After beginning their offseason with a historic opening act, the Dodgers are in discussions for a blockbuster encore.
Just days removed from their heavily deferred $700-million signing of two-way star Shohei Ohtani, the Dodgers are in serious talks with the Tampa Bay Rays to acquire coveted starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow, a person with knowledge of the situation who was unauthorized to speak publicly confirmed Wednesday.
Under the package the sides have been discussing, the Dodgers would send Ryan Pepiot, once a highly-touted pitching prospect with a 2.76 ERA in 43 major league appearances, and young outfielder Jonny DeLuca to Tampa Bay in exchange for Glasnow and outfielder Manuel Margot.
As of Wednesday morning, the deal was not yet believed to be imminent, according to another person with knowledge of the situation.
It’s possible the package could be modified — either with other players or financial considerations — before being completed. There’s no guarantee talks won’t stall, either, especially if other interested teams make strong counteroffers.
The discussions between the Dodgers and Rays date back to last week’s winter meetings. While it’s unclear exactly when talks heated up, Rays officials were present at country music star Brad Paisley’s farm the night he hosted Dodgers brass for a gathering outside of Nashville last Tuesday.
Margot is an eight-year veteran known more for his glove than his bat, and who the Rays were looking to move this winter as a pending free-agent in line for a $10-million salary next year.
The real prize is Glasnow, a Southern California native and Hart High product who, at times in his eight-year career, has been seen as one of the game’s most talented arms.
After struggling in his first three years with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Glasnow was traded to the Rays in 2018 for Chris Archer (now a special assistant in the Dodgers front office), and quickly began to flourish.
In 2019, he went 6-1 with a 1.78 ERA in 12 starts. In 2021, he was almost as good, going 5-2 with a 2.66 ERA in 14 starts.
The only caveat with Glasnow: his track record of injuries.
In 2019, the lanky 6-foot-8 right-hander missed several months with forearm troubles. Those problems lingered through 2020, when he battled inconsistency during the pandemic-shortened season, then culminated in 2021, when Glasnow was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery.
Glasnow missed more time at the start of last season, sidelined until late May by a left oblique strain.
Once he returned to the mound, he looked more like his old productive self, going 10-7 with a 3.53 ERA in 21 starts, the most he’d made in an MLB season.
In his career, Glasnow has a 30-27 record and 3.89 ERA, 678 strikeouts in 529 ⅔ innings, and the kind of dominant frontline arsenal the Dodgers have been missing the last couple of seasons.
While Glasnow will make $25 million next year before becoming a free agent in the offseason, the 30-year-old will give the Dodgers a veteran presence alongside Walker Buehler at the top of the rotation and, at the very least, provide a starting pitching bridge to 2025, when Ohtani, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin are expected to return to the mound from injuries.
Margot could help fill out the Dodgers’ outfield, an area of need since Mookie Betts is expected to play second base almost every day next season.
To some evaluators, any deal involving Pepiot would mark a steep cost. While he battled his own injury and inconsistency problems the last couple of years, he flashed his high-caliber potential late last season, posting a 2.14 ERA in eight starts or bulk-relief appearances down the stretch.
Then again, according to the person with knowledge of the situation, the Dodgers aren’t the only team in serious talks with the Rays over Glasnow.
And while losing Pepiot would be a blow to their young pitching depth, their highly-touted pipeline is filled with other promising young pitchers nearing MLB readiness.
There has been social media buzz in recent days surrounding another Rays outfielder, Randy Arozarena — especially after he posted a picture on Instagram of him and Ohtani following Ohtani’s signing with the Dodgers. The Rays’ urgency to move the 28-year-old star, however, isn’t believed to be as high, and any deal involving him would likely be more complex than the one the teams have thus far discussed.
The Dodgers have other irons in the fire, too, most notably their pursuit of star Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto. On Tuesday, the club met with Yamamoto at Dodger Stadium, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. And while the team will face stiff competition from the New York Yankees and New York Mets, among others, a dream scenario of adding Ohtani and Yamamoto this offseason remains alive.
In the meantime, though, the Dodgers aren’t waiting around.
They are working on a potential deal for Glasnow, hopeful of parlaying the momentum of their Ohtani signing into another momentous offseason move.