MLB insider thinks wild Shohei Ohtani bidding war between Dodgers and Mets will destroy financial limits

Japan Training Session
Japan Training Session / Kenta Harada/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Dodgers have plenty of problems to deal with in the immediate future, but another is already arising for when November/December rolls around. Things really haven't been going great since the end of the 2022 regular season.

Though LA still sports a roster with some of the best players in the game, a lot of shine was removed this offseason when guys like Trea Turner, Tyler Anderson, Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger (among others) departed. The two offseasons prior also featured Corey Seager, Max Scherzer, Joe Kelly, Jake McGee, Kenley Jansen, Joc Pederson and Kiké Hernandez leaving in free agency.

You bet the Dodgers had a plan in mind, though! Shohei Ohtani has been a reported target of theirs over the past couple years, and LA has had to create financial flexibility to merely make that a possibility. Ohtani is expected to land the largest contract in MLB history when he hits free agency after the 2023 season.

The other teams linked to the star two-way player have predominantly been the New York Mets and San Diego Padres. The Angels were always a possible destination, but their inability to form a competitive team during Ohtani's tenure (and for years before that) has them on the outside looking in.

So that makes it a three-horse race ... with some good news and bad news. The good news is that the Padres are hoping to sign Juan Soto and Josh Hader to contract extensions before the end of 2023. If both of those happen, it's almost impossible to see San Diego adding an historic dollar figure on top of that. Those rumors might also be signaling that the Padres know they don't have an inside track in the Ohtani sweepstakes.

The bad news? That means they'll get in a bidding war with Steve Cohen and the Mets. ESPN's Buster Olney thinks it could get ugly if that's the reality.

Dodgers Rumors: Shohei Ohtani contract to reach $600 million?

The price might've gone up, too, after Ohtani clubbed a home run to dead center over the weekend on one knee. This guy is unreal.

But seriously, $600 million?! Wasn't a projected 10 years and $500 million already enough? Maybe Aaron Judge's nine-year, $360 million contract altered the market, because the New York Yankees star is making $40 million annually while being on par with Ohtani's offensive productive ... and not providing an impact on the mound (where Ohtani is also a top pitcher in the AL).

Or maybe it's just the fact that Cohen, the richest owner in baseball, will be able to jack up the price as high as he wants to sign Ohtani and cut out all the competition beneath the Mets.

It'll depend what Ohtani wants. He's already going to get the most money in league history. Does he want to go above and beyond on that front ... or does he want the most money and comfortability in arguably the most favorable setting in the league?

"The Dodgers offer an enticing combination of pluses: They are perennial winners in a geographically desirable area for him (five of his seven finalists five years ago were on the West Coast), and they obviously have the wherewithal. Good thing the Dodgers cut up to $40 million out of their payroll, as they will try to lock up star pitcher Julio Urias, also a free agent after the year."

Jon Heyman, the New York Post

If the Dodgers keep Urías, they'll maintain one of the best foundations in the sport accompanied by a pipeline of young players that features Miguel Vargas, James Outman, Bobby Miller, Gavin Stone, Ryan Pepiot, Diego Cartaya and more. The Mets have a comparable situation, but many would argue the Dodgers have the better one.

Ohtani chose wrong the first time. It might be in his best interest to deliberate a bit more diligently for his next chapter.