2021 MVP Ohtani linked to Mets’ spotlight by Buster Onley: How Realistic is It?

Buster Onley links Ohtani to the Mets
Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani (17) reacts after the top of the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals in Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday, June 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Could Shohei Ohtani really leave Los Angeles for New York?

To ESPN Reporter, Buster Onley, don’t count the Mets out.

In a segment on Get Up Thursday morning, the long-time baseball reporter spoke in depth about why a front office connection could lead to huge potential landing spot for the AL MVP.

“There are only 16 months before Ohtani can become a free agent.” Onley said on the show. “The guy who was most influential in luring Ohtani to the Angels was Billy Eppler. He’s now with the Mets working for the richest owner in baseball.”

The first player since Babe Ruth to both be an every day hitter and starting pitcher, Ohtani came to the Angels in 2017 and has been one of the biggest names in baseball history. This season alone, Ohtani has 15 homers, 45 RBI and a 2.90 ERA in 12 starts. 

Ohtani has one final year of team control in 2023 before he becomes a free agent in 2024. The superstar would be only 29 years old then and be in line for the largest contract in baseball history. 

So just how likely is it for Ohtani to not only leave the city of angels, but to also head to Flushing?

How does Ohtani fit on the Mets Payroll

The New York Mets have one of the highest payrolls in baseball right now. With the new CBA’s “Cohen Tax” the complications of going over the newly created final threshold could deter some owners from making a large deal like this. 

Steve Cohen is not one of those owners though. And the payroll situation gets a lot better soon.

With the Robinson Cano contract expected to be off the books by 2024, the Mets are expected to have $107 million committed to the payroll before arbitration raises. Deals for ace, Jacob Degrom and stars like Pete Alonso could alter that number, but the Mets are in a fantastic position after 2023 to land a big fish on the free agent market if they so choose. 

There’s also the fact that Steve Cohen has also said the team would “probably” exceed the highest tax threshold in 2022 so if nothing else, the Mets have an owner willing and able to strike at any and all top players. 

The Eppler Connection

Eppler had a big 2022 off-season with bringing in Max Scherzer, Mark Canha and Starling Marte to the Mets. His prior connection with Ohtani can’t hurt the Mets chances, right?

It’s fair to point out that Ohtani chose to be on the West Coast when he came to Major League Baseball. While the Mets were able to coax Max Scherzer to move out of the west coast, that doesn’t mean the same thing will happen again.

It’s also fair to note that while Ohtani is the best player in baseball right now, the Angels have him for two more years of team control and can work on a long-term deal with him in that span. 

Mike Trout, Ohtani’s teammate, signed a 12 year extension with the Angels that is the largest in baseball in 2019. While Trout and Ohtani both want to win, the comfort of living in LA under a lucrative deal may be more than anything the Mets could offer. 

Buster Onley can stir up the Mets fans with his latest link to Ohtani and the Mets. But with two years and a lot of questions surrounding both teams this year, the Mets may not be as focused on the superstar as ESPN would want them to be. 

The Mets are back in action tomorrow night in Miami for a three game series with the Marlins. First pitch is expected to start at 6:40. 

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