Dodgers head to general managers meetings with eyes on Shohei Ohtani

On Monday, merely 12 days after the Dodgers fell in Game 7 of the World Series, the brain trust of Andrew Friedman’s front office will descend on the Waldorf Astoria, a resort tucked amid a cocoon of golf courses and Disney theme parks, for the general managers meetings, the first step toward the team’s ongoing quest to end a championship drought that spans 29 seasons.

These meetings serve as a precursor to the more productive winter meetings — scheduled for December, also in Orlando — as teams discuss the early framework for trades and engage with agents about the prices for free agents. As the Dodgers recover from their loss to Houston, the organization still boasts an enviable amount of talent on the major league roster and throughout the farm system.

Thus the Dodgers can afford to be selective as they chart a path for the offseason. Like the rest of the industry, the team is monitoring the impending arrival of Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani, The Nippon-Ham Fighters, Ohtani’s team in Nippon Professional Baseball, announced Friday they would allow Ohtani to sign with an MLB team. The two leagues must still negotiate the details of a posting agreement, but the Dodgers are expected to be in the mix for Ohtani, along with the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers and, really, the rest of the clubs.

Ohtani is not the only pitcher on the market. After collapsing twice in the World Series, Yu Darvish professed his desire to return to the Dodgers. To do so, Darvish may need to take a below-market contract, as Friedman has shown little interest in handing out nine-figure deals for starting pitchers. That restraint may keep the Dodgers on the periphery with 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, who has regressed slightly during the last two seasons.

As always, the Dodgers possess a wealth of starting pitching depth, with Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda, Brandon McCarthy, Ross Stripling, Brock Stewart and Scott Kazmir under contract for 2018. Julio Urias could also contribute after he recovers from shoulder surgery. Yet, the team’s insistence on stockpiling arms will keep them in the market.

The Dodgers could also pursue a reunion with reliever Brandon Morrow, who should expect a multi-year contract after posting a 2.06 earned-run average in 2017. Or the team could search for another version of Morrow, who signed a minor league contract in January.

Though the action is generally low-key at the meetings, there are still trades to be made. At last year’s general managers meetings, the Dodgers dumped Howie Kendrick’s salary on the Philadelphia Phillies. The team could search for a similar landing spot for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who lost his spot in the lineup to rookie sensation Cody Bellinger and did not appear on the team’s postseason roster. Gonzalez is owed $22.4 million for 2018. The Dodgers are unlikely to unload the entirety of that sum.

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