MLB Rumors: Why the Yankees and Mets never had a chance at Shohei Ohtani

The New York Yankees and Mets haven't been heavily linked to free agent Shohei Ohtani. There seems to be a reason why, according to a report.

Apr 20, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) reacts
Apr 20, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) reacts / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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It's rare a player the caliber of Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani hits free agency. Not only is he one of the top sluggers in the game, but he's also a great starting pitcher. Even so, there aren't many details regarding his free agency process, due in part to Ohtani wanting to keep everything private.

What is known, per USA Today's Bob Nightengale is that the likely finalists for the two-time American League MVP are the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays, and Angels.

Given the star caliber of Ohtani, it can be viewed as shocking that neither the New York Yankees or Mets are listed. The Yankees, despite recent struggles with player signings and acquisitions, can open up the checkbook to bring in a star player when they want to. The Mets, meanwhile, can back up a Brinks truck with team owner Steve Cohen. So why are neither team being linked to Ohtani heavily?

New York Post columnist Jon Heyman wrote about what a clubhouse source told him about Ohtani's free agency, such as his preference to play for the Dodgers or Blue Jays if he were to leave the Angels (comments made during the season). In regards to playing for the Yankees or Mets, Ohtani "couldn't see himself playing in New York," per the clubhouse source.

Heyman notes that Ohtani's feelings about playing in New York were known during his free agency back in 2017. Additionally, Heyman writes that "Ohtani's handlers" said that these comments weren't made known to either team during this free agency process.

Shohei Ohtani reportedly 'couldn't see himself' pitching for Yankees or Mets

Even though Ohtani's camp says that these feelings weren't said to the Yankees or Mets, it does feel like they aren't even in the running. As Heyman notes, the two teams are focused on Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

The three-time Nippon Professional Baseball Pacific League MVP is a highly-touted free agent and there are plenty of teams interested in him besides the Yankees and Mets. The San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox, and Dodgers are also pursuing Yamamoto. So it's not necessarily a given that either the Yankees or Mets will end up with him.

FanSided MLB insider Robert Murray, who is at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, says that the perception is that there is no favorite to land Yamamoto as of Tuesday afternoon.

Ohtani joining one of the New York teams would add him to a list of other big-time players making the jump to the Big Apple. But that doesn't feel like it's in the cards.

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