June 21, 2024

Tyler Glasnow could have positioned himself for an even bigger payday in free agency next winter, but when the Dodgers asked him to agree to a four-year, $111.5-million extension as a condition of last week’s trade from Tampa Bay, there was no need for greed.

The former Newhall Hart High School star grew up a huge Dodgers fan, idolizing former slugger Shawn Green and a young left-hander named Clayton Kershaw, and he always envisioned pitching in Chavez Ravine, so his approach to negotiations with his hometown club was to channel that old Fram oil filter commercial from the early 1970s:

You can pay me now, or pay me later.

“This is somewhere I’ve wanted to be my entire life,” the 30-year-old right-hander said on a video call Monday. “They were very bullish on trying to get me, and I appreciate the fact they thought so highly of me. I get to go home. It’s like the best possible scenario …

“There could be a potential downside for not signing something [now] and a potential upside [to go to free agency], but I was never super interested in trying to get as much money as I possibly could. It’s a lot more about being somewhere I want to be.”

For the 6-foot-8, 225-pound Glasnow, who had a bounce-back in 2023 after four injury-plagued seasons, that will be with a perennial World Series-contending big-market club, one with pockets deep enough to sign two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani to a 10-year, $700-million contract last week.

“It’s such a similar feel to the Rays — everyone is super cool, winning is everything, but not at the expense of a personality, culture is very important to them,” Glasnow said. “I guess the only difference is that the Dodgers have a lot more money.”

Indeed, the Dodgers have already pushed their competitive balance tax payroll for 2024 beyond $250 million. They’ve had one of baseball’s top five payrolls for 10 straight years and still hope to add another starting pitcher this winter. The Rays have had one of baseball’s six lowest payrolls for 12 straight years.

The Dodgers have also won 10 of the last 11 National League West titles, they’ve been to the World Series three times since 2017, beating the Rays for the pandemic-shortened 2020 title, and the top three batters in their order — Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Ohtani — have combined to win four most valuable player awards.

Ohtani won’t be able to pitch in 2024 while he recovers from Tommy John surgery, but he sent Glasnow a video last week saying he looked forward to “hitting some home runs” for Glasnow in 2024 and joining him in the Dodgers rotation in 2025.

“It was awesome,” Glasnow said of the video. “What he’s able to do on a baseball field is nothing short of insanity. I think his recruitment worked. … I’ve watched the Dodgers from afar for so long. Even last year, they were so good, and then when Shohei signed, I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to be on that team.’ I’m ecstatic.”

Glasnow, who was acquired with reserve outfielder Manuel Margot for young right-hander Ryan Pepiot and outfielder Jonny DeLuca, was set to make $25 million in 2024, bringing the Dodgers commitment to him to $136.5 million over five years.

If Glasnow can continue to pitch like he did last season, when he recovered from a left-oblique strain to go 10-7 with a 3.53 ERA in a career-high 21 starts, striking out 162 and walking 37 in 120 innings, it will be a good investment.

Glasnow was one of the American League’s best pitchers when healthy, but he made only 49 starts in the previous four full seasons because of elbow problems that first cropped up in 2019, when he suffered an ulnar collateral ligament UCL) sprain.

Glasnow underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2021, which the pitcher described as a “hybrid procedure” in which Dr. Keith Meister, a Texas-based orthopedic surgeon, reinforced the replacement ligament with a synthetic collagen band.

“So in my brain, I have double the strength,” Glasnow said. “It healed, and it’s just a night-and-day difference. It’s nice to be able to throw, to be able to warm up quickly and not have to do a million things to get my arm ready, and to wake up and not be sore,”

Glasnow limited opponents to a .209 average and .617 on-base-plus-slugging percentage last season. His four-seam fastball, which has a natural cutting action, averaged 96.4 mph, a tick down from his 97.0-mph average in 2021, and his slider averaged 90.1 mph.

His put-away pitch is an 83.9-mph overhand curve that averaged 52.6 inches of vertical drop and held opponents to an .095 average (10 for 105) in at-bats ending with the pitch in 2023. Glasnow ranked in the 97th percentile of all pitchers with a 33.4% strikeout rate and the 95th percentile with a 35.2% whiff rate last season.

“Our pitching group dove in [to Glasnow’s history] and felt good,” Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes said. “I think a lot of it is betting on how he’s feeling, how good of an athlete he is, and our performance and medical group feeling like he’s in a good position to kind of take off.”

Glasnow will give the Dodgers a veteran presence alongside Walker Buehler at the top of the rotation next season and will team with Ohtani at the top of a 2025 rotation that could include Buehler if he re-signs as a free agent, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin if they recover from Tommy John surgery and young right-hander Bobby Miller.

Glasnow is already looking forward to his first start in Dodger Stadium, where he has pitched only once in his eight-year career, a disastrous relief appearance for the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 6-4 Dodgers win on July 4, 2018.

Glasnow entered in the fifth inning and did not retire a batter, hitting Justin Turner with a pitch, walking Cody Bellinger and Yasmani Grandal and giving up a two-run single to Chris Turner before being pulled. Not exactly the way he envisioned it as a kid.

“I used to go to the games, and I remember sitting in the stands and looking at the players in the dugout and having an overwhelming feeling of jealousy, of like, ‘I have to go to school tomorrow, and you guys get to play baseball,’ ” Glasnow said.

“So, the fact that it’s come full circle … it definitely gives me butterflies. I’m extremely excited to finally go and get my first start at home as a Dodger.”

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