Even though Shohei Ohtani, Tyler Glasnow, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto are in the fold, the Dodgers still have room add starting pitching depth this offseason. The free agent market holds several options. Among others, Los Angeles has been linked to both Sean Manaea and Shota Imanaga. With no left-handers among their projected top four starters, Manaea and Imanaga make sense.
However, with a plethora of prospects waiting in the wings, the Dodgers could opt to enter the trade market armed with a war chest of young players ready to be moved.
MLB.com’s Juan Toribio wrote a piece speculating the direction of the Dodgers’ pursuit of starting pitching. He dropped this nugget, which could provide some insight into how president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman operates moving forward:
“In a perfect world, the Dodgers can acquire Corbin Burnes from the Brewers or Dylan Cease from the White Sox. But at this point in the offseason, it’s unlikely the Dodgers land either of them.”
– Juan Toribio on Dodgers’ chase for a starting pitcher
Cease is still under control for two more years, whereas Burnes will be a free agent after the 2024 season. Both would represent major upgrades in the starting rotation. Cease is a power pitcher led by an elite fastball and proven durability.
Burnes has been one of the best pitchers in the National League for years. A native of Southern California, he hangs his hat on a wicked cutter followed by a one-two punch of an above-average curveball and changeup.
In theory, the Dodgers do have the prospect capital to acquire both right-handed pitchers. Based on Toribio’s report, there could be some reasoning as to why these hypothetical deals won’t get done.
After seeing a $38.5 million contract for Lucas Giolito, I have to wonder if the Dodgers are going to refocus on their energies on trade possibilities for another starter. We’ve been talking about Corbin Burnes and Dylan Cease for months, as well as more than one Miami pitcher.…
— Howard Cole (@Howard_Cole) December 30, 2023
Milwaukee might try to push for a postseason berth before deciding to trade any of its best players. Burnes is represented by super-agent Scott Boras, so negotiating a contract extension might be a waste of the front office’s energy. The Dodgers likely wouldn’t want to trade prospects under long-term control for a player who would amount to a rental.
With so much money tied up into Glasnow, Yamamoto, and Ohtani — not to mention the possibility of re-signing Walker Buehler — Burnes might not be the most desirable target.
The White Sox might be asking for even more of a prospect haul for Cease, in addition to a more proven major league player with several years of team control. Cease has terrific stuff, and the quality of contact he allowed last season ranked among the top three pitchers in baseball.
Another report indicated the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners are more likely destinations for the 28-year-old.