Despite recent rumors that the New York Mets could be players for Japanese star Shohei Ohtani, they face too many obstacles to land him.
To say that the New York Mets face a critical off-season would be a supreme understatement. Coming off one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history, the Mets find themselves in need of upgrades at several positions. Japanese two way sensation Shohei Ohtani is nearing posting to the Major Leagues–a star player who could galvanize the Mets fanbase. Rumors have recently circulated at the General Manager Meetings connecting Ohtani to the Mets, but don’t expect him to be wearing orange and blue on opening day.
New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson recently stated that he doesn’t “think there is a downside in looking into it,” which gave fans a slight glimmer of hope that the team could pursue one of the most sought after international free agents since the turn of the century.
As Alderson continued, he told the media that a pursuit of Ohtani could also create “a false set of expectations among fans that have to be tempered. This guy can go to any one of 30 teams.”
Translation: Don’t get your hopes up.
Why Alderson even gave fans the slightest belief that the Mets could pursue the 23 year old phenom was nothing more than a public relations play. He doesn’t want to rule out signing a star player this early in the off-season and have to deal with the backlash that would come from it. In all fairness, it’s hard to blame him for taking such a stance–it’s his job to keep us interested in some capacity.
If and when Ohtani is posted, he likely will command a posting fee of $20 million. It’s hard to imagine the Mets, a team committed to slashing payroll, spending that type of cash on a single player–even though he can sign for a maximum of just $3.5 million. If he were the final piece to a championship puzzle, the Mets might be able to make a legitimate run at him. However, they have far too many other holes to plug with a limited budget.
Alderson has already expressed an interest in upgrading the bullpen, acquiring a second baseman and maybe pursuing someone who can play first base and a little corner outfield. That kind of shopping list might be too great for the amount of money the Mets have available–not even factoring in a run at Ohtani.
The Mets payroll situation has and continues to be an issue. While plenty of teams have constructed championship caliber rosters with mid tier payrolls, the Mets can’t possibly use that excuse playing in the New York media market. The last high profile international free agent they signed was Kaz Matsui. Yikes.
The GM meetings at least gave us insight into Alderson’s priorities heading into 2018. While speculation has grown as to who the Mets could pursue, it’s pretty clear which free agents routes they won’t be exploring.
The MLB Winter Meetings are next, taking place from December 10-14 in Orlando, Florida. Get your popcorn ready.