Dodgers may be early favorite in Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes

Some folks around baseball see the Dodgers — one of many that will make a play for Shohei Ohtani, baseball’s best player — as the very early favorite for the two-way superstar.

They cut payroll and no one denies Ohtani’s impending free agency is one of the reasons (there seem to be many).

Anyway, the Dodgers offer an enticing combination of pluses: They are perennial winners in a geographically desirable area for him (five of his seven finalists five years ago were on the West Coast), and they obviously have the wherewithal.

Good thing the Dodgers cut up to $40 million out of their payroll, as they will try to lock up star pitcher Julio Urias, also a free agent after the year.

“I think Julio loves being a Dodger, and I know we love having Julio as a Dodgers,” Dodgers baseball president Andrew Friedman said.

Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani

Clayton Kershaw, maybe the best pitcher since Sandy Koufax, works as hard as ever to maintain greatness.

“Not going to stick around to be average,” Kershaw said before doing some more work.

Jason Heyward is impressing ’em in Dodgers camp, and is expected to make the team.

One of the nicer stories is Freddie Freeman playing for Team Canada in the WBC.

His mother, a Canadian, died of melanoma when Freeman was 10.

“I get to tell my mom’s story,” he said. “It keeps Rosemary Freeman’s name going. People talk about it, and it keeps my mom’s name alive.”

Rockies shortstop Brendan Rodgers is thought likely to need shoulder surgery, which would likely cost him the season.

But interestingly, the Rockies seem uninterested in bringing back Jose Iglesias.

The Marlins will score more runs, but now folks wonder if they will offset that by letting more in.

Jean Segura at third base, Joey Wendle at second base and Jazz Chisholm in center field are all playing out of position, and it’s showing early.

The Twins’ rotation of Pablo Lopez, Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Tyler Mahle and Kenta Maeda looks much improved.

The Jays made a good front office hire in James Click, basically forced out as GM following the Astros’ World Series win.

Some are advising Steve Cohen not to hire a baseball president, which would mean the job would mainly be handled by Cohen.

“I’m not that busy — that makes sense,” joked Cohen. (At least we think it was a joke.)