The biggest trade the New York Mets or any other team could possibly make this offseason would be to pull Shohei Ohtani away from the Los Angeles Angels. The two-way superstar is a free agent after the 2023 campaign and should be on the block already.
Connecting Ohtani to the Mets is logical given the franchise’s need, the endless wealth of owner Steve Cohen, and the general manager, Billy Eppler. Eppler was the one who helped bring Ohtani to the Angels when he was their GM. Imagining Ohtani in a Mets uniform is no leap. However, his latest comments seem to direct away from a blockbuster deal this offseason.
Mets GM Billy Eppler sounds like he plans to wait for Shohei Ohtani to reach free agency
Let’s read between the lines: having no regrets about what he did at the 2022 trade deadline seems to indicate Eppler would like to keep the organization’s best prospects around. The Mets had a serious shot at winning a championship this year. One bigger trade and they may have secured the National League East title or even survived past the San Diego Padres. We’ll never know.
It’s the word “sustainable” which stands out most. Trading a haul to the Angels for Ohtani goes against the idea of sustainability. It’s sacrificing several long-term pieces for one very good one at the moment.
That doesn’t mean Ohtani won’t end up with the Mets at some point. In free agency, we’d have to imagine the Mets would be a favorite to sign him.
The Mets have been rather tame in the trade market under Steve Cohen. The Francisco Lindor/Carlos Carrasco deal remains the biggest blockbuster move. We can even look at that deal in a slightly different way. Cleveland needed to trade Lindor with his contract expiring after the 2021 season. In many ways, it’s similar to the situation the Angels find themselves in except Ohtani is a much bigger star and will cost more.
The 2022 Mets were built largely through free agency with some leftovers from old trades also contributing in major ways. Chris Bassitt was the biggest trade acquisition from the winter. Yet again, the Mets were taking on a guy on an expiring contract from a frugal ball club.
Seeing Ohtani play the Mets will remain a possibility for as long as he remains unsigned beyond 2023. Delivering many prospects to Anaheim would, however, go against the way Eppler has handled himself so far and the planned sustainability.
I’m not saying the Mets won’t pull off a trade for Ohtani. But if Eppler is true to these words, it’s not happening before Opening Day 2023.