Who will actually compete with Dodgers in Shohei Ohtani free agency chase?

Los Angeles Angels v Oakland Athletics
Los Angeles Angels v Oakland Athletics / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

On Tuesday night, Carlos Correa became the third shortstop to find gainful employment this offseason through his age-41 season, joining Trea Turner ($300 million in total earnings) and Xander Bogaerts ($280 million) with his mammoth 13-year, $350 million pact to torment the Dodgers in San Francisco well into the next era of MLB action.

That's cute. They're all cute. Wonder what Shohei Ohtani gets next offseason, considering he hits like Aaron Judge and pitches like Carlos Rodón. Combined, that pair of All-Stars seems likely to earn around $560 million in total. Ohtani wouldn't ... you don't ... you THINK?!

At the moment, it seems the Dodgers have every intention of signing him away from that team in Anaheim; why do you think Gavin Lux is likely to be their Opening Day shortstop?

The key questions in Ohtani's forthcoming free agency are: Will he be traded first? (No.) How high will the pricetag soar? (You already know.) And will anyone be getting in the Dodgers' way in their efforts to secure his services?

That last one's ... tough. It feels like ... it feels like only one team can swim in those waters, right? And will they? Will Steve Cohen and Billy Eppler's New York Mets make Andrew Friedman's life a living hell, or is next year's biggest free agent sum all but earmarked already?

Can anyone afford to battle Los Angeles Dodgers for Shohei Ohtani in 2023-24 free agency?

Short answer? You have to stretch your brain a little bit to find non-Mets options.

The New York Yankees seem reluctant to pass the Steve Cohen Tax of $293 million, and will pass the threshold right below it if they do ... well, anything more this offseason (Carlos Rodón, a left fielder like Andrew Benintendi, various bits and pieces). Plus, Ohtani already denied the Yankees the opportunity to bid on him straight out of Japan, back when they were the theoretical favorites for his services.

The San Francisco Giants tried to give Aaron Judge $360 million and instead gave Correa 350/360ths of that. They'll be in play to add more stars next winter, but probably not of Ohtani's caliber. The Seattle Mariners? They're also staying out of free agency this time around, but that's mainly due to long-term commitments to Julio Rodríguez and Luis Castillo. He'd be a wonderful fit there, but it feels unlikely.

That leaves the Mets, a team with $238 million worth of CBT commitments in 2024. Considering they seemed ready to offload the salaries of Carlos Carrasco, Eduardo Escobar and James McCann to make room for Carlos Correa in a payroll that recently stretched past $347 million, they could probably find some room for Ohtani alongside Bobby Bonilla and Bret Saberhagen on next year's ledger.

The Dodgers, though they don't possess Cohen's unyielding dedication to doing the wildest thing possible, will have much more financial flexibility next winter. Their payroll? Just $90 million committed, including a $10 million club option on Max Muncy and a $6.5 million club option on Daniel Hudson.

In other words? Next to nothing but Steve Cohen's ego and some affinity for the Big Apple is stopping the Dodgers next offseason from giving Ohtani a free pass down the freeway.