1 major consequence with the Mets failing to live up to the hype

Seattle Mariners v Los Angeles Angels
Seattle Mariners v Los Angeles Angels / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages

The New York Mets are four games under .500. If you're reading this, you likely know that already, but it still needs to be said. There's still lots of time to get back into the race, but if the Mets can't claw their way back into the playoff picture, the team's struggles could be having a hidden effect that goes beyond the standings.

If the Mets can't begin to live up to the preseason hype, Shohei Ohtani may be off the table when free agency rolls around.

With a deep-pocketed owner that is fully committed to bringing a World Series title back to Queens, the Mets are one of the few teams with the resources and willingness to bid on a player who almost certainly will receive the most lucrative contract in baseball history. I'm speaking, of course, of two-way generational superstar Shohei Ohtani.

Ohtani is an incomparable talent whose impact on a contending team would be almost impossible to quantify. Though incoming NBA rookie Victor Wembanyama has been touted as the best prospect in the history of team sports, Ohtani has shown that he is one of the best hitters and one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, and he's done that against other major leaguers.

Barring injury, Ohtani will go down as one of the greatest players of all-time, and he may stand alone thanks to his two-way versatility. He's yet to appear in the playoffs for the Angels, but he showed that his game can translate to pressure situations when he led Japan to the World Baseball Classic championship. Any team would be blessed to have him.

Ohtani hasn't spoken much about his free agency except to say before the season, "As of now I'm an Angel and that's all I want to focus on." Not exactly a ringing endorsement for fans of the Halos to take to the bank. It stands to reason, though, that a few things will matter in securing his services for next year and beyond.

1) Money

Ohtani may not necessarily choose the team that offers the most money, but the price he's sure to command eliminates 2/3 of the league before the conversation even starts.

2) Location

Ohtani is thought to like the West Coast, which theoretically puts the Dodgers and Padres in the driver's seat, but playing in a big market could be vital to vaulting his stardom into the stratosphere. The Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, and Cubs could all take advantage of this.

3) Comfort

This one overlaps a bit with staying on the West Coast, or even staying with the Angels, but the Mets have a hidden Hanafuda card or two up their sleeves. It was rumored that when Ohtani came to the majors, he wanted to be the only Japanese star on his new team. Is that still true? Now that he's established himself as a true unicorn, Ohtani may prefer to be with a fellow countryman. Having Kodai Senga on the team could help the Mets in that regard. As an extra bonus, the Mets' general manager is Billy Eppler, who signed Ohtani out of Japan as the GM of the Angels. Knowing two familiar faces are waiting for him in Flushing could sway things the Mets' way.

4) Winning

Here's the big one, and the factor that Mets fans should be worried about most as the team continues to shoot itself in the foot. Ohtani has experienced incredible individual accolades in his short major league career, but team success has thus far eluded him. It was obvious how much playing on the big stage meant to Ohtani in the WBC, and he no doubt would love to experience playoff baseball on a team that has a chance to win a championship.

The Mets have a lot of what Ohtani should be looking for, but it's unlikely he would choose them if they finish under .500 and out of the playoffs. If the team can get hot and make a run, not only could it turn this season's narrative on its head, but it could be the difference in landing the most exciting player in baseball.