Mets notes: Latest on Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Craig Counsell

Shohei Ohtani at Mets
Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani stands in the on-deck circle during the first inning in the first baseball game of a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

With the World Series set and on the horizon, the Mets’ offseason and its David Stearns regime is in its fourth week in place.

The multitude of questions, vacancies, and uncertainties have yet to be addressed, but in the coming weeks — especially with the completion of the World Series between the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks — things should start to take shape. 

Here’s the latest.

Mets expected to be in the thick of the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes

Former general manager Billy Eppler hinted near the trade deadline that the Mets wouldn’t be the big-money juggernaut that they were in recent winters this offseason. Even owner Steve Cohen alluded to that concept when putting things in motion on the Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander trades. But the allure of Shohei Ohtani could very well be too great to pass up. 

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported on ESPN that the Mets are expected to be “front and center,” for the free-agent superstar, who will only bat in 2024 after undergoing surgery to repair a torn UCL. 

“They have the most money and the owner who is most willing to spend. They should be there,” Passan said. “The question is, does Ohtani want to deal with all that being in New York entails? Because it’s a completely different life than what he has with the Angels…

“The idea that the Mets aren’t going to be front and center is silly. He’s arguably the most talented baseball player of all time and Steve Cohen is in the business of gathering talented baseball players.”


Kodai Senga lobbying for Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Yoshinobu Yamamoto Mets Yankees
Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto of the Orix Buffaloes pitches against the Lotte Marines in Chiba, east of Tokyo, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. Yamamoto has pitched a no-hit game for his Japanese club. (Kyodo News via AP)

Outside of Ohtani, Japanese star pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto could be the largest free agent available this offseason as he is expected to be posted by his team, the Orix Buffaloes of the NPB. 

The 25-year-old right-hander reportedly has a big fan in the Mets’ clubhouse in the form of compatriot Kodai Senga, who put together a strong rookie season in the majors after making the jump from Japan for the 2023 season. According to The Athletic’s Will Sammon, Yamamoto would have no issue being teammates with Senga — going against a previously reported notion that Japanese players don’t like sharing MLB clubhouses — while Senga has gone to Mets management and implored them to make a run at the 25-year-old righty, who has a 1.82 career ERA in Japan.


Mets get green light to talk to Counsell

Craig Counsell Mets rumors
Craig Counsell (AP Photo/Quinn Harris, File)

Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell is believed to be Stearns and the Mets’ No. 1 option for their vacant managerial position and now they’ll get to speak as soon as this week.

The Brewers granted the Mets permission to speak to the skipper before his contract runs out on Oct. 31, according to multiple reports.

Working under Stearns for nearly a decade, Counsell helped lead the small-market Brewers to five postseason appearances — new heights for his hometown team. But with his contract up in Milwaukee, there has been speculation that he would be unwilling to leave the area to reunite with Stearns. 

That doesn’t appear to be the case, according to SNY’s Andy Martino, who reported that the 53-year-old would “indeed embrace New York.” He won’t be able to speak with the Mets until Nov. 1, as his contract expires the day before.

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