PHOENIX — The Dodgers haven’t been afraid of concocting “crazy ideas” in past offseasons, as president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman described them.
It’s just that, usually, the team doesn’t execute them the way it did this winter.
After their well-documented spending spree over the last three months, the Dodgers opened spring training this week with new faces across the team — from Yoshinobu Yamamoto to Tyler Glasnow and Shohei Ohtani most of all.
That’s why, in his first meeting with the media Friday afternoon in a lobby at the team’s Camelback Ranch facility, Friedman spent the better part of 15 minutes fielding questions about each — embracing in the process both the expectations that came with the club’s splashy acquisitions, and the need to make all the pieces fit ahead of a highly anticipated campaign.
“We feel really fortunate with the way things lined up this offseason,” Friedman said. “That being said, we’ve seen a lot of teams ‘win an offseason.’ So for us, that was an important step. But the most vital steps are this six-week period, as we get into the season.”
The biggest factor in the club’s 2024 equation: Ohtani, who also met with reporters Friday as he acclimated to his new surroundings.
Both Friedman and manager Dave Roberts noted that Ohtani’s transition has been underway for months, after the two-way star spent much of the winter working out at Dodger Stadium.
“For him to experience that, I think was great,” Friedman said.
“Just watching him work, everything he does is intentional,” added Roberts. “Which is pretty amazing, but not surprising.”
The Dodger Stadium workouts gave some teammates such as Walker Buehler and Gavin Lux a chance to interact with Ohtani, as well.
“It was awesome,” Lux said. “Obviously everyone knows how good of a baseball player he is, but seeing the work that goes behind it is really impressive.”
Friedman also spoke highly of the Dodgers’ new-look starting rotation — a group that was significantly bolstered by the arrivals of Yamamoto, Glasnow and veteran James Paxton, yet still faces questions about injury concerns and workload management.
“For each guy, it’s a little bit different,” Friedman said. “But we feel the collection of arms and the depth of it is something that is going to help us navigate a 162-game season, and then still have really talented arms when we go into October — if we’re fortunate enough [to get there].”
In the meantime, one of the team’s biggest objectives this spring will be acclimating so many new players into a clubhouse that has already undergone significant roster change over the last several seasons.
“It takes time to build relationships, the culture,” Roberts said. “So I think, for me, it’s [about] being a facilitator and trying to forge these relationships with teammates. Because that’s going to be the lifeline of our success.”
That, and the influx of talent Friedman and the front office have banked more than $1 billion on this offseason.
“Every year is different, and for the guys that have been here for a while, especially, this is another year of change,” veteran outfielder Jason Heyward said. “But I think we all can agree — especially with guys who can relate to what it’s like to play on losing teams and then play on teams that have won — it’s nice to see your team make additions. It’s nice to see your team go for it. And I think it’s cool to be in a spot where they don’t take that for granted.”