Most frustrating team possible emerges as Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani rival

Los Angeles Angels v San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Angels v San Diego Padres / Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Dodgers have made no secret of their ultimate goal of the 2022-23 offseason: take some inexpensive shots (Noah Syndergaard, JD Martinez, JP Feyereisen), bank on the kids, and reload for the pursuit of the highest-tier free agent in recent MLB history next offseason in Shohei Ohtani.

Backup plan? There is no backup plan. Plan B looks like a rerun of this offseason, something Dodgers fans will not stand for two years in a row -- especially after spending 2022 laughing at the Giants for letting their top targets escape.

The most encouraging part of the forthcoming Ohtani pursuit -- other than the Dodgers' obvious declaration of intentions, indicating that they won't be beat -- is the low number of teams that have the financial wherewithal to dip their toes in the pool.

Steve Cohen's Mets, GM'd by Billy Eppler and fresh off missing out on Carlos Correa after declaring him the missing piece? That one's obvious. Cohen's pockets are bottomless, and it might come down to a matter of west coast preference for Ohtani (or, at least, the Dodgers are crossing their fingers it will).

Which brings us to the newly-minted worst-case scenario. Apparently, the Padres are not deterred by the Xander Bogaerts deal and the looming likelihood of Manny Machado's opt out and his eventual re-signing at over $300 million more. Per Bob Nightengale, Peter Seidler and the Pads intend to be all in on Ohtani, too.

Los Angeles Dodgers could battle San Diego Padres for Shohei Ohtani

Nightengale went as far as to call the Padres the "stiffest competition" for the Dodgers in the Ohtani chase next offseason, which shouldn't stun anyone who watched them attempt to blow the Yankees out of the water at the finish line for Aaron Judge with a ~$400 million offer.

Perhaps that declarative statement was spurred on somewhat by Nightengale's recent collaborations with Scott Boras, though. The very same column featured a full-throated repudiation of the Mets' recent tactics in the Carlos Correa saga:

"“I don’t understand the Mets. I gave them all of the information. We had them talk to four doctors. They knew the issue the Giants had. And yet, they still call the same doctor the Giants used for his opinion. There was no new information. So why negotiate a contract if you were going to rely on the same doctor? “It was different with the Giants because a doctor had an opinion they didn’t know about. But the Mets had notice of this. They knew the opinion of the Giants. So why did you negotiate when you know this thing in advance?" "

Scott Boras

Perhaps the well-placed Padres bullet was the result of sour grapes? Or maybe all bets are off, and the Pads truly do have the limitless, risk-inclusive budget the Mets could only dream of?

Either way, there are only two serious non-Dodgers contenders for Ohtani at the moment, and they're the two worst possible teams. What's the opposite of a confidence booster?

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