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Toronto Blue Jays ‘all-in’ on Shohei Ohtani, rival executive reportedly views them as favourites

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Photo credit:Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
2 months ago
When it comes to Shohei Ohtani, the Toronto Blue Jays have pulled up a seat at the big boy’s table this offseason.
Once considered a long shot, the club is not right in the thick of vying with the LA Dodgers and potentially other clubs, like the San Francisco Giants, for the superstar slugger’s services.
Developments came hot and heavy Tuesday during day two of the Winter Meetings, kicking off early in the morning with a smiley, yet sleepy Ross Atkins speaking with MLB Network Radio bright and early. This, of course, comes a day after he and other Jays brass were believed to have met with Ohtani at their minor league complex in Flordia, showing him around the $100m facility.
The day progressed to seeing the Chicago Cubs bow out of the chase, to Atkins and his skipper John Schneider dancing around the conversation with the grace of a dancer in the Paris Opera Ballet, continuing to the Dodgers potentially shooting themselves in the foot. Their skipper Dave Roberts’ loose lips revealed a weekend meeting between Ohtani and the team. Those words shortly left him scolded by the Dodgers’ PR department and GM Brandon Gomes having to dance around things not long after.
And as the sun set on a frantic day in Nashville, things in the rumour mill remained ever but, as the Toronto Sun’s Rob Longley revealed, citing a “highly placed source” familiar with the Jays’ pursuit of Ohtani, the organization was “putting its best foot forward” in their pursuit of Ohtani.
How much so? Read the words of Longley’s source.
“It feels a little bit like the show The Bachelor, waiting to see if we get picked,” the source said, going on to say that while pitching Ohtani, the pitcher/slugger expressed his affinity for Toronto and that he “in particular enjoyed a city that is generally calmer and quieter” than bigger U.S., including Los Angeles.
Without delving into details and reluctant to share specifics of the Jays’ offer, the source told Longley there was a “palpable sense around the team and its owners that Toronto is very much in the mix,” but suggested it was well north of US$500m.
Meanwhile, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reported a rival executive “with knowledge of talks now sees the Blue Jays as leaders” for Ohtani.
Buckle up, folks. We’re getting close to the finish line.
Rewinding to earlier in the day, it’s hard not to see both Atkins’s quotes as speaking directly to Ohtani and his camp.
“Everything that we’re doing to make the team better to the extent that we can keep private, we will do so,” Atkins said. “Meetings that occur or don’t occur, I’m not going to get into the specifics of.”
Or how about:
“We’ve worked really hard to get to this point, not just today, but over the years, to have a team that is competitive, to have alignment with our leadership, to be agile, and be in most markets to improve our team and it’s a great feeling,” he added.
To finish:
“There are many people that have a decent feel that are closer to the negotiation and we’re fortunate to be one that’s being considered and have a better sense than some, but not something I’m comfortable giving specifics on,” the GM noted.
Those quotes are in stark contrast to Roberts saying the Dodgers meeting with Ohtani “went well,” and that their staff is “confident that wen the time is right, he will pitch again,” and that they’re willing to “bet on the person.”
And when you bake in the context of Ohtani’s camp making it known that “leaking details of the process would be held against” teams that do so, one has to wonder how that impacts not just the Dodgers’ openness, but the Jays’ secrecy.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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