Column: How much will the Dodgers lose if Julio Urías leaves? Scott Boras weighs in

Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urías delivers during an 8-2 season-opening win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urías delivers during an 8-2 season-opening win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on Thursday. Urías is set to become a free agent after this season.
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

Sandy Koufax and Clayton Kershaw were in the house. Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser were on the mound, throwing ceremonial first pitches.

That royal quartet accounted for 20 opening day starts for the franchise with the proudest pitching tradition in all the major leagues.

Then Thursday’s game started, and Julio Urías made his first opening day start. One and done?


Urías is the heir to the Valenzuela legacy, the torch bearer for a fan base that is half Latino, in a city that is half Latino.

“The closest thing to Fernando is Julio Urías,” said Jaime Jarrín, the Dodgers’ recently retired Hall of Fame broadcaster. “No question about it.”

James Outman and Miguel Vargas impress for the Dodgers in their victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Will the new guys continue to play leading roles?

March 30, 2023

Urías is eligible for free agency after the season, just like Shohei Ohtani. And, while Ohtani could leave the Angels and politely say he preferred to play for a perennial contender, the Dodgers are a perennial contender.

What if Urías left the Dodgers?

“The reaction of the community would be negative, really, because they love him,” Jarrín said. “It would be bad if he leaves the Dodgers.”

Bad for whom?

“For the team,” Jarrín said. “For the community. For him, no, because even though I am sure he loves the Dodgers, business is business.

“And, you know, Scott Boras is his agent.”

Boras, who was at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, generally prefers his clients let the market determine their value. He will no doubt conjure up some colorful metaphors to use in selling Urías, but the numbers speak for themselves.


Urías led the National League in earned-run average last year. He won 20 games the year before. He will hit free agency at 27.

Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urías delivers during the second inning Thursday against the Diamondbacks.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

“This guy has an amazing career ahead of him,” Boras said. “He’s already had a very good career.”

When the San Diego Padres extended Manny Machado’s contract, Urías became the shiniest prize in free agency not named Ohtani.

Aaron Nola is eligible for free agency, but he is three years older and he opens this season having thrown twice as many innings as Urías.

The rest of the free agent pitching class includes the likes of Lucas Giolito, Sonny Gray and Blake Snell. It’s a fair jump from there to Urías.

If the Dodgers do not sign Ohtani for $500 million, or more — or even if they do — do they sign Urías for $200 million, or more?

“In the free agent world, the Dodgers have not been as aggressive as other teams with the players I have represented,” Boras said, citing Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg as examples.


And, of course, the Dodgers did not make the high bid to retain Corey Seager or Max Scherzer.

“They seemed to have ready replacements at shortstop and with their pitching staff when they made those decisions,” Boras said. “When a team looks at this and says they’ve got qualified replacements, it’s not unusual for a team not to be that assertive in the free agent market.”

The Dodgers win. They trust their player development. They do not traffic in sentiment.

Standout performances by Will Smith, Julio Urías and James Outman help deliver the Dodgers to an 8-2 season-opening victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

March 30, 2023

There is no such thing as a “must-sign” player here. There is a “would love to sign” category, and that is where Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman puts Urías.

“Julio has been a big part of our past success, and we look forward to him being a big part of what we accomplish this year as well,” Friedman said Thursday. “Obviously, we are all focused on 2023 right now, but our hope is that Julio is wearing Dodger blue for many years to come.”

The mariachi music before the game set a tone. With each starting pitcher, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, there is a tone.

“When Clayton pitches, there’s an anticipation, there’s a little bit of ‘on eggshells,’ there’s an intensity,” Roberts said. “When Julio is pitching, there is that extra ramp up of excitement, joy, fire.”


There was joy in the ballpark on Thursday. During his first opening day start, Urías gave up two runs in six innings, earning the win in the Dodgers’ 8-2 rout of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“It’s an unforgettable experience,” Urías said after the game, “something like that with a team like this, the history that the team has, and all the people that have done this before. It was just something that was really special to me, and obviously being able to send the fans home with the victory is a blessing.”

The Dodgers rallied from an early deficit to defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks in their season opener at Dodger Stadium on Thursday.

March 30, 2023

The signature memory of Urías’ career is throwing the final strike of the Dodgers’ World Series championship in 2020, the team’s first title in 32 years.

Yet he is so young that he could play long enough somewhere else that he could be best remembered as a star for another team.

The Dodgers have a Mexican star to call their own, and Latino fans have a star they can embrace as their own, at least for one more season. Nothing in life is guaranteed, including Urías starting another opener for the Dodgers.