There’s been no word on whether Shohei Ohtani has come closer to a decision in free agency, putting a slow crawl on the rest of Major League Baseball in big signings.
Ohtani has the luxury of time, with the Winter Meetings coming up in December, there’ve been some rumblings that he’ll take the entire tour to meet with each team. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers are among teams with significant interest.
But the Toronto Blue Jays are an interesting addition to this group, with how much their franchise has risen in recent years. The prospect of Ohtani joining the American League East in Toronto is one possibility, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic:
At least one rival executive views the Blue Jays as a sleeper for Shohei Ohtani.
The exec’s rationale is this: Any plans the Jays had to sign Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette to massive extensions might now be on hold. George Springer’s six-year, $150 million contract expires after 2026. The team remains in need of left-handed power.
The Jays could sell Toronto as an international city with a growing Japanese population. But one problem for them, and for that matter the Red Sox and Yankees, is that if Ohtani’s priority is winning, he might prefer a club outside the highly competitive AL East. And though the Jays’ home is the Rogers Centre, a ballpark with a retractable roof, teams in the West play in more reliable conditions than teams that play large chunks of games in the East. Ohtani, as he recovers from his second major elbow surgery, might fear disruptions in his schedule because of inclement weather.
Of course, there are many hurdles to Ohtani joining the Blue Jays, weather, competition, aside, but the top-to-bottom level of the organization in which the two-way star presumably desires out of his next team.
But slotting him alongside Bichette and Guerrero Jr. would be quite the trio, and Springer in center field wouldn’t be a bad fourth option when mapping out a potential lineup card.
Shohei Ohtani could be open to short-term deal
Ohtani, who will be named the 2023 American League MVP this week, hit a stellar .304/.412/.654 with 26 doubles, eight triples, 44 home runs, 95 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 599 plate appearances this past season (135 games).
Ohtani will consider signing a short-term contract with a record average annual value, which could open the door for more teams to pursue him.
The possibility that he could be open to a high AAV deal opens up many scenarios for interested teams, including those who don’t want to commit to the presumed 10-year deal.
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