The pursuit of Japanese baseball sensation Shohei Ohtani was as fierce as it was drawn out, and now that it’s done, and the 29-year-old has completed his mouth-watering $700 million deal to join the Los Angeles Dodgers, more and more is being revealed in relation to the efforts made by the Toronto Blue Jays to sign the two-way star.
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Clearly, the fact that Ohtani chose to make the short move from the Los Angeles Angels to the Dodgers would mean a number of potential suitors would end up disappointed with his switch, but seemingly, the Blue Jays have reason to be even more upset than others.
The Rogers Centre franchise was very much in the hunt to sign Ohtani, and general manager Ross Atkins has come out and spoken in detail as to just how they went about trying to lure the three-time MLB All-Star pick, stating,
“We were obviously very disappointed with the outcome, and it was a very difficult phone call to receive, one of the more difficult ones in my career.
“At the same time, [it was an] incredible process and group effort and collaboration that I feel so good about, not only that process but what it meant to be in that position for the organization, for the city, for the country. There’s no doubt in my mind he was exceptionally attracted to this country, this city, this team. We felt incredible about the process, but we moved on.”
Many believe that Ohtani’s discussions with the Blue Jays were merely a way to engineer a better deal with another suitor, something Atkins denies vehemently,
“Absolutely not,” Atkins commented. “I feel strongly otherwise. We feel really good about the process. It was an incredible effort from ownership to business to baseball, people coming together. Not the outcome we wanted, but feel really good about the process and absolutely felt like it was authentic and real.” Atkins added.
Toronto has hit a fine period of consistency in recent seasons, with their 89-73 regular season record earning the Blue Jays a third playoff run in four seasons, albeit they managed just one run in their two defeats to the Minnesota Twins, going down 1-3 and 0-2 in the American League Wild Card Series.
Failing to land Ohtani led to the Blue Jays making alternative contractual moves, with Kevin Kiermaier being brought back on a one-year deal and Isiah Kiner-Falefa signing a two-year deal. Atkins is happy with the way things have panned out in the offseason thus far.
“We have a very good team in place that we are exceptionally excited about,” Atkins said. “We could be open to a trade. We are not actively looking to trade away from our major league team.”
The Toronto Blue Jays won back-to-back World Series in 1992 and 1993, but then failed to secure postseason action in any of their next 21 seasons, though since then, they have regularly gone the distance, albeit failing to get back to the same heady heights as they enjoyed in the early 1990s.