Shohei Ohtani's shock signing with the Dodgers quickly made laughingstocks out of a few teams — namely, the Giants and Blue Jays. It wasn't necessarily these teams' or their front offices' faults; the Giants were said to have made Ohtani the same exact offer as the Dodgers, and god knows Blue Jays fans were strung along in one of the most tragic journalistic missteps in recent history, despite the fact that their team likely made a competitive bid for Ohtani.
The Mets were also said to have skin in the game at some point, but their star had faded at the end. Although their turn for embarrassment would come quickly when Yoshinobu Yamamoto used them to drive up his price then promptly signed with the Dodgers, they also have a little bit of egg on their faces from the entire Ohtani saga.
Mets owner Steve Cohen told Will Sammon of The Athletic (subscription required) that Nez Balelo, Ohtani's agent, never reached out to him personally, which seemingly shuts down the idea that the Mets were ever really in the running for Ohtani.
Shohei Ohtani's agent never reached out to Steve Cohen and the Mets before Dodgers signing
This new detail makes some of the Mets' strange behavior in their pursuit of Yamamoto (i.e. trying to pass off not playing with Ohtani as an upside) make a little more sense. Clearly, they were embarrassed that despite the amount of money they're willing to spend on their players and the talk surrounding Ohtani's free agency making them seem like real contenders, they were unable to get even a cursory call from the biggest free agent of the decade.
The Mets find themselves in a similar boat to the Giants — pawns and stepping stones in the pursuit of free agents' ultimate goal: Los Angeles. It's not necessarily the Mets' fault, but also ... is it? Cohen's strategy of spending exorbitantly hasn't worked, and he openly admitted that 2024 will be a transitional year for the team, which doesn't exactly inspire any warm feelings in free agents who would be joining the team in 2024. They continue to have spotty records, filled with perhaps too much inconsistency for free agents to accept.
This isn't the first time other teams have made fools of themselves and the Dodgers have emerged triumphant, and it won't be the last, but there's more than a little satisfaction in knowing that the Dodgers can spend heavily and win games, instead of just the former. Go figure!