What Los Angeles Angels No Sale Means for Mets, Yankees Chances of Landing Shohei Ohtani

What Los Angeles Angels No Sale Means for Mets, Yankees Chances of Landing Shohei Ohtani

What Los Angeles Angels No Sale Means for Mets, Yankees Chances of Landing Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani / USA TODAY Sports/SNY edited image

When he owned the Los Angeles Angels Arte Moreno announced on Monday that it would not sell the team, as it had previously planned to do, the initial reaction in the industry was, according to one well-connected executive, “shock”.

That sentiment, of course, quickly gave way to a more specific set of questions: What did the news mean for the two-way superstar Shohei Ohtanithe future with the team? And, here in New York, what did it mean for Ohtani’s chances of ending up with the Yankees or the Mets?

The strong perception around the league was that Moreno’s decision to walk away from more than $2.5 billion made it far less likely that Ohtani, a free agent after this season, would stay in Anaheim. He was already seen as a potential suitor, but no one knows what a new owner could have done to convince him to commit.

Maybe, if the Angels had found theirs Steve Cohen To breathe new life into the franchise, it would have been a better spot for Ohtani. But Moreno’s mismanagement is so well established that there seems little reason why Ohtani would choose to stay.

A person familiar with the Angels organization predicted the year would now go this way for Ohtani: The Angels will hold him for a few months to see if they can stay in contention.

If they don’t, general manager Perry Minassian would have to seek permission from a contingent owner to solicit offers for him before the trade deadline. If Moreno allows it, the stakes will be extremely high.

It’s very hard to imagine the Mets being willing to sacrifice several top prospects this summer for two or three months of Ohtani. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it won’t.

Except …

Look, we all saw Cohen’s impulsive pursuit Carlos Correa last month, which began in earnest about four hours before he and agent Scott Boras reached an agreement. The Mets owner wants the top players in the league and is willing to be aggressive in pursuing them. It’s in the realm of possibility that he tells Eppler to trade Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty and more about Ohtani, and then offers Ohtani $450 million on the spot?

The Mets would probably say no, that’s not in the realm of possibility. They’d say there’s zero chance they’ll trade for Ohtani. And they would almost certainly be right. It’s just that with Cohen, we can never rule anything out completely.

As for the Yankees, if they refused to trade even one of them Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza last July for Luis Castillo, who might have helped them win the World Series, would they do it for anyone? As with the Mets, a trade with the Yanks seems highly unlikely. For what it’s worth, both New York teams talked to the Angels about Ohtani last year and got nowhere on a deal.

Ohtani’s best chance to land in New York, then, is via free agency — not a shocking conclusion, but one reinforced by this week’s news.

According to sources, Cohen has already spoken openly to Mets upper-level people about pursuing Ohtani this winter. The Yankees were aggressive enough in exploring a trade for Ohtani last July, so they can’t be ruled out.

However, three factors will work against the two teams:

1) As an MLB executive pointed out, none of the seven finalists to sign Ohtani in 2017 were East Coast teams. In fact, the Chicago Cubs were the only club on the list that did not play in the AL or NL West. The Yanks played him aggressively then and didn’t even make the final round of suitors.

2) The entire industry expects the Dodgers to make a serious run at Ohtani next winter (though that doesn’t rule out Cohen outdoing them).

3) Both the Yankees and Mets, knowing the long-term luxury tax flexibility, will have a hard time matching that target with the $400-500 million that Ohtani could command. This type of contract, should either team prove willing to offer it, would have to be extended over several years to lighten the average annual value. the Yankees recently did it with DJ LeMahieuand the Mets did it with Brandon Nimmoand would have done so with Correa if the sides were able to complete their 12-year deal.

Would Ohtani, who will turn 30 in the first year of his new contract, scare teams who can’t predict the viability of his unprecedented skill set? Or will his production, star power and business/marketing value inspire the Mets and Yanks to make a historic bid?

We’re much more likely to find out in November than July, regardless of Moreno’s reversal on selling his team.

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