Given Steve Cohen’s bulging wallet, the New York Mets will continue to be considered the favorites to land Shohei Ohtani in their free-agent draft this offseason.
However, the ace pitcher, who also leads the majors in home runs and OPS, would probably have to find another number.
Ohtani wears the number 17, which was retired by the Mets last year in honor of Keith Hernandez.
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Hernandez could allow Ohtani to use the number.
New York Jets legend Joe Namath said he would give Aaron Rodgers permission to wear his number 12, but Rodgers declined the offer and chose his college number 8 instead.
But Hernández, unlike Namath, doesn’t like the idea very much.
Announcer Gary Cohen asked Hernandez, a Mets color analyst on SNY, if he would allow Ohtani to wear number 17.
«Well, I couldn’t,» Hernandez replied.
«Well, with your permission I could,» Cohen replied.
Hernandez quickly ended the chat.
«Do not ask».
“He is on the beams and he will stay on the beams,” added Hernández.
Ohtani wore No. 16 in the World Baseball Classic, earning the title-clinching save against Los Angeles Angels teammate Mike Trout and Team USA. He also wore No. 11 while playing in Japan before reaching the majors. It has become common practice in Japan to give the number 18 to a star pitcher.
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Mets fans would argue that 16 should be retired for Doc Gooden, and 18 should be on the rafters for Darryl Strawberry, but the numbers have been worn a total of 35 times and remain in circulation since those two stars left the team in the 1990s.
And many Mets players also wore 17 before it was retired.
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Multiple league executives believe Ohtani will become the first $500 million player in MLB history and could even eclipse the $600 million mark. The Mets have the highest payroll in North American sports history at approximately $350 million.
Cohen, by far the richest owner in baseball, isn’t afraid to spend.