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The Los Angeles Dodgers have had an uncharacteristically quiet offseason. While several other National League contenders have loaded up on stars, including divisional foe San Diego, the Dodgers have largely abstained from doing anything. Outside of bringing back mainstay Clayton Kershaw on his annual one-year agreement, the Dodgers' biggest addition thus far has entailed signing Shelby Miller to a big-league contract -- yes, the same Miller who, despite positive underlying traits, has struggled to find consistent success or opportunity since being traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015.

Suffice it to write that this isn't what people have come to expect from the Dodgers, particularly not given all the losses they've already suffered this offseason. 

The Dodgers have seen their starting shortstop (Trea Turner) link up with the reigning NL champion; they've non-tendered a former MVP and their starting center fielder (Cody Bellinger) only to see him sign with the upstart Cubs; they've witnessed both their leader in innings (Tyler Anderson) and in strikeout rate (Andrew Heaney) join American League West teams; and that's without accounting for a pair of relievers who have found new homes (Chris Martin, Tommy Kahnle) or current free agents like third baseman Justin Turner (owner of the second-highest on-base percentage among qualified Dodgers hitters), outfielder Joey Gallo (a failed upside play), and closer Craig Kimbrel (their leader in saves who cratered late).

These Dodgers should be active, by necessity if not by desire. So, what gives? CBS Sports has spent the past week-plus talking to various sources around the league about the Dodgers' boring winter. Here are the four explanations we've heard most often, as well as what they mean for the rest of Los Angeles' offseason.

1. The luxury tax

It's common knowledge by now that the Competitive Balance Tax has been melded into an unofficial salary cap. It's also common knowledge that the Dodgers have been one of the few franchises willing to play in the deep water, regardless of the overage penalties and repeat offender multipliers incurred. 

The Dodgers, for all their financial might and championship desires, have still shown a willingness to duck under the tax line and clear their penalties. For example, the Dodgers avoided tax penalties in each of the 2018-20 seasons before veering hard back into the red (by more than $70 million) in both the 2021 and 2022 campaigns.

The Dodgers again have a chance to reset their penalties this winter. Spotrac estimates their CBT payroll for next season at $140 million, or $90 million beneath the tax line. To put it another way, the Dodgers' CBT payroll is closer to the frugal Tampa Bay Rays ($60 million gap) than it is to the lowest tax threshold. What would normally present itself as an opportunity to go hog wild on the free-agent market might instead be viewed by Dodgers ownership as a chance to wipe away their multipliers ahead of next offseason, especially in light of the uncertainty surrounding their exact tax number.

Said variance stems from Trevor Bauer's appeal of his multi-season suspension for violating Major League Baseball's sexual assault and domestic violence policy. An arbitrator is expected to rule on Bauer's case in the near future, and that could have ramifications for the Dodgers' tax outlook in 2022 and 2023 because of Bauer's $34 million CBT number. As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times explained:

For the 2022 season, that could be an additional $18 million, if the league and the union decide to assess the tax retroactively. For the 2023 season, that could be $19 million if Bauer's salary alone put the Dodgers over the tax threshold, even more if the payroll rose and taxes were assessed at more punitive levels.

No one should pity the Dodgers here. This is simply an acknowledgement that there's more to this aspect than meets the eye. 

2. Shohei Ohtani

Let's face it. Ohtani's potential availability, either as a free agent next winter or a trade candidate beforehand, is likely casting a long shadow in L.A. The Dodgers have long coveted Ohtani, dating back to their attempt to sign him as an amateur, and it tracks if they're plotting an all-out run to obtain his services over the next 12 months. 

We don't need to explain the appeal of Ohtani, but we will anyway. The Angels two-way superstar is an historic talent, the white crow who proves that at least one player can be an above-average contributor as both a hitter and pitcher at the big-league level. No one alive has seen anything like him before, and they may never see anything like him again. 

Unprecedented players tend to receive unprecedented contracts, meaning the Dodgers might be leery of adding what they perceive as unnecessary long-term commitments to their books before they have a chance to recruit the player they most desire. Should the Dodgers have to sacrifice the upside of their 2023 roster for that effort? No. But again, this is an acknowledgement that there are other forces that can dictate how teams approach the winter, ranging from the ownership level to future plans.

3. Belief in youngsters

Were the season to begin tomorrow, the Dodgers would be positioned to run out a crop of hitters that includes five players aged 26 or younger: likely starting shortstop Gavin Lux, likely starting third baseman Miguel Vargas, potential starting outfielder James Outman, infielder Jacob Amaya, and professional hitter Michael Busch

There's certainly time remaining this winter for them to add a few veterans in place of a few of those players, but it's worth noting the Dodgers are publicly signaling their intention to lean more on youth during the upcoming season. 

"I don't think it's too much of a reach to say that five or six young kids, young ballplayers, are going to impact our ballclub," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts recently told reporters.

We can guess that Roberts means Lux and Vargas, even if they're not in starting roles. Lux, 25, had his finest showing as a big-league player to date last season, hitting for a 105 OPS+ while seeing action at a variety of positions, mostly second base and left field. Vargas, 23, didn't fare as well in a small sample size. He did bat .304/.404/.511 with 17 home runs and nearly as many walks as strikeouts in Triple-A.

If Lux and Vargas do form Los Angeles' starting left side of the infield come Opening Day, it'll be an interesting development as both have faced questions about their defensive viability on the left side of the infield. The Dodgers wouldn't be the first team to hold higher evaluations of their own young players, however.

Besides, there's nothing that would prevent the Dodgers from pivoting to Plan B should they desire in-season -- or, perhaps, even sooner than that.

4. Waiting out the market

We'll end on the possibility that the Dodgers are simply waiting on the initial wave to pass before taking care of their business. That could entail plucking up any free agents who slip through the cracks at reduced prices, or simply getting involved in the trade market, which is yet to heat up the way the free-agent market has recently.

There are other benefits to waiting. To wit, the Dodgers should gain an answer to the Bauer appeal, clearing up their CBT situation. In turn, acquiring players in trade means they're less likely to hand over the kind of long-term deals that would bloat their future payrolls ahead of their Ohtani run. And, on that note, they'll have a better idea of if Ohtani is likely to become available before next winter, too, based on the construction of the Angels roster. 

If, come spring, the Dodgers still deem their young players to still be their best options? Fair enough. The Dodgers should remain a good team next year, even if their roster is not as easily confusable with the NL's All-Star team as it has been in recent seasons.