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Roundtable: Would you sign Shohei Ohtani if it meant a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. extension is no more?
2 months ago
The Toronto Blue Jays have been one of the hottest names on the hot stove this winter, as the club has been tied to numerous free agents and even San Diego Padres outfielder Juan Soto as a possible trade partner.
The Blue Jays have also been connected to one of the biggest free agents in MLB history, Shohei Ohtani, as the Japanese-born two-way superstar is looking to secure a long-term deal this offseason that could easily push past the $500 million mark and become one of the biggest contracts in not just MLB history but North American sports history.
With this big dollar figure in mind, although the Blue Jays are owned by a multi-billion dollar company in Rogers Media, signing a player to such a big contract likely means the club will need to limit spending in other areas. Considering Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are free agents following the 2025 season without long-term deals in place, there is an increased likelihood that one of these two won’t be in the Jays’ long-term picture unless ownership is ok with blowing past the CBT over the next decade.
Blue Jays – Signing Shohei Ohtani and the risk of internal long-term extensions
This raises a question: would you be in favour of the Blue Jays signing Shohei Ohtani to a long-term deal if it meant that the club could not sign Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to a long-term extension? This question was posed to the Blue Jays Nation staff and this is what they had to say.
Bob Ritchie: I am reluctant to sign any player to a long-term contract (say ten years). However, I would make an exception for Ohtani because he is a unicorn. Also, he is apparently a fitness fanatic and should age well. Furthermore, if his days as a starter are over, he can play a corner outfield position well.
I would sign Ohtani if it meant the Jays could not extend Vlad Jr. It is easier to replace a first baseman/DH than to acquire a unicorn.
Veronica Chung: Signing Ohtani to a long-term deal is a contract that’s worth splurging on even if there is ever the slight possibility of Ohtani not being able to pitch.
Don’t get me wrong Vladdy is also a generational talent and the Jays would be missing out on a big-time talent by letting him go, but if they were keen on keeping him long-term, they would have put more effort into extending him a long time ago. Ohtani from a long-term perspective could be more worth it for the Jays because he brings the business boon with him too.
Having Ohtani long-term could provide more TV revenue through a deal with Japanese broadcasters and it would bring in more fans in general to the ballpark by showcasing the rarest of talents. From that point of view, signing Ohtani to a long-term deal in Toronto is a no-brainer if the Jays end up signing him this offseason. Ohtani’s value isn’t just about baseball – it’s so much more than that and his true value will be incalculable to a team.
Brennan Delaney: So far in Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s career, he’s had one MVP-calibre season in 2021, a good season in 2022, and three slightly above-average seasons in 2019, 2020, and 2023. There’s still room for improvement from the 24-year-old, sure, but at this point, he’s not even producing the way you’d expect from a first baseman.
Shohei Ohtani is the best player in the history of the sport, and I don’t think there’s much debate at this point. The bat alone is worth nine figures, but when you factor in that he’s also an ace when he returns to the mound in 2025, this man deserves the highest contract in any sport. This isn’t even mentioning the fact that the contract that he’ll make pays for itself due to marketing, getting fans in the seats, and many more reasons.
Guerrero Jr. is a good player in a position that’s the easiest to fill. Ohtani is a once-in-a-lifetime player. So yes, absolutely.
Tyson Shushkewich: When one of the top players in Major League Baseball is a free agent, it is exciting to see a team like the Blue Jays seriously in the mix (considering the old “we are interested in everybody but sign not many” narrative).
If the Blue Jays were able to sign Ohtani, there is a likelihood that the club will not be able to extend Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to a long-term deal and that is a reality that I believe many are willing to accept. That’s not to say Guerrero Jr. isn’t worth it, but if the chips are down and you have to choose Bichette or the Jays first baseman because Ohtani is making $50+ million, I go with Bichette every time.
Guerrero Jr. has been a fine bat for the Jays and his 2021 MVP-like season showed what he is capable of but the past two campaigns have not reproduced that wow factor outside of the Home Run Derby, where he continued to showcase his power but outside of the Rogers Centre. The right-handed batter could easily find that elite hitter form this season and make the decision that much more difficult but that’s a risk you will have to take, considering it is easier to find a 1B/DH on the open market compared to a shortstop like Bichette, having Guerrero Jr. walk is a price I would be willing to pay for signing an talent like Shohei Ohtani.
Cam Lewis: I don’t think the L.A. Dodgers are necessarily worse off for having let two internally developed star players, Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger, walk because they ultimately spent to add Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. Seager or Bellinger could wind up having better seasons and perhaps even careers than Betts and Freeman but the Dodgers ultimately opted to invest in two veteran players who would be worth it in the long run. To this point, Shohei Ohtani has done more to suggest he’ll live up to a massive contract than Vladdy has, so the future contract of the latter shouldn’t affect pursuing the former.
Nick Prasad: Shohei Ohtani is by far the biggest individual brand in baseball at the moment. His overall profile as a player and an athlete is within the elite category of all sports. The ability he has shown to be elite on both sides of being a two-way player is above any value noted in media so far.
The Blue Jays would want to spend their cash internally and take care of one of the faces of the franchise: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. In a case where the team does not see value in this or is not successful in completing an extension, a long-term deal with Ohtani would be gold for the organization.
Shohei Ohtani will be recovering from Tommy John surgery and analysts are worried about an inability to bounce back, which is why a short-term or rental deal possibility is floating around the market. The concern of this is warranted, however, not worrisome in this climate. Toronto should not consider a rental possibility, as the time frame for success is unmeasured due to holes needing to be filled, and roster spots needing to be established. In a case where Vladdy may be seeking the open market, the Blue Jays need to build around a leader and top talent. Ohtani is here for the long run on both ends of the game and a long-term gamble would be one hundred percent worth it. So yes, in favour!
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