The starting pitcher market this upcoming offseason is one of the craziest we’ve had in recent memory. Shohei Ohtani is the headlining free agent (as we all know), and is currently a leading candidate for the American League Cy Young Award. But he’s far from the only great starting pitcher about to hit the open market.
Aaron Nola, Lucas Giolito, Sonny Gray, Jack Flaherty, Blake Snell, Martin Perez and Jordan Montgomery are among the non-Dodger starting pitchers eligible to test free agency. Clayton Kershaw is of course on an expiring contract, but it’s hard to consider him a free agent when it’s likely he either re-signs or retires.
Then, there’s Max Scherzer, Marcus Stroman and Eduardo Rodriquez, who each have opt-outs. Charlie Morton and Lance Lynn are among those with club options. And, finally, there’s Dodgers star Julio Urias.
Urias is having somewhat of an up and down year so far. After dominating in his first four outings, he got roughed up in back to back ones, before settling back in.
He enters Saturday’s start against the Padres with a 3.77 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, which would both be the worst of his career since 2017, when he made just five starts.
However, Urias’ track record speaks for itself, and he’s sure to be one of the most sought after pitchers this offseason, likely earning the second-highest contract after Ohtani.
The Dodgers are sure to be in the mix to bring their ace back. However, if they sign Ohtani — and it’s no secret they want to do that — they may not have the funds to bring Urias back, too. And if that’s the case, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic explains an interesting scenario that should have Dodger fans cringing.
“If the Dodgers land Ohtani, as many in the industry predict, Urías will be that much more enticing to the Angels, who are not always motivated to spend, and Padres, who take offense at the mere suggestion of fiscal restraint. …
“If the Dodgers fail to get Ohtani, they likely will want Urías back; they also face uncertainty with Kershaw, who also is a potential free agent and could retire. If the Padres fail to get Ohtani, Urías would represent the most logical alternative.”
Rosenthal reports that a potential likely landing spot for Urias if the Dodgers don’t re-sign him is none other than the division-rival, high-spending San Diego Padres. Could you imagine Urias in a Padres uniform?
The Padres, of course, will be in the mix for Ohtani, too. And even though they’ve signed almost all of their impending free agents, they still have Juan Soto, who’s set to hit the open market in 2024. But the Padres have made it clear that money is no barrier for them, so theoretically, they could re-sign Soto, and still have room for Ohtani — or if he goes somewhere else, Urias.
I don’t think any Dodger fan wants to think about Urias in a Padres uniform, but if he doesn’t re-sign in LA, it’s really hard to predict where he might go.
Urias is going to command a huge contract, one that a lot of teams aren’t going to want to pay. The Padres are sure to be on that shortlist of teams willing to spend, and they’re going to need the starting pitching. Urias is also a client of Scott Boras, so there’s a good chance he goes wherever the money takes him.
We don’t need to get ahead of ourselves on this story just yet, but it’s definitely something to monitor as the year goes on.
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