A once-in-a-lifetime talent in Shohei Ohtani could be on the trade market this winter and if that is the case, the Mets are expected to be in on him.
The star pitcher and slugger is believed to be unhappy with his current situation with the Los Angeles Angels having not reached the playoffs in any of his first five seasons with the team.
“I have to say that August and September, in particular, felt longer to me than last year,” Ohtani said last week (h/t Koji Ueda, Associated Press). “We were not able to play as many good games as we would like, including 14 consecutive losses. So I have a rather negative impression of this season.”
While the Angels have maintained their stance that the 28-year-old is not available, they haven’t exactly turned calls away — at least from the Mets. According to CBS Sports’ Jim Bowden, Mets general manager Billy Eppler has been in talks with the Angels regarding Ohtani.
Eppler was the Angels’ general manager for six years from 2015-2020, a tenure that included the signing of the highly-touted and prized Ohtani in 2017.
Ohtani has lived up to his mythic expectations as baseball’s greatest dual threat since the early days of Babe Ruth.
Over his last two seasons, he’s posted a 162-game average of 40 home runs and 98 RBI with a .918 OPS while going 24-11 and as a pitcher with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.046 WHIP.
The game has never seen anything like this — and he’s going to be a free agent following the 2023 season.
If the Angels believe they don’t have a chance at re-signing him, then the bidding war for Ohtani will be one of the fiercest the game has ever seen. For the Mets, that means they’d have to give up an exorbitant amount of young talent to pry him away from the Angels.
Trade talks are likely a non-starter if they don’t include catcher Francisco Alvarez, the No. 1 rated prospect in baseball who made his debut during the final week of the regular season. A package would also have to include two of the organization’s other top non-catcher prospects in Brett Baty and Alex Ramirez along with at least one or two more youngsters to sweeten the pot.
For a team that has done well to rebuild a shallow pool of young talent, a deal for Ohtani would gut most of that work. That being said, how often does a player like Ohtani come around where he can check off a pair of needs in power bat and top-tier pitcher all in one fell swoop?