GLENDALE – As the Los Angeles Dodgers begin spring training with a revamped roster thanks to a record-breaking offseason spending spree, fans of the team are more excited than ever – but not without raising their expectations of winning the ultimate prize this season.
The heightened anticipation was on display Friday at Camelback Ranch as fans waited for pitchers and catchers to begin their first official workout.
Dodgers fan Danny Thompson, who runs an Instagram fan account with more than 185,000 followers, made his championship expectations very clear.
“My expectation simply is this – the Dodgers need to win a World Series in 2024,” Thompson said.
For the fans, this was the first time they were able to see the newly formed squad the front office composed after a postseason upset to their division rival, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
After one of the most active offseasons in MLB history – one which saw the Dodgers spend more than a billion dollars – expectations are going to be higher than usual for the perennial contender. The additions of two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani, outfielder Teoscar Hernandez and pitchers Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Tyler Glasnow have pushed the team into being labeled as championship favorites.
Longtime Dodgers fan Randy Arellano has his sights set no lower than a World Series title after the historic offseason.
“While they (Dodgers) did their best to get back into the World Series, I think we should win the (National League) West and I think we should win the (National League) pennant and we better win a World Series after all that money we spent,” Arellano said.
The Dodgers signed Ohtani to a record-setting 10-year, $700 million contract in the offseason. However, Ohtani agreed to defer $680 million that will be paid out from 2034 to 2043 – a move that opened the door to sign Yamamoto to his own megadeal of 12 years, $325 million and sparked controversy among fans around the league, with many believing it hurts the parity in the sport.
Thompson believes the use of payment deferrals is fair game and that other teams choose not to take advantage of it.
“It’s a rule that is already there, it’s just teams haven’t capitalized on it. The Dodgers capitalized on it,” Thompson said. “So no, it is not ruining baseball. It is just that owners from other teams don’t want to spend that much money. They want to put more profit in their pockets than put a winning product on the field.”
The Dodgers come into the season alongside the New York Mets with one of the highest payrolls in the National League at $302 million, according to FanGraphs estimates that include projected arbitration salaries. For comparison, the Diamondbacks have an estimated payroll of $142 million while the lowest National League payroll belongs to the Pittsburgh Pirates with $81 million.
A major need for the Dodgers after the season was starting pitching. The team’s starting pitchers only threw 4 2/3 innings through three games in the National League division series against the Diamondbacks.
AJ Vega was happy that the Dodgers’ front office worked efficiently to patch up any holes that might have been exploited during last year’s postseason.
“It’s a team that if they want a World Series, they’re willing to do anything to get it and that’s what I respect most about the Dodgers,” Vega said. “They’ll do anything for a winning chance and I think they made some pretty smart moves.”
Carlos Morales, known by many in the community as the poncho and mask-wearing superfan “Desert Doyer,” thinks the Dodgers need to win a title this year.
“It’s World Series-or-bust this year,” Morales said. “They’ve got some good players this year so we got to perform and we got to get out there and win the World Series.”