Who Will Leave the LA Dodgers This Off-Season?
The Los Angeles Dodgers are in an outstanding position this winter as they look forward to the 2024 season. The Dodgers are the envy of the baseball world, as they have captured one of the most exciting talents in the sport. Superstar Shohei Ohtani will play for the Dodgers after signing a multi-year deal worth $700 million. One of the most surprising facts about the deal is that almost all the money is deferred, which means the Dodgers can make big moves in the off-season to strengthen their roster. The question is whether all of the superstar names featured last season will return in 2024. Below is our assessment of the future of five LA Dodgers free agents this winter.
1. Jason Heyward
The LA Dodgers knew Jason Heyward was facing a make-or-break season in 2023. He wanted to prove that his swing tweak would not change him as a baseball player. As the Dodgers finished near the top of the MLB team rankings 2023 showed that Heyward was on a mission throughout the season and managed to get the results he wanted.
Heyward had a great season, putting up numbers such as 1.9 bWAR and 117 OPS+, while he hit 15 homers. Such numbers have seen him earn a stay on his modest contract, which will see him net a pay rise on the $720,000 the team paid him in 2023.
2. Kike Hernandez
The Dodgers are likely to hold onto Kike Hernandez in the offseason, despite what fans were expecting. Most supporters thought Hernandez would be one of those moved, as the team looked to improve.
However, Hernandez has earned himself a reprieve. He did not have an outstanding season at the start but improved in the second half. The coaches were impressed at his ability to adapt to his teammates and felt he could be a valuable asset in the locker room in 2024.
3. Clayton Kershaw
Kershaw's status is up in the air as he recovers from surgery. He hasn't even decided if he wants to pitch in 2024 and may not be ready to go until the summer.
Kershaw did not have the best of 2023 seasons, as injury restricted him from making the impact he wanted.
The ability to get Shohei Ohtani to agree to a deferred deal means the Dodgers can go after superstars in the winter. They do not have to settle for players who may no longer be good enough, and Kershaw falls in that category.
4. Lance Lynn
Free agent Lance Lynn has already been let go in the offseason. The talented 36-year-old has enjoyed a solid career but may find that his time as a high-level starter has ended. The Dodgers did not pick up his $18 million option, as they no longer feel he offers the necessary value, but Lynn did sign a one-year $10 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals, with an option for 2025.
Lynn had a solid season for the Dodgers as a mid-season pick-up from the Chicago White Sox, going 7-2 in 11 starts.
5. JD Martinez
One player who is likely to leave the LA Dodgers is JD Martinez, who signed a one-year $10 million deal with the team last year after slumping with the Red Sox. Martinez rebounded nicely, hitting .271 with 33 home runs and 103 runs batted in, in only 432 at bats (113 games).
With Ohtani in the fold, Martinez, 36, is likely to move on for more money elsewhere.
Will Shohei and the Dodgers Win It All?
The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the most decorated and famous teams in Major League Baseball. Fans in L.A. can expect the team to lift silverware in the next few years, as they are highly ambitious and have plenty of money to throw at player contracts. The signing of Shohei Ohtani on a big-money contract was supposed to restrict what the Dodgers could do in free agency. However, the team has been clever in securing Ohtani to a deal that includes deferred payments. Since the superstar player will not receive his salary until several years later, the Dodgers are not taking a giant cap hit on him. That means they can continue to spend and convince the best available talent to join them instead of their rivals. If their roster building goes according to plan, the Dodgers will be the team to beat in 2024.