The Los Angeles Dodgers are still looking to shed a few million (especially after acquiring Miguel Rojas) so they can have a comfortable cushion under the first luxury tax threshold in the event they need to make an addition or two at the trade deadline.
All of their strategic, financially-conscious decision making over the last few months has ostensibly gone toward manifesting a Shohei Ohtani signing next winter. It's sort of become a de facto pairing at this point based on all the chatter among fans and pundits.
But are folks forgetting about the financial behemoth across the country? The New York Mets and Steve Cohen, who is worth $16 billion, remain a legitimate threat to any team and any owner in free agency, no matter how strong the rumors or links are.
He out-bid the Dodgers for Max Scherzer. He did it again with Justin Verlander. He nearly pulled off a major Carlos Correa coup (and probably should have if Correa was willing to bet on his long-term health).
And if you ask Andy McCullough of The Athletic (he used to cover the Dodgers, too), he thinks the Mets are the "favorite" to land Ohtani next offseason if we're talking about this from a money perspective.
Dodgers might need to legitimately fear Mets in Shohei Ohtani chase
"Handicapping the bidding for Shohei Ohtani is a challenge because the player controls the process, and no one is exactly sure what Ohtani wants. Would he prefer to stay on the West Coast? Will he demand suitors to demonstrate they can form-fit their roster around his talents? Does he value winning above all? Or does he just want the most money? We really don’t know. But if he wants the most money, the Mets have the most money. For that blunt-edged reason, I’d make them the favorite."- Andy McCullough of The Athletic
The important note there is that Ohtani, assuming he puts up a third straight otherworldly season on both sides of the ball, will be calling the shots. Where he wants to go. How much money he wants. What fun luxurious add-ons he wants attached to his next deal.
But if it comes down to the most money, what's stopping Cohen, who is worth more than three times more than the Dodgers franchise? And after whiffing on Correa in agonizing fashion given how long everything played out, why would Ohtani not be the sign-at-all-costs free agent for the Mets next year now that there aren't any stars remaining this offseason?
Cohen will never care about resetting the payroll to avoid a luxury tax payment. He'll never care about paying an extra $50 million if it means cutting out all the competition beneath him. He showed that the last two offseasons when he gave Scherzer $58 million more than the Dodgers offered and Verlander an undisclosed amount (it likely shattered whatever the Dodgers were considering offering).
All we're saying? Keep your hopes high for Ohtani, but don't etch this in stone. And pray that the team's ownership group is ready to go above and beyond, because that's what it'll likely take.