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Why the Dodgers’ winter plans hinge on Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Shohei Ohtani, left, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

About a month into free agency, a de facto waiting game is underway — for both the Dodgers, and many other clubs around Major League Baseball.

In what has been a quiet offseason around the league, the Dodgers have been no exception; yet to orchestrate much of a ripple, let alone any discernible splash.

Instead, with the winter meetings approaching next week, the team appears to be waiting for this offseason’s two biggest dominoes to fall first, anxious to learn their fate in the sweepstakes for Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto before making any other major moves.

“Right now, things are building momentum in a lot of different areas,” president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told reporters Friday, three days before MLB’s winter meetings open in Nashville on Monday. “Whether that means a lot of things will get done during these three days in Nashville or not, I’m not sure. But I do feel like a lot of things are starting to come to a head.”

Friedman on Friday offered few specifics into the Dodgers’ winter plans — which, to this point, have included only an extension for Max Muncy, the re-signing of Jason Heyward (whose $9 million contract remains the biggest signed by a free agent so far this winter) and the minor addition of reliever Ricky Vanasco.

Read more: The Dodgers want Shohei Ohtani. But how far will they go in a potential bidding war?

However, according to multiple people with knowledge of the team’s plans who were unauthorized to speak publicly and granted anonymity, the Dodgers are still among the top contenders for this offseason’s pair of Japanese stars.

And only once those players are off the board will the Dodgers likely decide how to proceed through the rest of the winter.

“There is something about the 24/7 focus on transactions during those three days … that we feel like there’s going to be a number of things that could line up for us, but not clear exactly when,” said Friedman, who didn’t discuss any free agents or trade targets individually.

As expected, little public information has emerged about either the notoriously secretive Ohtani or his soon-to-be-MLB peer in Yamamoto, a right-handed starting pitcher coming to MLB from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league.


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