The New York Mets were supposed to be one of the top contenders to sign Shohei Ohtani in free agency. Now that the Mets have blown up MLB's most expensive roster by moving Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and several others at the 2023 trade deadline, their pursuit of Shohei Ohtani is up in the air. If what Mets General Manager Billy Eppler told Scherzer is true, New York won't be a threat to lure Shohei Ohtani away from the Los Angeles Angels.
Scherzer approved a trade from the Mets to the Texas Rangers because Eppler told him that New York is building for 2025-2026, according to The Athletic. While Ohtani wasn't mentioned by name, Eppler's comments sure seem to indicate that New York has no plans to meet his asking price this upcoming offseason.
“I was like, ‘So the team is not going to be pursuing free agents this offseason or assemble a team that can compete for a World Series next year?’” Scherzer told The Athletic, recalling his recent conversation with Eppler. “‘No, we’re not going to be signing the upper-echelon guys. We’re going to be on the smaller deals within free agency. ‘24 is now looking to be more of a kind of transitory year.’”
Ohtani is the very definition of an “upper-echelon” free agent. With two months of regular-season games left at the trade deadline, Ohtani is all but guaranteed to win his second AL MVP award in three years. The slugger and stud pitcher is expected to command a record-setting contract, one that could exceed $500 million in total worth.
Eppler hasn't exactly been consistent when talking about the Mets' plans. After trading Scherzer, Eppler told reporters that New York wasn't in the middle of a fire sale. He even suggested that the Mets would enter next season as one of the favorites to win the 2024 World Series.
With Scherzer, Verlander and other productive veterans being traded, it would be hard to call the Mets' strategy something other than a fire sale.
The Angels are considered long shots to re-sign Ohtani because they haven't given him a chance to compete for a championship. It's looking less and less likely that New York will give Ohtani what he's looking for as arguably the greatest free agent in MLB history.