.

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