Dodgers Shopping for Starting Pitching This Winter after It Failed Them in the Postseason

AP Photo/Ashley Landis
Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani talks with his translator Ippei Mizuhara, right, in the dugout during the first inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers will be shopping for starting pitching after it cost them dearly in a first-round playoff exit for the second straight year.

Starter Walker Buehler is expected to return after recovering from a second Tommy John surgery, along with current rookies Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiot, Emmet Sheehan and Gavin Stone. Tony Gonsolin is expected to miss all of 2024 while rehabbing from Tommy John. He was one of several pitchers who were injured during the season.

The biggest arm on the impending free-agent market will be Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani. He can hit but he won’t pitch next year since he’s coming off his second Tommy John surgery. That won’t stop the Dodgers from pursuing him, but it means they’ll need to look elsewhere for mound improvement.

Another Japanese pitcher, 25-year-old right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto, is expected to move to Major League Baseball after throwing two no-hitters. He and Ohtani were teammates for Japan in the World Baseball Classic.

We’re just looking to get as many talented players as we can, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said Tuesday, “to be aggressive and put the best team on the field that we can.”

Friedman described the franchise as “extremely angry and disappointed” with its first-round postseason exits the last two years after winning 100 or more games.

We need to figure out what we can do differently and how to go about it, he said. “When there’s an organizational failure I think it starts and ends with me. I didn’t do a good enough job.”

Friedman sees no need for major upheaval.

Organizational failure means it’s on all of us and we all have a hand in it, he said. “If this were one person or a small collection of people in my estimation we would make changes.”

Three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, who turns 36 in March, is pondering his future in consultation with wife Ellen. He has pitched on one-year contracts each of the last two seasons.

The ball is squarely in their court, Friedman said.

Do the Dodgers want Kershaw back?

Absolutely, Friedman said, indicating the team would make it happen if the left-hander decides not to retire.

Friedman confirmed manager Dave Roberts will be back for his ninth season.

I do feel very confident that when we show up in Arizona in February we’re going to have a team that has very, very legitimate championship aspirations, Friedman said.