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How Yoshinobu Yamamoto signing affects the Dodgers’ World Series odds

Los Angeles’ rotation — and 2024 outlook — is a whole lot different after landing the two biggest free agents on the market.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto of Team Japan looks on while pitching during Game 8 of Pool B between Team Japan and Team Australia at Tokyo Dome on Sunday, March 12, 2023 in Bunkyo City, Japan. Photo by Yuki Taguchi/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images

After weeks of speculation, the Los Angeles Dodgers managed to pull off their second shocker of the offseason, landing Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto on a whopping 12year, $325 million deal. From pretty much the moment the dust settled on the Shohei Ohtani signing, all eyes in L.A. turned to Yamamoto — the top pitcher on the market (non-Ohtani division) and exactly the kind of ace the team needed given the injury-ravaged state of its starting rotation. We knew that Ohtani would make this offense even more fearsome than it already was, and with Yamamoto now in tow (in addition to new acquisition Tyler Glasnow), the Dodgers’ rotation looks a lot different than it did a couple of weeks ago.

But what about the team’s odds of winning it all? The Dodgers suffered another early postseason exit last year, winning 100 games only to get swept by the upstart Diamondbacks in the NLCS. There are still holes to fill — outfield depth, even more pitching — but following Ohtani with Yamamoto is still the biggest statement of intent the Dodgers could’ve made. To get a sense of what oddsmakers think of the signing, let’s take a look at the early odds to win the World Series next season, courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

2024 World Series odds: Where do the Dodgers fall?

As it turns out, signing the biggest free agent and then the next biggest name on the market ever generally increases your title chances. On Nov. 21, the Dodgers were listed at +750 to win it all in 2024, the second-shortest odds in the league just behind the Braves (+700) and narrowly ahead of the Astros (+900). They moved up to +550, the shortest odds in the league, after landing Ohtani. Now, their status as favorites has been even further cemented:

Dodgers +380
Braves +700
Yankees +900
Astros +1000
Rangers +1100
Phillies +1100
Orioles +1600
Blue Jays +1800
Mariners +2200
Twins +2500
Cubs +2800
Mets +2800
Red Sox +3000
Diamondbacks +3000
Cardinals +3000
Giants +3000
Rays +3500
Padres +3500
Reds +4000
Brewers +4000
Tigers +6000
Guardians +6000
Marlins +7000
Pirates +8000
Angels +10000
Royals +12000
Nationals +12000
White Sox +14000
Rockies +25000
Athletics +25000

That’s a serious jump, and it’s not hard to see why given Ohtani and Yamamoto’s impact. After signing Ohtani, the big question was what Andrew Friedman would do to address the team’s rotation. The answer? Trading for Tyler Glasnow and nabbing the top available name on the open market; not bad work. Still, it’s tough to recommend buying on the Dodgers right now given how little juice there is here — and how competitive the NL still figures to be.

Yes, Yamamoto is a huge coup. But I still have questions about the state of this pitching staff, given Glasnow and Buehler’s injury histories and the fact that the team’s other two starters, Bobby Miller and Emmet Sheehan, have yet to throw more than 140 innings in a single season. Keeping all of these guys fresh come October will be a tall task for Dave Roberts and Co., and that’s assuming that Glasnow, Buehler or anyone else doesn’t suffer yet another serious setback; hardly a sure thing.

Are the Dodgers a deserving World Series favorite? Of course; they have the most loaded top of the lineup in the league, plus two aces in Glasnow and Yamamoto. But the Braves can say nearly the same thing — heck, their lineup is probably deeper than L.A.’s overall — and Atlanta comes with better odds at the moment. Better to let other teams make their significant moves and hope that the Dodgers’ number comes down a bit before you dive in. The baseball postseason is a notoriously fickle mistress, one that historically isn’t kind to prohibitive favorites.