The Los Angeles Dodgers have a history of making audacious off-season acquisitions. However, the 2023 winter off-season exceeded their bold past, leading to a seismic change that affected baseball as a whole. 

It was more than just a splashy headline when the once-in-a-generation superstar and 2023 Most Valuable Player of Major League Baseball, Shohei Ohtani, signed a record-breaking $700 million contract. Let's examine the Dodgers’ offseason plan, consider the ramifications of the Ohtani deal, and evaluate the Dodgers’ prospects of winning the Commissioner's Trophy in the end.

First of all, the Ohtani transaction was an excellent example of financial scheming. Even while the headline figure is enormous, the Dodgers are able to pass the Competitive Balance Taxbarrier rather easily because of their special structure, which defers $680 million to later years. This innovative strategy frees up funds for additional acquisitions, which is important given the team's pre-existing strong core.

Ohtani was not the only move the Dodgers made this offseason. In order to strengthen a bullpen that struggled during the postseason, the Dodgers signed veteran closer Craig Kimbrel. With the astute acquisition of infielder Joey Gallo and outfielder Brett Phillips, two players noted for their strength and defensive ability, they also increased depth and versatility. The Dodgers now have a strong roster that can potentially address any issue thanks to these signings.

Still, there are many unanswered questions regarding Ohtani’s acquisition. After Ohtani tore his UCL on Aug. 23, 2023, he underwent surgery similar to a Tommy John injury. The tear means that Ohtani will be ready to hit by opening day this year, and he will be able to pitch and be a “two-way player” according to Forbes. It is not easy to fit his special skill set into the starting lineup. Thus, to maximize his effectiveness through his recovery and prevent overuse injuries, Ohtani must carefully balance his pitching and hitting workloads. Furthermore, he might feel substantial pressure to defend the contract that broke records.

In the grand scheme of things, the Dodgers’ approach is obvious: win now, win at whatever costs. Although signing Ohtani is a risk, it has the potential to pay off handsomely. If the Dodgers surround him with a championship-caliber squad, they have a better chance of breaking through the October curse that has dogged them for the past few seasons. The October curse has been the losses that have prevented the Dodgers from advancing in the playoffs the past few years.

The San Diego Padres, the Dodgers main rival in the National League West, have also advanced significantly with last year's addition of All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts. With the Ohtani trade, the rivalry between these two dominant California teams promises to be even more exciting.

Moreover, the league as a whole may be affected by the Dodgers' supremacy. It might compel other teams to do the same, sparking competition for superstar players and possibly driving player compensation up even further.

On the other hand, it is still unclear if the Dodgers’ approach is viable. Ohtani's wage deferral could lead to future financial difficulties and reduce the team's ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Furthermore, if the franchise places a lot of emphasis on its superstars, it may be hiding deeper flaws in its development process.

Los Angeles also signed Yoshinobu Yamamoto in the offseason, which brought their spending limit to over $1 billion, more than all of the other MLB teams’ spending in the offseason combined. According to the MLB, Yamamoto’s contract is 12 years and $325 million, and the Dodgers welcomed the star Japanese pitcher to their all star level roster.

The outcome of the Dodgers' gambit remains to be seen. However, one thing is for sure: their bold offseason has lifted the bar for the MLB, sparked fan excitement, and prepared the world for what looks to be an incredible season. 

One question remains as the baseball world waits in suspense: will the Dodgers' $700 million risk pay off in a World Series victory or serve as a warning to others that ambition might be more important than common sense? The erratic and exciting pages of the 2024 baseball season hold the answer.