Ripple Effects: How could Mets be impacted by Manny Machado's Padres extension?

Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani / USA TODAY Sports/SNY Treated Image

Manny Machado signing a massive extension with the San Diego Padres wasn't just a blow to the Mets. It was something that hurt any team that might have been interested in signing one of the best hitters (and fielders) in baseball after this season.

With Machado off the board, an already-underwhelming crop of expected position player free agents heading into 2024 got significantly weaker.

There's one massive name, which we'll get to in a second, and not many other players who jump out. Among them are Matt Chapman, Cody Bellinger, and Michael Conforto (if he doesn't exercise his player option).

The pending starting pitcher free agents are much more intriguing, headlined by Julio UriasAaron Nola, Luis Severino, and the aforementioned massive name -- two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani.

The Machado extension should impact the market for Ohtani in two ways.

First, it means there will be one marquee hitter (who happens to also be a phenomenal pitcher) for teams to fight over, not two.

Second, it would seemingly make it less likely that the Padres will be the high bidder for Ohtani -- especially if they're planning to re-sign Juan Soto, who is set to become a free agent after 2024.

Here's how the Mets could be impacted...

Is Shohei Ohtani to the Mets more likely?


It's fair to believe that the Padres' seemingly endless money mountain has a summit. And as noted above, if San Diego is serious about re-signing Soto after 2024, it's very hard to see them being the highest bidder for Ohtani. If so, that could remove one of the biggest suitors for him.

Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani / Jayne Kamin - Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Padres currently have a shade under $200 million committed to the payroll for 2024, and have just under $180 million on the payroll for 2025 -- and that's for only eight players.

Compare that to the Mets ($141 million committed for 2025, but only $106 million if Justin Verlander's option doesn't vest) and Los Angeles Dodgers (a relatively paltry $91 million on the books for 2025), and you can see why those teams might be better set up to pay Ohtani.

San Diego's farm system is also near the bottom of the pack (unlike the Mets and Dodgers), meaning they'll likely have to rely heavily on the free agent market to fill out their team beyond any stars they sign/extend.

If the Pads (with massive long-term contracts to Machado, Xander Bogaerts, and Fernando Tatis Jr. already on the books) have no issue having around $230 million committed to nine players starting in 2025 and/or no interest in extending Soto (signing Ohtani and Soto would likely mean having $280 million or so dedicated to 10 players), maybe Ohtani ends up there.

If not?

The Mets, Dodgers, Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox, and maybe a few other teams will battle it out over Ohtani.

It could simply be that Ohtani wants to stay on the West Coast. If that's the case, bet on him being a Dodger. But if he's open to coming to New York, it's hard to imagine Steve Cohen being outbid.

Where should the Mets turn on the open market if they don't land Ohtani?

New York could take a run at Chapman, but he's been trending down since 2019, when he finished sixth in MVP voting.

He's still relatively young (2024 will be his age-31 season), but he was a league average player in 2021, hit just .229/.324/.433 in 2022, and his power has dipped significantly over the last two seasons.

Then there's Bellinger (who will be hoping to bounce back with the Cubs this season after two horrific years with the Dodgers) and Conforto (New York contemplated a reunion with him earlier this offseason).

However, with the Mets possibly having multiple position player prospects ready to make a serious impact, it might be wise to turn their attention to the starting pitching market this offseason if they swing and miss on Ohtani.

That's because Max Scherzer could be a free agent after this season (his contract will end after 2024 if he doesn't opt out) and Verlander could be a free agent after 2024 (his deal ends after 2025 if his option vests).

The Mets have some high-upside pitchers in the minors like Calvin Ziegler and Blade Tidwell, but they might have to replenish the top of the rotation soon by going outside the organization.

So signing either Urias, Nola, or Severino could make the most sense if Ohtani doesn't wind up in orange and blue.

Houston Astros catcher Korey Lee (11) looks on as New York Mets third baseman Brett Baty (22) singles to right field during thesixth inning at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
Houston Astros catcher Korey Lee (11) looks on as New York Mets third baseman Brett Baty (22) singles to right field during thesixth inning at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. / Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

What about the Mets' in-house third base options?

I'm of the opinion that the Mets should give Brett Baty the opportunity to win the third base job out of spring training, which could give him the ability to cement his status as the third baseman of the future.

With Machado now out of the picture, there's no reason for New York to not go full speed ahead as it pertains to the 23-year-old Baty.

SNY's Andy Martino reported over the weekend that the Mets want Baty to improve his agility at the hot corner, but it can be argued that his bat is ready -- and Baty has been honing his defense already, spending part of the offseason working on it with Troy Tulowitzki.

Unlike Mark Vientos, whose future might be as a DH and who started just one game at third base after being called up by the Mets last season, most experts believe Baty -- who has also gotten some exposure in left field -- will stick at third and be at least an average defender there.

Then there's Ronny Mauricio, a wild card of sorts who has tools you can dream on but plate discipline that needs serious work -- Mauricio's career OBP in the minors is .300, compared to Baty's .390.

Could Mauricio stop chasing so many pitches and get to the point where his OBP is serviceable? Sure. But Baty is close to a finished product and should be the Mets' main third base option this season and beyond.