Picking up on what Friedman usually does….
Once again, I want to point out Friedman’s MO.
He goes after superstars and he goes after undervalued assets.
He doesn’t go after Chapman, Adam Frazier or Jordan Montgomery.
He could change his philosophy, but until now he hasn’t.
On this we agree. Except I am not so sure he would not pursue Adam Frazier. Frazier is more of that undervalued asset that AF seems to covet.
Perhaps my take will differ in that AF generally comes up short in his pursuit of superstars. He succeeded with Mookie (extension after a trade). He succeeded with Freddie (FA). Although I have no idea why Freddie was signed at such a “low” contract. Once the CBA was signed, I think everyone expected Freddie to re-sign with Atlanta, and by the time they traded for Matt Olson, most of rosters were filled and AF swooped in. IMO, if a team had offered Freddie $180-$200MM earlier, AF would not have matched it. Why do I say that? Outside of Freddie, what FA did Freidman sign for long term $150MM++? Trevor Bauer is the only other FA that AF signed in excess of $100MM (3 years $102).
In 2023, the Dodgers did not have a problem with scoring runs (during the season). They did have a big problem with starting pitching. And yet there are those that want to give a DH, who may or may not be an effective pitcher again, $40MM to $50MM to $60MM a year. Shohei Ohtani is an elite prolific hitter. Better than Judge? Harper? Certainly arguable.
Is he deserving of an Aaron Judge contract (9 years $360MM)? While Ohtani would be exclusively a DH, Judge has been a respectable defensive RF who can play CF (okay not very well). 2023 was Judge’s first off year defensively in RF.
I have no idea what type of a clutch hitter (playoffs) Ohtani would be since he has yet to play his first MLB playoff game. The Dodgers spent $10MM for a DH in 2023, and he got the team further than did Ohtani. And there are some that want to spend 4 times that for 10 years?
The Dodgers have had one consistent superstar throughout…Clayton Kershaw. Friedman has lost out on every other FA he was supposedly bidding for. Bryce Harper, Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, Corey Seager, Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke.
Gerrit Cole was only going to pitch for NYY. Once he got the offer he wanted from NYY, he never let the Dodgers counter.
Anthony Rendon did not want to go “Hollywood”. Instead he went to Disneyland and flat out quit.
Trea Turner was only going to play on the east coast. He made that crystal clear.
AF really blew any shot at Bryce Harper who was adamant that he wanted a long term deal. Instead AF offered a short term high AAV deal, which is his comfort zone, not necessarily the players’. Harper signed with Philadelphia for 13 years $330MM instead of 3 years $150MM (or something close).
His offer to Corey Seager was never going to be near enough. Chris Young wanted him, and paid what it would take. Corey Seager should still be a Dodger.
Zack Greinke had a handshake with AF, but after Arizona came in with a last second offer, he accepted without letting LAD counter…not that AF would have.
They came up #3 or #4 on JV.
I cannot blame AF on Bogaerts. Some have estimated that SD paid nearly $100MM more than the next best offer. Some have strongly speculated that Preller did not want AF swooping in and signing him; very willing to overspend.
The Dodgers show they have the organization and can acquire depth players to be more than competitive in the regular season. But in 3 out of the last 5 NLDS’, the Dodgers have been beat (3-9) even while averaging nearly 106 wins during the season.
Something has to change.
Below is the best estimate of the Dodgers projected 2024 payroll as it currently exists.
That is 20 players who figure to be on the MLB roster, and there are 10 other pre-arbitration players that will get strong consideration for the 26 man:
- Bobby Miller
- Ryan Pepiot
- Emmet Sheehan
- James Outman
- Michael Busch
- Miguel Vargas
- Jonny Deluca
- Michael Grove
- Gavin Stone
- Kyle Hurt
There is at least $60MM-$70MM in payroll available before the CBT threshold. There is no reason that LAD cannot exceed the threshold if an elite player becomes available.
In prior years, AF would tinker around the edges and rely on his organizational depth. But shouldn’t a different approach be a premier consideration?
Something needs to change.
Considering Bluto’s initial comment regarding AF looking for superstars, even though I am not convinced that the Dodgers need Shohei Ohtani, I am just as convinced that AF will make more than a competitive offer for him. Too many believe that AF did not spend big for 2023 because they believed that Ohtani was a target for 2024. If he does not make a sincere effort for Ohtani, he will suffer from lack of believability from the fan base (earned or not earned is irrelevant). He is a superstar that LAD can add to their stable.
But the question is…how much? If I am being realistic, I would pay him Aaron Judge $$$ and then create a vesting incentive for pitching. When healthy, he pitches every 6 days. The most starts in his MLB career is 28 (2022), and the most IP is 166.0. Is that really worth $200MM++? Does AF risk losing Ohtani to another team that does not need to include a vesting option in their offer? IMO, as a MLB player he is not worth $600MM, and that was before he got his 2nd TJ surgery. But other teams believe he is. Does AF reconsider his strategy?
AF also seems to take his time evaluating FA contract proposals, and that could take him out of the discussions for other players.
Besides Ohtani, I do think AF will get heavily involved with negotiations for Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Yamamoto is reported to be posted around December 1, giving a team just 30 days prior to year end to conclude contract terms and get him under contract.
Will the pitching be good enough with Buehler, Miller, Yamamoto, Pepiot, and Sheehan, or will they also look for another mid rotation starter (Clayton Kershaw, Jack Flaherty, Lucas Giolito, Hyun-jin Ryu) or shoot for another front line starter…Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery, Sonny Gray, Aaron Nola?
But that brings up another change in strategy for AF. He needs to be willing and able to negotiate with Scott Boras, something he has not done previously. Both Snell and Montgomery are Boras clients.
I can see AF signing two SP from the above names. AF’s depth will be Gavin Stone, Michael Grove, Landon Knack, Nick Frasso, River Ryan.
Does AF also consider Matt Chapman, another Boras client? If he signs Ohtani, does he keep Muncy for 3B? Give it to Michael Busch or Miguel Vargas? He cannot keep both Busch and Vargas can he? Does Jonny Deluca get the long runway for the LF job? Does Kyle Hurt get a long look as a high leverage reliever on the MLB roster? Or does AF look to sign an elite closer?
Does he limit his available $$$ by giving Clayton Kershaw another $20MM deal?
AF has options with payroll flexibility. What he does over the next 4 months will let the LAD fanbase know if it is going to be more of the same, or a change in strategy. Regardless, he is going to need approval from ownership whatever direction he chooses.
Something needs to change.